Piggy Preparation Underway for St. Mary’s Homecoming Picnic in Mocanaqua

MOCANAQUA -- You don't see many assembly lines like this anymore. It's in the basement of St. Mary's along Main Street in Mocanaqua.

This is where about a dozen volunteers are making pigs in a blanket for the annual church picnic.

The cabbages were boiled, separated into leaves, and ready to go.

"We put the cabbage leaves on towels in case they're too wet and then the towel absorbs the wetness from it," explained volunteer Carol Howell, because nobody likes a soggy piggy.

At the other end of the room is where they make the filling; beef and rice are the main ingredients.

"We put them in the oven. We cook them for three hours. They come out and everybody says, 'Wow, these are delicious!'" said volunteer Leon Zimolzak.

But the man at the mixer, Leon Zimolzak, fears the tradition here, started in 1933, might come to an end one of these years. He says the church isn't getting the younger volunteers they need to keep the piggie process going.

Gloria Handzelek is another of the volunteers. She's been rolling her own, and yours, too, for about 50 years.

"We know we're doing something good for the church, and we enjoy being together," said Handzelek. "One big happy family."

The family knows its food. By the time they are done, they will have crafted 1,000 piggies, using 45 large heads of cabbage and 240 pounds of ground beef.

The recipe is a secret, but it's all ingredients you have around the house. It seems the key to a St. Mary's piggy is in the size and the proportion.

They're big, a cup of filling in each, and you get two in an order. There isn't a lot of rice as filler, and the people here stress it's real rice, not the instant stuff.

You'll have to wait a while before you get your hands on a St. Mary's piggy. After the assembly, they'll be cooked, then frozen. The annual "Homecoming Picnic" begins the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend.

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