When you think of foods tied to Buffalo's identity, chicken wings and beef on weck are trumpeted relentlessly. But after that illustrious duo comes non-native foods like pierogi, the small pockets immersed in the diets of Buffalonians thanks to generations of proud Polish immigrants and their families.
Today, Oct. 8, is National Pierogi Day, a perfect time to remember why we like them so much.
For many Western New York families with Polish ancestry, any mention of pierogi invites waves of nostalgia as much as it does pride in their heritage -- and for those who take pierogi seriously, like R & L Lounge in the Historic Polonia District, large-scale, commercially-sold frozen pierogi simply can't compete with their homemade gems.
The best pierogi we've tried are simple, but not necessarily easy to make -- they boast a nice crunch on the outside and harbor fillings of different cheeses, potato, onions or sauerkraut, among others, inside.
Look back at pierogi content from Buffalo.com and BuffaloNews.com:
*Ru's Pierogi launches food truck, lays out plans for a restaurant: The newest pierogi-centric Buffalo business is already into part three of its three-pronged plan. Ru's Pierogi's production facility is already operating, the brand's food truck has already served at Bills home games and plans for the restaurant at 295 Niagara St. are in full swing.
Co-owners Andy Ruszczyk and Zachary Schneider will have the truck at Lakeward Spirits' grand-opening party on Oct. 8, and you can see some of their menu items here. Look back at photos from one of Ru's Pierogi's pre-opening events, Pints and Pierogi, in February.
*Read Andrew Galarneau's interview with Lottie Pikuzinski of R & L Lounge. Below is one of our favorite exchanges:
"This [pierogi] is a lot of work," Pikuzinski said. "If people ask me to buy it and take it out, I won't sell it to them."
Galarneau: Why not? Aren't you in the business of selling food?
"Because I want them to come and visit me, that's all. I won't sell it to them. They can make their own, but they won't be like mine.
Galarneau: What's the secret to good pierogi?
"I don't know. TLC, you know? Tender loving care."
Galarneau: You make potato and cheese, but not sauerkraut?
"Mostly I don't push the sauerkraut, it's too much work. We're retired."
*Check out Charity Vogel's tale of her Polish-American grandmother and her prized pierogi recipe, originally published in December 2008.
"Also, as a practical woman, [my grandmother] would advise you -- as she did me, my first time -- not to worry if you don't own a pierogi cutter, or even a biscuit ring. "Just use a drinking glass," she told me. "Flip it over and cut them with the rim -- nobody will know the difference."
*Read Andrew Galarneau's review of Polish Villa II, in which he says the following about their pierogi:
"The large pierogi ($6 for two) are tender-skinned but browned, topped with sweet caramelized onion and served with sour cream. Potato and kraut versions were good, but the sweetened farmer’s cheese topped them.
The mushroom pierogi, stuffed with Polish mushrooms and goat cheese ($7 for two) boasted a robust mushroom flavor that had me thinking of the forest."
Did you know Polish Villa II serves its fare from a food truck, too? Well, now you do.
Email Ben Tsujimoto, who isn't good at making pierogi, at email@example.com