Church Kitchen Serves Ukrainian Dumplings In The Basement Of A Chiropractor's Office
- Streecha is a Ukrainian kitchen hidden in the basement of
- The kitchen started more than 40 years ago as a way to fundraise for the St. George Ukrainian Catholic
Churchup the block.
- There are just four dishes on the menu:
varenyky, borscht, holubtsi, and kovbasa.
- Plates are made and served entirely by volunteers and cost no more than $8.
Following is a full transcript of this
Taryn: Streecha's not your typical restaurant. It opened 40 years ago to raise money for St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church, which is why Dmytro, or Dyma, calls it a church kitchen. It's run entirely by volunteers, who come to make pierogi by hand. Or, in Ukrainian...Dmytro: We say varenyky, yeah, but in some part of
Taryn: Dyma starts by making the outer layer.Dmytro: I'm making dough. Then I'm using this roller to make circles. Then I put filling on it. Potato, onion, cheese, butter, salt, black pepper. I guess that's it. It's simple, but people say it's delicious. Helen Skomsky: It tastes beautiful. Tastes - I tell you true that it's the best varenyky I ever had. It's the best. My grandchildren, they never liked mine. When I made it at home, he say, no, they want it from Dyma.
Taryn: That's Helen. Like the rest of the women around this table, she comes by once a week to help make varenyky.
Dmytro: It's all women from the parish of the church. So, yeah, that's, like, a part of their social activity. They like to make kind of donation to the church. So by helping here, in Streecha, yeah, they do that.Daria Rykucha: 20 years I've worked in here.
Taryn: 20 years?
Daria: Yeah. I'm here, I like it here. We've got this nice person over here, nice boss.Taryn: Once Dyma's done cutting dough, the women help pinch each dumpling closed.
Taryn: Then they're boiled for five minutes and set beside a window to dry.Dmytro: Oh, oh, don't let them go. They have to package pierogi. Usually we make, like, 2,000 of pierogi every Friday. And then they all gone by the next Wednesday.
Taryn: Each plate is served with caramelized onions and a large dollop of sour cream.- Super comfort food. Definitely gets its flavor from the caramelized onions, he was right. Dmytro: So, savory and soft and silky, maybe. And we can say that about all Ukrainian food. It's a little bit like sweet and salty, I would say.
Helen: It's pleasure to eat. 'Cause you don't even need teeth. You know, they go right, soft inside. Very, very tasty.
Taryn: Along with Ukrainian dumplings, Dyma serves three other traditional dishes.Dmytro: This is, like, four most famous Ukrainian dishes. That's what people comes here for. 'Cause they always wanna see those pierogi, the borscht, stuffed cabbage. If you do something else, they gonna say, where is stuffed cabbage? You're gonna hear it for sure.
Taryn: Although the kitchen serves mostly churchgoers, it's open to the public too. Some come just for Dyma's daily specials, like fish with mushrooms in a cream sauce.
Customer: It's like home-cooked food. I used to always get the borscht and the
Dmytro: OK.Customer: Thank you so much.
Dmytro: Have a good day. You're welcome.Taryn: Dyma left Eastern Ukraine six years ago to escape the ongoing conflict there between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists. Shortly after arriving in New York, he became a volunteer and head of the kitchen at Streecha. Dmytro: At first, they didn't like me. Yeah. "What? There's a new guy. He's young! Like, we are here. Like, we know what to do. He do everything wrong." And, to be honest, I was doing it a little bit wrong. You know, it took me time to get experience, to learn how to do it how they like it. The dough, it was too tough for them. "Make it softer, make it softer." That what I heard. Yeah. And now, now they are my best friends.
Taryn: Dyma's one of many who have found a second home in this little Ukrainian island underground, which fits right in with what Streecha, as a place, was meant to be.
Volunteer: Streecha, it's like an old-fashioned Ukrainian word for "meeting." Like, a place where people meet each other, which makes sense.Taryn: And somehow, even thousands of miles from Ukraine, Dyma's a little bit closer because of Streecha.
Dmytro: I feel myself - not being home, but I'm doing here something that get me closer to home. And that, I told you, that means a lot for me, because I'm missing home so much.
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