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Election Night Pierogi

Election Night Pierogi

 Cinemagraph by  Lauren Allen  and  Mackenzie Smith

Cinemagraph by Lauren Allen and Mackenzie Smith

The anxiety of constant news, the insistent quelling of my kids’ fears from things they’ve heard on the schoolbus, and the general stress of life put pierogi in the non-necessity category.

It’s around 11 p.m. on November 8, and the only sounds punctuating the din of gobsmacked news anchors reporting what was hardly predicted are soft footsteps padding down a creaky staircase so that little voices can ask one question:

Momma, who won?

The 2016 presidential election night was the first in a decade that I hadn’t made pierogi. Before becoming a journalist, I was a lobbyist and campaign finance manager, and election night pierogi became an unlikely tradition at the hindmost point of a 2006 gubernatorial campaign. A brief escape from the office led me to my apartment, scrounging around for what I could find for food. All I had was an aluminum and cardboard takeout container of mashed potatoes, a stick of butter, and another to-go cup of sour cream, leftover from a work dinner a few nights prior. I had never made -- let alone eaten -- pierogi before, but I had two hours and a chance to unwind, and by whatever kismet or happenstance, I decided to take a stab and rolling, filling, and forming my first peer-rog.

Election night pierogi has been a tradition since, save for this past year. The anxiety of constant news, the insistent quelling of my kids’ fears from things they’ve heard on the schoolbus, and the general stress of life put pierogi in the non-necessity category. A foolish move: what better way to offer solace than with cheesy, chive-y mashed potatoes hugged by a soft, chewy dough and smothered in butter and shallots with a dip in sour cream and applesauce? (Rhetorical question, of course. There is no better way.)

Unable to resist any longer, I set off into the kitchen around midnight to pull together pierogi. The ingredients are essentials in my kitchen, and I even had chives growing in my Upstate New York garden despite the onset of chilly weather. The repetition was zen-like, allowing my mind to wander away from uncertainty while gently rocking from foot-to-foot as I moved through the motions, coddling each tender Polish dumpling like a swaddled baby drifting off to sleep. The dulcet sizzle of boiled pierogi hitting hot butter in a hand-me-down cast iron skillet drowned out the clangor from the television. I tucked my children back into bed, assuring them it was best to sleep tight and hear the results in the morning, and then I tucked into my own steaming plate of comfort food.

If food is the best conduit of love, then potatoes are a handwritten love letter. It is hard to let reality pilfer joy and optimism with a belly full of pierogi.

Click here for Deanna's Potato and Cheddar Pierogi recipe. 


Deanna Fox is a freelance food and agriculture journalist based in Upstate New York. @DeannaNFox

 

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