The Ukrainian Club of Kingston this weekend presents Folklore 2011: the Lviv Pavillion with Ukrainian food, performances and exhibitions.
When: Friday June 10th – 7-11 p.m.
Saturday June 11th – noon-11 p.m.
Sunday June 12th – noon-6 p.m.
Where: Regiopolis- Notre Dame High School – 130 Russell St, Kingston, Ontario.
Admission: $5 for a passport good for all three days.
And it was featured in the Whig-Standard newspaper earlier this week:
It will be the club’s 42nd Folklore and the 42nd time Maria Luciuk and her friends have spend the last month getting ready. They’ve been whipping up a ton of patychky (better known as meat sticks), varenyky or perogies, and holubtsi ( cabbage rolls). Mrs. Luciuk’s son Lubomyr, president of the Ukrainian Club, estimates that they will have made 10,000 perogies, 2,000-3,000 meat sticks and 5,000 cabbage rolls and “every year we sell out of them all,” he says. “You get a sample of each in our Cossack plate, which only costs five or six dollars. You can buy Ukrainian beer and watch entertainment. For $30, that’s a pretty good deal for a family of four.”
Oh, and did I mention that Mrs. Luciuk is 83. The other day I made a brief stop at her house to pick up some perogies to sample. It was 11 a.m. and she and her friends had been working since 6 a.m. making the meat sticks. These are cubes of pork and veal that marinate overnight in a garlicky solution. Then they are skewered on wooden sticks, fried and baked in an oven.
By 11, the ladies were looking pretty tired. As Whig photographer Ian MacAlpine tried to coax a smile out of them, one grumbled, “You should have come at 6 if you wanted us to smile.”
Making the meat sticks is the hardest of the three dishes to make, according to Mrs. Luciuk. “Because it’s meat, you have to do it all in one day,” she says. “With the varenyky, you can make them in small batches and do it on different days. The same thing with the holubsti.”
The team makes everything ahead and freezes it, with the meat sticks the last of the three to be made. This year, three women and two men worked with Mrs. Luciuk. They were Ivanna Zurba, Brenda Farenech and her husband Yari, Anna Polywkan and Blago Kuzevsky.
There are also desserts to be had at the pavilion, although they are not particularly Ukrainian, as well as Ukrainian beer, imported for the occasion. Sausages and sauerkraut are also served.
Forty-two years is a long time to be making 10,000 perogies, 3,000 meat sticks and 5,000 cabbage rolls in a concentrated period of time. So why does Mrs. Luciuk keep doing it? “I used to be on the executive of Folklore when we had 22 pavilions and I really enjoyed it,” she says. “Each nationality has something different to offer and it was very interesting to be among people and get to know them. Folklore worked for a long time.”
But why not give up when the other groups did, after 1999? “I’m stubborn,” she says. “And my kids are stubborn, too. It gives me pleasure to see people come out and learn about Ukrainian culture.” Her daughter, Nadia Luciuk, teaches the dance group that performs every year.
Says Lubomyr, “This is traditional peasant cuisine. There’s a traditional Ukrainian community in the kitchen and the Ukrainian mother is the mainstay of the community.”
To whet my whistle for the story, I was sent home with a big bag of perogies that were already cooked. All I had to do was let them thaw, then reheat them in the oven after they’d been covered with some caramelized onions and butter.
I got my wife to buy some kielbasa and we dined like Cossacks ourselves on Saturday night as the big platter of perogies disappeared. I don’t know what it is about them that I find so irresistible. They’re very simple and yet if I had only one meal left to eat, I’m sure they would be on my menu.
It’s probably my Ukrainian roots for I think it’s true that for each of us, there are sentimental attachments to different foods that just seem to make them taste better. I always think of my Auntie Mary when I eat them, and my Dad and pretty well all my Ukrainian relatives. And let’s face it, anything that has nicely fried onions on it has to be a gift from heaven.
Lubomyr recommends that you get down to the pavilion on Friday and Saturday because by Sunday some of the food items have started to run out. He says every year the pavilion is a rousing success.