Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Religious Experiences

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Religious Experiences

Article excerpt

Our ascendant dining scene makes it more likely that you can have a religious experience in a great restaurant. But Pittsburgh being Pittsburgh, you still can have some great food experiences in religious settings. So many of our ethnic festivals happen in churches and cathedrals, including the Greek ones that seem to be running, somewhere, every weekend. Other houses of worship open their doors to seasonal feeds, from holiday bake sales and "cookie walks" to spaghetti dinners and even a "Soup-A-Thon" (at Monroeville's St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church). Here are some more votes against the separation of church and steak.

Pierogi churches

Volunteers at churches across the region still regularly make and sell one of the most iconic of Pittsburgh foods: pierogies. Sometimes they just put out a sign: "Pierogies today." One great place to get these dumplings is St. Mary Ukrainian Orthodox Church in McKees Rocks, where they make and sell them every Friday, Labor Day to Memorial Day, to eat in or take out. The church also is home to what they say is Pittsburgh's largest ethnic festival, Ukie Fest, held the last week of July and featuring pierogies, halupki (stuffed cabbage) and halushki (cabbage and noodles), plus lamb sandwiches and Duquesne Pilsener beer. "It keeps the doors open," says Father Timothy Tompson of all the fundraising food, adding, "I used to weigh 170 pounds when I started here. I weigh a lot more now."

Fish fries

Pittsburgh is hooked on Lenten fish fries. In a region with a lot of Catholics, lots of people still give up meat for Lent (the six weeks from Ash Wednesday in February leading up to Easter), but that doesn't mean they don't eat well at fish fries at so many places that the Pittsburgh Catholic newspaper publishes an annual Fish Fry Guide. There's even a Lenten Fish Fry Map online, and an organized tour of churches and their fish fries. While the mainstays remain the fish sandwich and macaroni-and-cheese, a few serve fancier dishes such as linguini with salmon and lobster ravioli, and a few even serve beer: St. Bernard in Mt. Lebanon last year was selling $2 drafts of Great Lakes Brewing Co. …

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