Sophia Shimanska overcomes distance with Ukrainian perogies

April 5, 2023


Sophia Shimanska

PLATING PEROGIES. The Ukranian dish is often seen on the holiday table of Sophia Shimanska.

Christmas Eve, Easter and other holiday dinner tables are often filled with different foods, both traditional and more specific to a family’s heritage or tastes. For sophomore Sophia Shimanska, holiday dinner tables are filled with traditional Ukrainian dishes and treats — from Easter bread to sweet or savory perogies — that have been carried through her family for generations.

Cooking traditional Ukrainian cuisine is something Sophia looks forward to because it allows her to connect to Ukrainian culture thousands of miles away. 

One of the most notable dishes Sophia makes are perogies, a type of dumpling with a savory or sweet filling.

“There’s so many steps, like making the dough, then also making whatever the filling is — it could be potato, it could be cherry,” Sophia said. “We also did blueberry and strawberry once, and the strawberry ones were really good.”

The process of making perogies is somewhat simple: make the flour dough, prepare the filling and put the dish together.

According to Sophia, all you need to do is add flour, eggs, water, salt and seasoning. Then make the potato filling with potatoes, farmer’s cheese and cooked onions.

Using the same recipes that my ancestors have used, who lived in the Ukraine for their entire lives, I feel like that kind of helps me connect to my culture.

— Sophia Shimanska

These dishes ignite special memories for Sophia, from traveling back to Ukraine to visit her grandmother to fun holiday traditions that have been in her family for generations. 

“It makes me remember and connect to the people that are currently in Ukraine,” Sophia said. “I remember when I went to Ukraine — I think in like 2019, maybe 2018 — but when I came home my grandma made me pierogies right when we came into the house and they were, like, nice and fresh from the night before.”

For Sophia, food isn’t just a way to connect to her immediate family but a way to connect her to her Ukrainian heritage and a country that she hasn’t been able to visit since 2019 due to COVID-19 and the war with Russia. These traditional dishes have been around for centuries, so being able to cook the same dishes helps Sophia connect to her culture.

“Using the same recipes that my ancestors have used, who lived in the Ukraine for their entire lives, I feel like that kind of helps me connect to my culture. Because you don’t really see a lot of Ukrainian restaurants,” Sophia said.

Cooking and baking traditional dishes lets Sophia connect to her culture and family in Ukraine. From helping her mom prep in the kitchen to enjoying the freshly made perogies that her grandmother made in Ukraine, cooking is something in Sophia’s life that connects her to family thousands of miles away.

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