Perch and pierogis: Marblehead adds unique twist to traditional fish fry

Mar 5, 2024 | Featured, Entertainment | 0 comments

Valerie and John Kosa have been attending fish fries at St. Joseph Catholic Church for about 50 years. Enjoying the March 1 fish fry are, from left, Valerie Kosa, John Kosa, Rose Wos, Gloria Modliszewski and Frank Modliszewski. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

BY SHERI TRUSTY

Valerie Kosa didn’t grow up Catholic, but she converted to Catholicism before marrying her husband, John Kosa, a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Marblehead. That was 52 years ago, and during that time, the Kosas have attended many fish fries at the parish. On March 1, John kept busy in the kitchen cooking food while Valerie joined friends for dinner in the church hall during the second St. Joseph Knights of Columbus fish fry of the season.

“We’ve been coming to fish fries probably since I joined the church,” Valerie said.

Marblehead fish fries have the distinction of offering pierogis along with the perch.

Marblehead’s ancestral ties to Eastern Europe bring a unique twist to typical Lent fish fries. They feature Lake Erie yellow perch and include pierogis, a traditional Polish dish made of dough, potatoes and cheese that are wildly popular with residents and visitors of the village.

“Pierogis are a tradition in Marblehead,” John said. “We bread and fry the fish here at the church. We’re one of the only fish fries in the area who serve Lake Erie yellow perch.”

Guests enjoyed an unanticipated honor when Bishop Daniel Thomas of the Diocese of Toledo attended the Feb. 16 fish fry.

“The bishop showed up unexpectedly,” Valerie said. “He went around to all the tables.”

K of C Council 12224 Grand Knight, Rob Harrison holds a photo taken when Bishop Daniel Thomas paid a surprise visit to St. Joseph Catholic Church during its Feb. 16 fish fry.

The fish fries serve as a fundraiser for St. Joseph Knights of Columbus (K of C) Council 12224. The group supports several local organizations, including Heartbeat of Ottawa County, Danbury Food Bank and Habitat for Humanity. In 2023, the council volunteered 1,283 hours of service “for faith, family, community and life activities,” said K of C Council 12224 Grand Knight, Rob Harrison.

The council’s benevolent work in the community includes visiting the sick, helping residents with physical and intellectual disabilities, and ringing the bell for the Salvation Army. The group welcomes new member to help them continue their impact in the community.

“Our average age is 72. We’re trying to get young people involved,” Harrison said. “It’s not a big time commitment, and dues are only $30 a year, so it’s not a big financial commitment.”

Lake Erie yellow perch is served at the St. Joseph Knights of Columbus fish fries.

The next fish fry at St. Joseph Church will be held on March 15, 5-7 p.m. St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church in Marblehead will host fish and pierogi dinners on March 8 and 22, 4-7 p.m.

“We go to each other’s fish fries,” Valerie said. “We used to be on the same night, but now we alternate weeks so we can support each other.”

St. Joseph Catholic Church is located at 822 Barclay St. in Marblehead. St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church is located at 506 E. Main St. in Marblehead.

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