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Finding The Best Food For Lent

LACKAWANNA COUNTY — In Old Forge, the so-called “Pizza Capital of the World”, Fridays are always busy for the pizza shops here in town, but it’s the few Fridays between Ash Wednesday and Easter that bring in some of the best business all year. Today we travelled all over Lackawanna County to see which traditional Lenten foods sell best.

For Valerie Jankowski, a manager at Mamma Mia’s pizzeria in Clarks Summit, putting together the perfect combination of mashed potatoes, onions and cheese is an art that was passed down to her from her dad.

“My dad makes really, really good potatoes, so he gave me the good recipe.”

The mashed potato pizza, known as pogash, is a Polish Lenten tradition and a traditionally big seller a Mamma Mia’s this time of year. Managers say red pizza sells big too on Fridays but without the pepperoni, of course.

“We probably do triple what we normally do on Fridays before lent, so with Lent here it will be even more busy. And then we sell a lot of the pogash pizza so that’s a lot of prepping and making potatoes and all that,” said Jankowski.

An increase in potato intake during Lent is something a lot of churches in Lackawanna County bank on in places like St. Michael’s Ukranian Church in west Scranton. They sell frozen pierogies year-round, but, the next 40 or so days will be very busy.

“This is our money-making time, here in Lent, absolutely. We have way more people coming in. People will come in and buy 10, 20 dozen at a time,” said Sharon Monahan.

Some people like to cook at home on a Friday in Lent, that’s why at Schiff’s in Scranton they stock up with about 50 percent more frozen fish than any other time of the year.

“Your cheaper fish is what sells for the Lenten holiday, not so much the shrimp and lobster, it’s not that kind of a holiday,” said Ed Romanski.

Romanski is a buyer for Schiff’s, He plans for much more cod and haddock leading up to Easter, and not just for families. Churches come to him and buy in bulk.

“On your fin fish, you’re probably going to sell about 50 percent more during this time than you would on a normal basis.”


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