Saturday, 13 December 2014

The Singing Pierogi!

Are you proud of the National Dish of your country?

The National Dish of Singapore is Chicken Rice. A close second is Chilli Crab. Have you tried them?

Both are lip-smacking Good, just like all the National Dishes of the world. I’ve never tried cooking them simply because both are easily available with reasonable prices all over the island.

In case you didn’t know, Singapore is an island; not a state, not a desert, not atop a mountain & certainly not a chance you will go hungry with all the many, many food places per square foot here.

Curious me decided to start a ‘National Dish Hunt’, so every now & then you’ll see posts like these in future.

We have apple pie from the US, pierogi from Poland, poutines of Canada, Korean bulgogi, sauerbraten in Germany, the list goes deliciously on. I’ve tried all the National Dishes mentioned, except for one – pierogi.

I notice that most national dishes are inexpensive, not gourmet and quite the humble food close to the hearts of the people. It sounds like the dish you grew up with, ate as a family, chatting away at the dinner table. This is the food mom cooked often - whether it turns out tasty or not, really doesn’t matter because it’s all about the sitting down together. Not to forget mom’s rule of ‘If you don’t eat it, ya Don’t Eat!’ Period.

So back to pierogi. I read about this dish on Wikipedia and unlike Chicken Rice, there are many variations on the filling alone - there’s even sweet pierogi filled with fruits & sour cream. My mouth watered at the savoury one with bacon. Yum!

There are savoury, salty and sweet versions of pierogi baked, fried or dunked in clear borscht with fillings galore enjoyed in Russia, Hungary, America, Canada, Germany, Ukraine & Romania.

Enough of just the written word, I decided to hunt for this dumpling and found a little retro place right here in Singapore serving pierogi for lunch and dinner as a starter at 6 bucks each! The best thing is that it comes with (you guessed it!) Bacon!

Off I trooped to the cafe with my dollar notes and after ordering, I sat at a cosy corner, gazing at the charming nostalgic decor. The ambience really warms my heart; reminds me so much of my kampong days when I was a cute little talkative kid (see ‘Something Sweet, Something Sour... ’) with my china doll haircut. The cutlery sat in a container next to a glass cup filled with sugar cubes.

While waiting, I stole a peek behind the counter and saw my little dumpling being checked for doneness (the metal noodle sieve was lightly shaken a few times in the steamy boiling water).

I got the fork & knife ready. My curiousity perked. My tummy growled. It seemed like forever before I was presented with THIS!

First of all, I felt it’s a teeny bit pricey at S$6 for just one pierog. Anyway, I took a few shots with the phone camera, cut it in half and snapped some more.

I proceeded to Go for it! with my fork, and the result... ?

Święty Jacek z pierogami*! How come I didn’t discover this earlier?

It’s one of the most wholesome comfort foods ever! The dough smoothly & playfully slid around in my mouth, dancing with the sour cream. The potato filling oozed with warmth & made me smile. The fragrant pickled onions perked up every bite. Amazing flavors rushed out!

What about the bacon topping? Well, it was the harmonious part of the whole combination. It brought everything together like an orchestra hitting the much-awaited chorus of an opera. It serenaded to me a welcome message that reads ‘With Love from Poland’. I sang along.

I now understand how happy Polish people are of their National Dish and Rightly so! I’ll certainly be chomping on these dumplings again & again.

Will I try making these myself? Maybe someday. For now, the one pierog I had is reminding me of those happy childhood gatherings & sunny days.

Pierogi is Family.

*'Święty Jacek z pierogami!' translates to 'St. Hyacinth and his pierogi!'.
This is an old Polish expression of surprise, roughly equivalent to ‘Holy Smokes!’
(source: Wikipedia)

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