For the entire month of July, there was only one item on my special to-do list -- attending the annual Pierogi Festival in Whiting, Indiana. For me, there might be no more perfect food than the humble pierogi. They combine so many things that I love: dumplings, pasta, and mashed potatoes. What is there not to love about them? A whole festival dedicated to them, including a mascot clad in a pierogi suit? Count me in! I've been aware of the Pierogi Festival for a few years now, having it seen it on the Food Network somewhere along the line, but had never managed to make it there. This year, I vowed, would be different. I wrote it in my day-planner months ago. Only one thing stood in my way -- the only way to Whiting is by car.
I figured the solution would be simple; I'd go up to Highland Park, pick up my car and some friends, and head southeast. However, as the date approached, Mom became deeply uncomfortable with me driving there, given my lack of driving experience in recent years. She put her foot down, and there was going to be no convincing her. So I took the issue to my limited handful of friends with cars who I thought might be interested in a day dedicated to pierogis. No luck there either.
Dejected, I found myself discussing my disappointment with my friend Darrell, who suggested that I make the best of a bad situation by making my own pierogis. Ever the chef, he meant making them from scratch, which did hold a certain appeal. I'd certainly never attempted them before, and I do love an adventure in the kitchen. However, cookie-baking aside, I've been struggling with a serious lack of cooking motivation lately, and I just couldn't muster the energy. I decided instead to pick up a package of pierogis at the grocery store instead.
However, the universe had other plans there as well. I initially stopped at Trader Joe's in search of frozen pierogis, but was unable to locate any in the seemingly nonsensically organized frozen section. They weren't near the appetizers, the pasta, or the ethnic food. Determined to have some sort of dumpling product at that point, I grabbed a package of pork gyoza instead, and headed home in a funk. On the bus, I ruminated over my frustration, and decided that I would stop at one more store in a last-ditch effort to satisfy my pierogi craving. Jewel at least had some pierogis, but they were on sale, and at such a well-trafficked store as the one near my apartment, sales move merchandise quickly. All they had left were chicken and sweet cheese pierogis, and I was interested in neither. Then, to top off the entire disheartening pierogi saga, as I left the grocery store, the previously blue sky had turned ominously grey, and the skies opened up upon me. With all the wind and horizontal rain, my umbrella was completely useless and I arrived home with my package of consolation gyoza, completely soaked to the bone.
Ultimately, the gyoza were tasty (almost shockingly so for frozen food), but they weren't pierogis. Potato-y goodness just wasn't in the cards for me this weekend. For now, I'll just drown my sorrows in my Japanese dumplings and cry into my soy sauce. I guess there's always next year...