Srodek's at the Farmers Market
Quick Bite: February 2019
by Lee Lawrence
From the February, 2019 issue
My family may declare loudly "no Christmas or birthday presents!" but we can't seem to stop gifting each other with food--jars of homemade salsa or jelly, fresh-baked cookies snowy with powdered sugar, especially good caramels from a goat farm in Vermont, an intriguing cheese discovered at a new specialty shop.
As Mom's ability to work in the kitchen and to get around diminished, she fell back on food finds available on the Internet, particularly items made in Michigan. She soon discovered Srodek's, a Hamtramck institution for Polish food since 1981. With the family living above and behind the store, and Polish heard as frequently as English, the shop is about as old-world as it gets in modern America.
Happily for Mom, Srodek's offers mail order. Happily for the rest of us, almost two years ago they also set up a table at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. Filling the gap left by the closing of the Copernicus European Delicatessen in the old South Main Market, they come with coolers containing sausages, pierogies, potato pancakes, golabki (stuffed cabbage), even dill pickle soup.
If you've got something specific in mind, get there early. Depending on the week's mix of inventory and customers, they can run out of some items by late morning. In these winter months, soups, which run the gamut from a comforting barley or mushroom to duck's blood with noodles, go quickly. Ditto for kapusta, a sausage, sauerkraut, and potato stew. The traditional pierogis I favor--potato, sauerkraut, mushroom, or cheese--also disappear fast, so, rather than try modern introductions like buffalo chicken or cheeseburger, I tend to wait until the next week. Pierogis are great to keep in the freezer; quick to thaw, they need only a quicker browning in butter with a mess of sauteed onions and cabbage to make a meal.
If I'm really feeling the weather and the need for a bit more luscious fat, Srodek's biala swieza, or fresh kielbasa, is loaded with enough garlic
to kill any incipient cold. For those feeling fine or less enthusiastic about alliums, the chunky smoked krajana kielbasa, which can be eaten uncooked or simmered with their house-made sauerkraut, might be a better alternative. Mom used to order packages of kabanosy or hunter's sausage--long, skinny, smoked, ready-to-eat, snacking batons reminiscent of the pepperoni sticks Dad had made from the venison scraps after he went deer hunting.
While Srodek's has an array of smoked sausages and meats, the last time I visited the market I picked up their kiszka, an already-cooked blood sausage that uses buckwheat as its filler. Prepared as suggested, with bacon, onions, and eggs, it made for a substantial brunch--hey, it's winter!--and the hoppy flavor of the buckwheat really lightened what can be a fairly funky sausage.
But let's face it, Polish food is not generally for the faint of heart--or, in any case, not for light feeders. If, however, like me, you're a little tired of cooking after the holidays and looking for a few fast, easy dinners to warm the cockles, Srodek's has them stocked waiting for you.
[Originally published in February, 2019.]
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