I visited Daniel Marlos at the Mt. Washington Slavic Bakery, which is also his home and garden, where he made pirohi and sauerkraut soup for lunch. Daniel teaches photography at Los Angeles City College. He makes photographs, breeds fish, ferments sauerkraut, grows vegetables, and creates incredible quilts. He is also the Bugman on the infamous Whatsthatbug.com website. Daniel learned to make pirohi as a child, when he accompanied his grandmother to the Ukranian church in Youngstown, Ohio. They made pirohi each week.
Daniel is now an expert in the art of preparing pirohi and it takes him nearly no time to whip up a batch of succulent doughy goodness. When I arrived, he had already made the filling, a mix of cheddar cheese and mashed potatoes, and it was my job to shape them into balls while he prepared the dough.
While the dough was in the fridge chilling, we ate sauerkraut soup made with his grandmother’s recipe. It was sour and delicious, and after draining our bowls, Daniel rolled out the dough and cut circles with the rim of a martini glass. It’s the perfect size.
Daniel makes pirohis without looking at a recipe, and he makes it look so effortless. I have never tried to make them at home, because I fear they will take me all day to make and then they might be tough because I am an absolute novice at pirohi making. I also know that Daniel is always game to make a batch of these delectable Eastern European treats. With our busy lives and schedules, it’s amazing to make the time to spend a few hours on a Saturday morning making and eating an incredible food.
The only downside to eating pirohis is that they are so delicious I always eat too many and then I really want to take a nap. Instead of sitting on the porch and watching the shadows fall across the garden, we took a tour of the vegetation and tried to find more things to eat. Presiding over the vegetable beds is a scarecrow that looks exactly like Daniel. This is what guards the garden while he is at work and keeps the crows and squirrels in line and scared.
Daniel’s garden is not only a source of delicious tastes, smells, and sights, but it’s an integral part of his work as an artist. He has made photographs of and in his garden, he has produced beautiful ikebana still lives of vegetables, and he makes cyanotypes of his foliage, much in the style of Anna Atkins, that he then sews into seasonal quilts that describe his plants.
Of course we had to stuff some fresh radishes into our mouths and then go back inside where we ate more pirohi until we felt absolutely full. Two dozen pirohis is a lot to eat between two people! Then I asked Daniel to take my photograph for this blog, since I needed a decent new one. Being that I had pulled a muscle, I was wearing an elastic bandage around my calf. Daniel is great at making me look my best, even when I’m injured.
Our time in the house and garden at a close, I waved goodbye to Daniel and took off down the hill, hoping I’d wake up out of my food coma soon. Thanks, Daniel, for a great afternoon!