A Traditional Food for the World
Here at Grandma’s Perogies, we don’t claim to be making anything avant-garde. Instead, we are using the tried and tested recipes of our ancestors. In doing so, we’ve come to realize that the basic formula for perogies has been used for centuries in many corners of the world.
Travel to China, and you might see something similar! Legend tell us that Chinese jiaozi (dumplings) travelled across Central Asia to become pelmeni in Russia, perogies in Poland, and ajdovi krapi in Slovenia. Some even say that it was Marco Polo himself who brought this recipe over to the West along the Silk Road.
Using unleavened dough to wrap a cornucopia of different ingredients is such a simple idea. But, it’s this simplicity and variety that has allowed it to be adapted to so many different types of lifestyles and cuisines. For example, the Siberians on the taiga traditionally carry frozen pelmeni in sacks on their hunting trips. All they need is a pot of boiling water, and a nutritious dinner is ready!
During the era of the Silk Road, ideas and goods flowed across the roads of the Far East and Central Asia into Europe. It was a great time for the exchange between cultures. So, it’s no surprise that Chinese jiaozi made is as far as the remote villages of Siberia. Records from this time period are limited, but Siberia claims to be the birth land for the Russian pelmeni dumpling. Traditionally, the pelmeni are stuffed with meat, including lamb, venison, moose, or even horse. However, as it spread West, the ingredients were adapted to the local palates. Russian pelmeni today are generally filled with onions, pork, mushrooms, potatoes, cheese or beef.
The Journey to Fame
e did this international story of perogies begin? If the legend of Chinese origin is true, then we need to travel back 2000 years to the Eastern Han dynasty of China. The story goes that Zhang Zhongjing, a traditional healer of the time, was going home one winter day when he came upon some impoverished townspeople. They had frostbite, and were too poor to afford proper winter clothing. Zhongjing helped them by creating a thick stew using lamb, black pepper and herbs. He stuffed this inside some dough, and boiled the dumplings. He gave them this nutritious and wholesome food, and it helped them survive through the harsh winter.
Over the proceeding centuries, dumplings have been adapted by communities all across the country. Jiaozi are filled with meat and vegetables, such as pork, fish, shrimp, napa cabbage, leeks, carrots, and mushrooms. Today in China, during New Year’s celebrations jiaozi are one of the most commonly eaten dishes. They can then be boiled, steamed, or fried. When served, they are often accompanied with sesame oil dip and black vinegar. This combination helps bring an additional savouriness to the dumplings. China, like most countries worldwide, has a rich tradition of making, innovating, and enjoying their dumplings.
A Worldwide Favourite
The auspicious beginning for dumplings, was just the start of its journey worldwide. Dumplings have spread across the European continent, and to the New World. Each generation and culture has modernized dumplings, while keeping them the same at heart.
Today, perogies and pelmeni in North America are just as delicious, convenient, and nutritious as ever. In fact, at Grandma’s Perogies, we’ve gone the Siberian way! Our line of frozen pelmeni is so simple to make. All you need is a pot of boiling water, 5 minutes, and a hungry stomach.