Winning Life’s Battles with Friendship, and Healing the Wounds with Pierogies

Dish 14: Pierogies at Snackbar, 20th and Manning,

Dani and I have been friends for a very long time. She was wearing a light turquoise cap sleeve tee shirt from Express the first time we ever spoke, in World History, freshman year of high school. She sat diagonally behind me, and one of my good friends at the time sat directly behind me and made the introduction—“This is Dani. She’s really cool.”

And she was! It wasn’t long before she and I were nearly inseparable. We were on the cheerleading team together, did hair and makeup for the school play together—The King and I, gallons and gallons of black hair gel to transform white kids into Siamese princes and princesses—we cooked Mexican food together, we mixed our juice with water and dieted together, and we did our senior community project together, a huge mural in the gym that read “Let’s Go Knights!”.

Something about the senior project broke our friendship, and though we both went off to college in Philly, we didn’t speak for a year; the following summer, Tracy had had enough and put us back together. Shortly thereafter, Biscuit and I visited her at school and the three of us stayed out all night; when we could barely hold our eyes open, Dani made pierogies with onions. I can still smell them. It was the mouthwatering scent of salve on quickly-healing wounds.

Three years later, she and I are sitting in Snackbar after one of those weeks where it looks like you might lose life’s little battles, if it wasn’t for your friends to hold you up; the memory of the year we didn’t speak is so foreign it may never have happened. And we are, ever so appropriately, eating pierogies again.

It was only fitting that Snackbar’s pierogies would have the same warming, calming, filling effect, but three years more grown-up. They were chewy, toasted on one side, and the chive sauce and caviar elevated the dish to a darker, more sultry level- fresh but serious, salty, chivey- like being at the bottom of the ocean and also back at home, five years old, and picking onion grass in the yard with my playmates, old and young, land and sea and across the sea; the caviar brought to mind the Eastern European roots of the pierogie and seemed especially well thought-out.

I could feel the tension lines relaxing on our faces as we ate the pierogies, familiar and still exotic, like the best of friendships; the worries fading, the fond memories rising, that we can face anything when we face it together.


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