Varenyky (Ukrainian Pierogies)

Varenyky is the Ukrainian name for them, but they’re also called pierogis or dumplings. I picked this recipe because growing up in Queens, my best friend’s family was Ukrainian. When I think of these, I think of my time going to P.S. 117 in Jamaica, Queens, and I think of that family. It reminds me of when I was a kid. And currently with the war going on, it brought back a lot of different feelings.

It just really reminds me of when I was growing up. It reminds me of family. It reminds me of different cultures. When I think about Queens, I think about how on your block there could be 20 different kinds of people and you just didn’t think twice about it.

Recently, I made the recipe with my son, so now a third generation is making it. We had a lot of fun.You boil the potatoes or you make the stuffing and then you roll it out, so you’re using a lot of different senses. This is a dish that brings people together. Not only is the dish diverse and utilitarian, it is binding people together.Recently, I’ve made it with my son. So I feel like it’s a third generation that is making it. And, you know, we had a lot of fun. We had a lot of fun. You boil the potatoes or you make whatever you stuffing is and then you roll it out. So you’re using a lot of different senses. And I just felt that it made you come together. So not only is the dish diverse, and, like, utilitarian, so is binding people together.

When COVID started, my family and I could not celebrate one of the holidays together as we normally do. At the time, my son was living in San Francisco and my daughter was living somewhere else. One day I said to them, “Let’s all make something that reminds you of growing up but don’t tell each other what you’re making.” Then we made plans to meet on Zoom to share what we all made.

And everyone made pierogies and broccoli rabe. There were other things that were on each of our plates as well, but everybody had those two things. It just tells you how much the memory meant to all of us. Certain things just really stick with people, and this was one of them.

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