Polska Foods® specializes in gourmet pierogi with organic ingredients and is a privately-held company based in Saratoga, CA, founded by Mr. and Mrs. Piszczek in 2010. Below is the story behind Polska Foods® and the idea that brought their home-made Pierogi to California! You can learn how we make our pierogi here.
by: Mrs. Piszczek
My first trip to Poland was with my new husband, who brought me there to visit his family for the first time. It was during the Christmas holidays, so we had lots of time for conversing and meeting family. Unfortunately, I didn’t speak any Polish. I was born and raised in California, a true CA girl who grew up on the Santa Cruz beaches, Tahoe mountains, and the city streets of San Francisco. As most residents here, the only other language I spoke was a little Spanish.
I thought I could learn a little Polish before my visit, but quickly realized that the Polish language is more difficult than walking on a balance beam blind-folded. So, I sat around the kitchen table hour after hour, using sign language, lots of smiles, and hoping that in some small way, his parents could get to know me, their new daughter-in-law, through some sort of miracle communication.
The good news is that love always prevails, and the shared moments of expressing our feelings for each other happened through the most inconspicuous medium: food. As we sat, hour after hour--breakfast, lunch, and dinner--at this large Polish table just shy of the kitchen bar, my husband’s mother brought dish after dish of homemade Polish food. The eggs were fresh from their chickens outside, the meat was from their neighbor's farm, the fruit was from their fruit trees, and even the honey we spread on our bread was fresh from Tomek's father's bee hive nested in their backyard to help pollinate all their fruit trees and vegetables.
But the most amazing dish that truly touched my heart was the Pierogi, all hand-made by my husband and his mother who used only fresh ingredients. My first Pierogi experience was on a snowy day (minus 4 degrees F outside), and we had been hiking through the thick woods outside of Jelena Gora in Poland. After building up a good appetite, we finally headed home, more to just defrost our feet and noses. As I opened the large thick wooden front door, a waft of rich potato, herbs, mushrooms, and various seasonings filled my senses. We dropped our backpacks and bolted straight for the kitchen.
As my husband and I sat at the table, drooling, his mother began to serve us different varieties of Pierogi that she had slaved over all day. First was the famous potato, cheese, and onion Pierogi made with a delicate olive oil and onion sauce. As I took my first bite, my teeth sank into a soft, warm dough filled with immense flavor. Dumb-founded, I told my husband, “This redefines comfort food.” He laughed and translated to the perplexed faces in the room. He explained to his mother that "comfort food" was food that provided comfort instead of just nutrition to his family. He explained that it reminds us of home, which can often bring up old childhood memories where all the care you had in the world was playing with friends and what mother was going to fix for dinner. This may have been a bit difficult to explain when all you are used to eating is fresh, homecooked food your entire life. In their mind, all food is "comfort food."
As my husband struggled to translate "comfort food" to his family, I realized this was not a good enough explanation for what we were experiencing. When I bit into the next round of Pierogi, filled with sauerkraut and mushroom, I realized that the food brought me more than just comfort. It allowed me to connect with my husband’s family during a time when words became such a barrier. Her Polish food reminded me of how you can show someone you care by offering them the most tasty, nourishing food you can make from mother earth. Her food expressed love. It was at this moment that I transcended my need to communicate to my new family, and just enjoyed our new form of sharing.
When I looked up at my husband’s mother, I saw her watching us devour her incredible Pierogi. She smiled from ear to ear and I even noticed a glimmer in her eye. My husband’s mother and I had a new bond from that point on, even though to this day, we have never spoken more than a few words to each other.
When we came home from that trip, all I could think about was how I could get more Pierogi at home in California. Try as we might, not only was it hard to find, but some of it didn’t taste even close to the homemade versions my husband’s mother made in Poland. Luckily, my husband had been making his family's Pierogi his whole life so he started to make them for me. And, as part of tradition, you must share your good food with those you love.
What was surprising was the reaction we got from family and friends when they too tried his Pierogi. “This is delicious!” “Where can I get more?” It was then that we decided to start a business making Pierogi for family and friends, and eventually to neighbors and more. From this point on, our focus has been simple. Our goal is not about just offering food for sale to the public, it is about offering an experience. Food should nourish your body and warm the heart. Each ingredient should be carefully selected and artfully combined, providing an array of flavor that dances on each taste bud.
To mimic that experience we had in Poland, we work with only local farms for all our ingredients, and if we can get organic, we make sure to get not only the best, but the freshest, organic ingredients available. Of course, this was not easy. It involved almost a year of research, lots of phone calls, product tests, and personal visits to each farm or factory!
We feel that the end result was worth it.
True "comfort food" should not just taste good, but provide nourishment, and especially a feeling of being safe. Our Pierogi has no additives or preservatives. We add absolutely nothing artificial, no GMOs, no MSG, and use organic ingredients. Our goal was to accomplish what home cooked, comfort food provides—a feeling of love.
We hope you too can enjoy a "bite" of what we experienced in Poland through our Polish Pierogi. Heat, top with your favorite sauce, take a bite, relax, and see if you can feel the love that goes into making real, home-cooked food.
If you really like it, all we ask is that you tell a friend about us.
For a video about us, check it out: