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A tale of love, war and pierogi

"Every now and then we come across a story that demonstrates the power food has to heal bodies and spirits, to unite people in shared experience or to create an unbreakable tie to home. The story of The Tisto Factory has all three.

Flour
Stiped pierogi Ciao Bella
baker with flour

This particular food story begins with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Hailing from the small town of Konstantinovka, near the Eastern front, the Posikera family was close to the fighting and threatened daily with falling bombs and gunfire. In a gut-wrenching decision, Anna and Vladimir packed up their car with a few toys, some clothes, their two small children (Illia and Nikita), Anna’s mother, Inna Malmyhina, and fled west, away from the fighting.

“We could only travel about 300 km a day, as our youngest son was just one year old and couldn’t handle the constant road trips,” says Anna. “Everywhere we stopped, we heard sirens, explosions and gunfire, as the entire country was being bombarded with missiles. It was a harrowing experience, and we knew we had to keep moving to keep our family safe.”

But the fighting was always just at their heels and after driving thousands of kilometers, the family decided Ukraine was no longer safe and they had to make a fresh start somewhere else. That somewhere else was Calgary. On the advice of relatives who’d emigrated years before, the Posikeras took advantage of the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel Measures (CUAET) and headed to Calgary with very few belongings and even less English. But Calgarians came through for them.

“We were initially apprehensive, but we were met with warmth and kindness at every turn,” says Anna. “(Calgarians) were incredibly supportive, offering us toys, household items, and anything else we needed to help us get settled.

Settling included making friends and soon the family was invited to a potluck. As the Posikera children were notoriously picky eaters, Anna had developed a pierogi recipe that integrated vegetable pastes like carrots, beets, spinach and cabbage, making them colourful and bright and far more interesting to the kids and partygoers.

The gorgeous (and delicious) striped pierogi were a hit at the party and the Posikeras were soon convinced to start a business making and selling them.

Selling their car to cover start-up costs, the family rented a commercial kitchen and began experimenting with colours, textures and great names for the different flavours, including Bumble Bee, Agent Spinach, Blue Ninja, Chicken-in-law and others. Today, The Tisto (meaning “dough” in Ukrainian) Factory is a going concern with a full range of products available for sale online.

Creating these quintessentially Ukrainian dumplings has given the family an opportunity not only to share their story and their culture with their new Canadian neighbours, but also to remind them of their history, their home and to honour the friends and family who are still fighting." 

"A tale of love, war and pierogi" ©

by Savour Calgary 

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