What is a Pierogi and why is Pittsburgh known for them?

Pierogis look a little funny, and you have no idea what’s inside of them. They kind of look like little calzones made of noodles, and unless you’ve ordered or bought them yourself, the innards are a mystery. Many a child has passed up a pierogi because of its mysterious nature!

Turns out, pierogis are delicious- and right they should be as they have a lengthy history dating back to the 13th century. They can be filled with traditional savory meat or sweet jam fillings, be served as a main or side dish, or succumb to the workings of an eclectic chef who likes to try new combinations. The exact origin of these little pies is unknown and unverifiable, but all clues point to Central and Eastern Europe, hence why they are mascots in the Great Pierogi Race at Pittsburgh Pirates games.

Wait.

What?

How did the national dish of Poland become so ingrained in the Pittsburgh culture? Simple- this little bit of Land of the Free was occupied by nearly 200,000 Poles in 1920 (the census was 588,343)- that’s a huge proportion. Although their quest for work and a better life brought them to the United States, they did not leave their Polish cuisine behind but rather transformed this “peasant food” into a Yinzer staple, one with its own national day (October 8) and dedicated festival (Septembers in Pittsburgh).

After you’ve had fries on your sandwich, go have some pierogis for dessert… Then you’ve eaten in Pittsburgh.

 

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