For 17 years, sisters-in-law Pat Jorgensen and Pat Tuthill sold fried meat and fruit pies outside the Puyallup fairgrounds on Fairview Drive.
You’d remember it if you ever walked by their meat pie truck. The waft of fried meat was unmistakable … Oh, wait. Nevermind. The entire Puyallup Fair smells like fried meat. Discerning that particular scent of fried meat might be tough, but once you bite into a fleischkuechle fried pie, you don’t forget the flavor.
It’s a German-Russian dish that’s a flat, fried turnover filled with a round of seasoned ground beef. It’s almost like a flattened piroshky, just less yeasty. They also sell fruity versions in cherry and apple. It’s pronounced fleisch-KOOSH-lay or fleisch-KEESH-lay, depending on your European address.
Last year, Jorgensen and Tuthill were told they‘d lose their longtime spot outside the fair after the fair bought the private property where the truck operated. The women took that as a sign to retire and close down Miller’s Fleischkuechle, a business that had been in their family for 50 years. You might remember reading this story about the end of their fried pie era.
Then came along Jorgensen family friend Virginia “Ginny” Vrieze and her son Ben Vrieze. The family members go way back to both patriarchs of the Jorgensen and Vrieze families running cabinet-making businesses in Puyallup. When they heard the pie truck would be no more, the Vrieze family offered to take over the business. The Vrieze family now runs the truck, but longtime meat pie aficionados will recognize the women at the fryers: Tuthill works the afternoon shift and Jorgensen works mornings. They’re still using the same recipes they always have, creating a tender, flaky crust that breaks into a beefy tasting interior. There’s little to dislike about a fried meat pie when it’s done right. And this truck does them right.
When I chatted with Ben Vrieze on the phone (yes, you can call in your fried pie order!), he said the family was happy to continue a legacy they’ve admired since striking up the family friendship. Vrieze said he loves introducing people to the pies. “I didn’t have one until I want to say 10 years ago, but, I mean, it’s just awesome. And my wife hadn’t had one until this year. She bit into one, she’s just like, “It’s like magic in your mouth.” The only thing that could improve upon the recipe, Vrieze said, would be to “add bacon.”
The pie truck has moved down a few blocks to where Ninth intersects with South Meridian. Just look for Cattin’s restaurant and you’ll see them.
And speaking of fried things at the fair, have you been hearing all the buzz about deep-fried butter? I gave it a try earlier this week and I think I’m still recovering. It was terrible. Cold globs of butter surrounded by greasy dough is not my idea of good eating.
A tender, flaky fleischkuechle filled with seasoned meat is right up my alley, though. Check back here tomorrow for more thoughts on deep-fried gluttony at the fair, which runs through Sept. 25 in Puyallup.
Where: Near the intersection where Ninth meets South Meridian at the Puyallup Fair (Cattin’s Restaurant is nearby, 105 Ninth Ave. S.W., Puyallup)
Phone ahead: 253-677-1759
Find them on Facebook here.