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  • Here's a recipe that seems close. My vecmama would tell you to add ham, skip the sour cream and the sugar, keep the filling as cold as possible, try not to make the pīrāgi into a crescent shape, poke them with a fork after you've brushed the top with egg, never, never eat too many of them while they are still warm, you'll get a stomach ache, we still have to save some for the neighbors, surely you understand how long it takes to make these, go run around the house a couple of times, no really, go, now. Then my great aunt would tell you "three-time thank you."

    Paldies, paldies, paldies, yarb.

    October 7, 2010

  • Beautiful, especially the poem. The perfect thing to read on an autumnal morning like this. Can you post a recipe?

    October 7, 2010

  • The Latvian version of pierogies. They are little bread rolls stuffed with ham, bacon, and onion. They are baked, not boiled.

    My vecmama taught me how to make them. The filling is chopped coarsely for loved ones or practically minced for the folks at church. When the filling runs out, which it always does, the remaining dough can be used to make little rolls with caraway seeds sprinkled on top. Pīrāgi can be frozen and then reheated (with a bit of butter), and one or two can then be left in a little baggie for the mailman. But only one or two.

    At Christmas my mom and vecmama and I would go to the church the Latvians shared with a German congregation in the Russian neighborhood. If I wanted Santa to give me my presents, I had to stand up before everyone and recite a traditional poem which went something like this:

    Ziemassvētki sabraukuši

    Rakstītām kamanām.

    Pīrāgam, nabagam,

    Abi gali sadeguši.

    Nāc, māsiņa, ciemoties

    Ziemassvētku vakarā;

    Būs pupiņas, būs zirnīši,

    Būs cūciņas šņukurītis.

    My mother translated this for me as follows:

    "Christmas has arrived

    in the sleigh with the... decorative writing... on it.

    And the poor little pierogi

    got burned at both ends.

    Come, dear sister, to visit us

    Christmas Eve;

    There will be beans, there will be peas,

    There will be pig's... snout...."

    Most events at church featured pīrāgi, and there was always a bit of good-natured competition about which pīrāgi were the best. My vecmama's sister knew she had a reputation for baking the best pīrāgi in all of Detroit. When she died, one of the first things we had to do after we got off the plane was find the bags of frozen pīrāgi she'd made ahead of time for us to serve at her own funeral.

    I've heard there are also pīrāgi which are stuffed with cheese or even chicken, but I've never had any of those.

    October 7, 2010