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Pierogi making is time-honored tradition

  • Louise Bartos makes pierogis at the Holy Family Parish in South Deerfield on Wednesday. October 4, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Simonne Coderre, Cynthia Abraham (Rotkiewicz), Cyndy Magelinski and Stacia Rotkiewicz make pierogis at the Holy Family Parish in South Deerfield on Wednesday. October 4, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Pierogis being stamped out at the Holy Family Parish in South Deerfield on Wednesday. October 4, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Marie Reino makes pierogis at the Holy Family Parish in South Deerfield on Wednesday. October 4, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Virginia Wolejko boils pierogis at the Holy Family Parish in South Deerfield on Wednesday. October 4, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Simonne Coderre, Cynthia Rotkiewicz, Cyndy Magelinski and Stacia Rotkiewicz make pierogis at the Holy Family Parish in South Deerfield on Wednesday. October 4, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • Marie Reino and Louise Bartos make pierogis at the Holy Family Parish in South Deerfield on Wednesday. October 4, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz



Recorder Staff
Friday, October 06, 2017

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Cynthia Magelinski learned how to make pierogi from her mother, a Polish immigrant, two years before she died in the late 1960s.

“She didn’t measure,” explained Magelinski late on a recent morning, covered in flour, making pierogi at Holy Family Roman Catholic Church on Sugarloaf Street.

Magelinski, a South Deerfield resident and member of St. Anne’s Sodality, crimped the edges of the freshly cut dumplings that originated in Eastern Europe, working beside a dozen other Sodality women, their fingers deep in dough.

The first time Magelinski made pierogi by herself, “it was a sloppy messy.” Now, almost 50 years later, she has perfected the cultural culinary art.

“And it feels so good when you go like that, just like a baby’s bum,” Magelinski said, slapping a freshly crimped pierogi.

Pierogi will be sold on the church’s lawn Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. as a fundraiser. St. Anne’s Sodality, which currently has 35 members, was founded in 1958. The group began the fundraiser two years later and has done so every year since.

Southern Franklin County, like much of the Pioneer Valley, has a tight-knit Polish community. Many came to America seeking jobs or fleeing violence during the Industrial Revolution and later around the time of World War II. They brought with them a taste for the perennial Polish favorite, a taste that has been passed down through the generations.

On trays, boiling in pots, set out to cool on counters, 800 pierogi were packaged for sale Wednesday, each one handmade from scratch: 400 cheese and potato filled, 400 with sauerkraut.

“There’s probably a thousand years of pierogi making in this one room,” said Connecticut resident Cynthia Abraham (Rotkiewicz). Abraham also learned from her mother, 86-year-old first generation Polish-American Stacia Rotkiewicz, there in a white “Pierogi Palooza” apron.

Food as a cultural connection

Like the sticky dough they’re cut from, pierogi connect local Polish-American immigrant families to their cultural roots; a taste of Poland in South Deerfield.

“I’ve been eating them since I was little,” said Stacia Rotkiewicz. “My mother always made them, and I grew to like them. You bake a lot of them, put them in the freezer, and some days when you don’t feel like cooking, take the pierogi out. … That way, instead of going to McDonalds or something like that, I’ve always got good food.”

Pierogi dough is made from eggs, butter, flour and sour cream. Second to experience, quality dough contributes to great pierogi, said Sunderland resident Virginia Wolejko. It needs to be pliable yet strong enough to hold together.

Stuffing, folded between layers of dough, can be made from a variety of ingredients. Traditionally, pierogi are filled with sauerkraut or cheese and potatoes. After they were folded, Wolejko boiled them for about 10 minutes each. She noted most people like to fry them after purchase.

Louise Bartos, the 91-year-old chairwoman of St. Anne’s Sodality, said it’s best to use “farmer cheese” (pressed cottage cheese) because of its sticking qualities. Bartos, also first generation Polish-American, has been making pierogi as long as she can remember.

“I don’t like a thick dough. Some people make it thick, but I like to taste the filling,” she noted, rolling more dough for the next batch on a flour-covered counter. “This is the way my mother used to make them. We put our (cheese) balls in a row, and then we flap the dough over the balls,” slicing away individual pierogi with a ravioli cutter.

“At Christmas time, I have a large family that comes to my house. I have about 40 people who come. They like the pierogi, everyone likes the pierogi,” Bartos said. “I have nieces who live in Nashua, N.H., and Boston. They all say ‘Louise makes the best pierogi.’”

Saturday’s fundraiser

Putting on the annual fundraiser takes dedication. Making pierogi is a week-long affair. Sodality members split up the workload, some making homemade filling, others pulling together dough ingredients. And they’ll be back soon to make golumpki, a stuffed cabbage Polish dish.

Purchase St. Anne’s Sodality’s homemade pierogi on the lawn of Holy Family Roman Catholic Church, 29 Sugarloaf St., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Proceeds will benefit the group.

You can reach Andy Castillo

at: acastillo@recorder.com

or 413-772-0261, ext. 263

On Twitter: @AndyCCastillo