Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A story (and a TV show) about perogies in Winnipeg

Once upon a time, a long time ago in a city called Winnipeg, I recall my dad telling me a story about making perogies (we called them “pyrohy” in the old days) and growing up on the farm in Saskatchewan.

He recalled his mom making them (often) ... but whenever an unexpected visitor would come to the farm, everyone would all scramble to stuff the evidence into a closet, out of sight.

Why, I asked?

Because, he replied, no one wanted to be caught dead making pryohy … it was peasant food!

This struck me as very odd. Everyone made them, and everyone knew everyone else made them, and everyone loved them. The fact that they were inexpensive to make had to be a bonus!

Well, no, he said. They were ashamed to be so poor that all they could afford to eat was pyrohy. And it would be a disgrace, if not an insult, to serve them to guests.

I know Ukrainians can be funny sometimes (and I don’t mean necessarily ha-ha funny) … so I took may dad’s word for it. I knew very well how my dad always felt it was necessary to produce lavish “lunches” for guests (unexpected or not) as a way to demonstrate the family's prosperity… as well as to be hospitable and throw a great party. (My dad is *very* social!)

Still, something about his perogies-in-the-closet story stuck with me, but I thought it was just my dad’s family being weird. After all, I knew my family.

Or so I thought.

One day, some time later, I mentioned Dad’s story to my mom, and how odd I thought it was. Then she told me, very matter of factly, that her family did exactly the same thing!

Who knew?? All those years growing up with both of these people, and no one said.

Well, we’ve come a long way. But I wonder what all my grandparents and long-departed relatives (and who knows who else's grandparents and relatives) would think if they were to see not only unexpected visitors, but TV cameras coming to film them making pyrohy? (Not to mention making a living selling “peasant food”…)

Something tells me that, after getting over the shock, they would be rather pleased ... and would quite enjoy seeing something like this on TV.

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