HAMMOND | Chicago White Sox fans attending Tuesday's Polish Heritage Night at U.S. Cellular Field can get nostalgic as they munch on some favorite foods from the old country thanks to a Hammond Polish deli.
Mariola and Thomas Magana of M.J. Polish Deli, 7112 Calumet Ave., were chosen by the White Sox to serve up pierogi, blintzes and potato pancakes at the team's annual salute to Poland and its people.
This is the first year that the baseball team is having vendors sell authentic Polish food during the game, said Mariola Magana, who grew up in Poland and immigrated to the U.S.
The Maganas live in East Chicago and bought the deli four years ago from the original owner, Joanna Mielnicki.
"Polish Heritage Night is big every year at U.S. Cellular with music and dancing, but they've never had the food. The patrons said 'we want to have real Polish food'," she said.
Fans of M.J. Polish Deli contacted the White Sox organization to rave about Mariola Magana's pierogi, and in early June team officials called her to inquire about her interest in selling her culinary creations at Tuesday's game.
"I took samples to them and they said they really loved them. They asked if I would like to be part of the festivities. It's a really nice gesture for a Chicago baseball team to have something from Hammond," she said.
Preparation of the 9,000 pierogi Magana plans to serve began in the last few weeks. She is making half the little dumplings with potato filling, the other half with sauerkraut. Magana freezes the pierogi and plans to grill them at the baseball park that day of the game.
"We will offer choices of plates of four pierogi, or two potato pancakes or three blintzes," she said. "They expect 30,000 people at the game. We expect to serve about 10 percent or 3,000 people."
The Maganas will arrive at U.S. Cellular about 1 p.m. and set up their cooking area. The game begins at 7 p.m.
"As much as you try to plan, you don't know how many people will want our food," Magana said.
"I'm excited and scared," she said. "If I sell out, I sell out. I'll be giving out my cards and fliers. We hope people realize that M.J. Polish Deli is so close; closer than going to Chicago."