Friday, December 21, 2007

My Christmas tradition

Although I put up my Christmas card, I did want to write about my holiday tradition. As I mentioned somewhere, my background is Polish. 100% as a matter of fact.

Our Christmas tradition focuses on Christmas eve. This is the night the special meal is made and people wish each other well for the holiday. In my family, the tradition was always to have fish and pierogi on Christmas eve night. And the pierogi is homemade.

Let me tell you there is nothing like home made pierogi. It's not just the taste, it's the process. It's a time when almost everyone in the family comes together to help out to make the meal. My mom traditionally makes the filling (both cabbage and potato, and if she's feeling good to herself either prune or cherry too). The cabbage filling has to be made 'just so' since my sister doesn't like the big 'boolies' inside (thick part of the cabbage). And the pierogi has to be made the day of, and in batches. A glob of dough is made, and rolled out to the proper thickness (pretty damn thin), and then rounds cut out of it. Extra dough is thrown into a bowl to be rolled out again and made into 'straighties' (like spaghetti, but with pierogi dough). And people sit at the table and take a circle of dough, throw a spoonful of stuffing in it, fold it over, and pinch the edges. Chatting all the way. And of course my oldest brother HAS to make a couple with weird shapes and/or a circleof dough filled with dough, just to be different.

All get stored under a towel so they don't dry out, and about half hour before the time to eat, the boiling starts. Potato ones just get boiled, but cabbage one, at least some of them, get fried also in a pan. AT the same time the fish is being cooked.

Once everything is on the table, before anyone can sit down to eat, the oplatek (sp?) comes out. It's kind of like the texture of communion wafers, but pressed into 4x6 rectangles with holiday scenes on them, and blessed by a priest. Every person starts with a piece. And you go up to a person, wish them a merry christmas, and each person takes a piece of the other's wafer and eats it. It's actually a really nice tradition. Of course, in my family, the goal is always to get other people to take as much as possible so you have almost nothing at the end left to eat yourself, since it's so nasty. :-)

Then, you sit and eat all the cold food. But it's still great.


Churlita said...

MMmmmm. It sounds really good. I used to live in a suburb on the Southside of Chicago with a large Polish population. I will always love the food.

heather said...

wanna trade next year? you can go to my father-in-laws, ingest a years worth of salt in one night, fight the bloating that comes with too much salt and the water retention for a week later and ~still~ manage to go home hungery cause nothing there was edible.

i ~really, truely~ wish j would not insist on going to his dad's every flippin year. (we bring my mom with us)

WNG said...

sounds seriously yummy...and fun. maybe I could come over for Xmas eve next year and we could somehow get to chucktown for my Xmas day feast? I may have to build a time machine...I'll get right on it...

did I mention I'm home and there's champagne? iam. there is.

NoRegrets said...

Churlita, the first time I went to Chicage I was amazed to see I think an entire page of my last name. Only there I think.

Um, Heather, you make it sound so tempting, but, um, no.

WNG - all we need is a private helicopter or jet! If one of us wins the lottery... I do have a friend who owns an airplane, but we'd have to feed him too, and perhaps introduce him to a single, good looking, talkative, 40ish woman.