The Turkish influence on the Polish cuisine - Coffee

Turkish cuisine is one of the oriental cuisine which had a big impact on Polish cuisine. In the Middle Ages  Turkish merchants brought it to the Polish spices. Among the spices there were  ginger, saffron, pepper, cloves and cinnamon which symbolizes the splendour of the Orient. They were used for meat dishes and pastries. They were also used to suppress the musty smell of bad meat. People  believed that the spices contributed to digesting food, sharpening the appetite, and even  "purifying the blood”. However, their prices were high, so the spices were used only for the rich .  Foreigners were amazed at the excessive use of spices in a multitude of Polish dishes.
The oriental influences increased even more during the reign of Jan III Sobieski.  During the siege of Vienna Polish soldiers captured a load of Turkish coffee. The custom of drinking coffee  first appeared in the affluent circles of Gdansk.

                                                                           Jan Matejko - "Sobieski at Vienna "

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries  drinking  coffee spread among the middle class. In rich homes a special department, kawiarki, was maintained-. Although the Polish coffee reached the East and the West, Turkish mocha was regarded as the best It was later  supplanted by different varieties of coffee from Brazil.
In the eighteenth century the influx of oriental sweets  increased. The sorbet, or frozen fruit drinksfried in honey fruits, candied fruits fried in sugar syrup, and especially having a spicy taste enjoyed recognition. The oriental sweets included  nuts, almonds, honey, sesame seeds, raisins, sugar, fat and spices with natural dyes. They aroused enthusiasm  by their taste, aroma and colour.  Makagigi, rachatłukum (which in Arabic means "throat comfort") and biscuits with kajmak (which in Turkish means the cream) were sold. In the nineteenth century  Krakow and Lviv welcomed a arrival of sweets such as halva, bambuchy, nugaty and many others.

Turkish coffee in the Polish style
 It is a coffee which I remember with the communistic time in Poland but some times you can order it in Polish restaurant.

2 tbsp ground coffe
boiling water

Into the glass put ground coffee, 
pour boiling water and if you like add sugar.
Serve it with  cookies.


The Lithuanian influence on the Polish cuisine - Bigos

In the fourteenth century Lithuania had the same kings as Poland.  In 1569 Poland and Lithuania  signed a union and one federal state was created. 
                                                                                                         Jan Matejko  "Lublin union"
In his poem “Pan Tadeusz” Adam Mickiewicz described  the culture mix which  resulted from the merger of these two countries. Mickiewicz wrote there that Poland and Lithuania were like a marriage that loves and hates each other at the same time. “Bóg łaczył a diabeł dzielił. (God reconciled but devil divided)”. The last separation was in 1918 when Poland and Lithuania regained independence as two separate countries.

Polish and Lithuanian culture and cuisine had a large influence on each other. Some traditional Polish meals originated in Lithuania. The borsch, bigos and cepelinai (pyzy), which belong to the Polish tradition, are typical Lithuanian dishes.  Lithuanian cuisine uses  lots of fresh cream in many dishes. Polish housewives started to use  fresh cream more often. Currently in every Polish fridge you can find a cup of fresh cream ready to use in soups, sauces, desserts or sometimes we add it to coffee.

                                                                       Andrzej Wajda "Pan Tadeusz" part of movie

Lithuania was rich in forests full of wild game and its rivers were full of fish. There were Kings who liked hunting in summer. The meat of wild game, mushrooms and fruit from Lithuania often dominated on  Polish tables. 
The mead, which was very popular among Polish nobility, comes from this country too. In his poem Mickiewicz described  nobility feasts, serving dishes and their preparation in Lithuaniain great detail.  At those times most of the Lithuanian nobility considered themselves as Poles and used the Polish language. The poem “Pan Tadeusz” isn’t only about the Lithuanian nobility, it is also about the impact of both nations on each other.
 I love this poem, especially descriptions of food. It is a historical poem but for me it is a very sentimental cooking book. 

                                                                                         Andrzej Wajda "Pan Tadeusz" part of movie

Now Lithuanian cuisine still has an influence on the Polish one but it not to such a huge extent.
Poles rediscovered  kindziuk, kugelis, bliny and bread drink. I think that the cuisine will be a platform for communicatione between Poles and Lithuanians.   

Bigos is my favorite dish which comes from Lithuania. Below is translation of part of poem "Pan Tadeusz" where is  described  Bigos.  

In the pots warmed the bigos; mere words cannot tell
Of its wondrous taste, colour and marvellous smell.
One can hear the words buzz, and the rhymes ebb and flow,
But its content no city digestion can know.
To appreciate the Lithuanian folksong and folk food,
You need health, live on land, and be back from the wood.

Without these, still a dish of no mediocre worth
Is bigos, made from legumes, best grown in the earth;
Pickled cabbage comes foremost, and properly chopped,
Which itself, is the saying, will in ones mouth hop;
In the boiler enclosed, with its moist bosom shields
Choicest morsels of meat raised on greenest of fields;
Then it simmers, till fire has extracted each drop
Of live juice, and the liquid boils over the top,
And the heady aroma wafts gently afar.

 Adam Mickiewicz, Pan Tadeusz, Book 4: Diplomacy and Hunt 
Translated by Marcel Weyland

Bigos recipe

1 kg. sauerkraut, washed and drained
1 kg white cabbage, shredded
250gram of sausage, sliced into ½" pieces
250 gram of smoked ham, cubed
250 gram of smoked pork, cubed
250 gram of  bacon, chopped
250 gram of beef or venison cubed
10 gram of dried mushrooms;
4 prunes, chopped
2 apples, cored and cubed
1 glass of red wine
1 tbsp of honey
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp juniper fruit; (optional)
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp peppercorns.

Prepare the ingredients as listed above. Simmer the cabbage until soft (1/2 to 1 hour), then drain. Meanwhile, cook the bacon and set aside, preserving the fat. In the bacon fat sauté the onions and garlic, and brown the remaining meat except the sausage. Combine all ingredients in a pot and cook: in a slow cooker, set on "low" for 5–10 hours; on the stove, cook briefly on medium and then simmer 2–3 hours.
Refrigerate any leftovers and reheat for serving. The flavor improves each time, peaking around the third day. Many like to freeze it solid before thawing, heating and eating. Traditionally, it was left out in the freezing cold to store.


The Austrian influence on the Polish cuisine - Vienna Schnitzel

 What is  Austrian cuisine  is difficult to determine.  Austrian experts say that "The Austrian National Cuisine" as a concept does not exist.  This has good reasons.  In the past the following parts of Europe belonged to the Austrian territory : the present Czech Republic and Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, ex-Yugoslavia, and the northern regions of Italy. ​​Each of the conquered nations had its own language, culture and also culinary traditions. It is therefore understandable that they had a substantial impact on what Austrian people cook and eat today. In contrast to the regional cuisines, Vienna built its own "Viennese cuisine” which spread under that name in the world. To the obtained from different parts of Europe recipes they added their own creations, often creating entirely new dishes, but from a distance similar to their prototypes.

Viennese cuisine had a big impact on Polish cuisine, especially on Krakow cuisine. The spirit of the Habsburg Empire cuisine still hovers over Krakow. When you are in Krakow, you can very easily find places where CK-cuisine  is served. CK-cuisine in Krakow means Vienna cuisine.  Between 1848 and 1918 the Grand Duchy of Krakow was created. It was dependent on Austria. This way,  Vienna cuisine had a very deep impact on Polish and especially Krakow cuisine.

                                                         Entry of Emperor Franz Joseph to Krakow - Juliusz Kossak

Polish cuisine owes Vienna cuisine "salceson" with pork served in mustard sauce as an appetizer, the Viennese schnitzel, and the Viennese eggs served at breakfast.
 Austrian cuisine has also clear influences on Krakow pastry shops which invariably offer two specialities from Vienna: Sacher cake and Piszinger. The first one which was invented by Franz Sacher in 1832 is a chocolate cake layered with apricot jam and chocolate sauce. The second one is devised by a confectioner Oscar Pischinger and  is based on waffles, milk, butter, sugar and cocoa.  Viennese cheesecake served with vanilla cream or chocolate sauce is also of Austrian origin.

Below there is a recipe for my favourite Vienna Schnitzel.

4 veal cutlet from the thigh (about 200-250g each)
2-3 eggs
200 g breadcrumbs
200 g flour
3 tablespoons pork lard or oil
4 tablespoons butter
1 lemon
bunch parsley

Beat the veal cutlet and season it with salt. Coat each chicken cutlet in flour, then dip in beaten eggs and toss in bread crumbs. Make sure the meat is evenly coated. Fry on both sides in hot lard or oil for 3-4 minutes.
When the schnitzel  becomes golden brown, drain it off the fat on a kitchen cloth and serve it with lemon and parsley.



Lithuanian Honey Kvass

I wouldn't like to die too soon. There is so many things to try, to eat! Grass-smelling olive oils, crispy ethnic breads, strange fruits, wild meats and  papaya moonshine. I couldn't tell what I would like to have for my last supper. Two of my most beloved dishes were... chocolate desserts while in a properly disigned meal you are supposed to have only one dessert. Certainly I am not going to die because of hunger. I am going to try as much I can through my whole life. Egg starters, so popular decades ago when it was not so easy to cook in old-fashioned kitchens -  so basic yet so tempting as so many others. Not to mention our Lithuanian red beetroot blinis -haven't you heard that the British version of  the beetroot blinis was served last Friday in Buckingham Palace with salmon rosettes?
Following some request, I come back to bread matters but from a different perspective. Kvass generally is known as a Russian beer made from rye and barley must or from soaked and fermented black bread. It is dark in colour, slightly alcoholic (0,5-1,05 %) and has a bitter-sweet taste considerably depending on the bread used. At home you use freash yeasts and sugar to drive the fermentation process. In Lithuania they got a plethora of recipes for their refreshing drinks. As soon as the warmer period comes, it is late spring, they put a kvass to develop.

Lithuanian Honey Kvass

150 ml fair honey
1,5 l water
3 g fresh yeasts
30 g washed raisins
half of one lemon

1. Dissolve honey in a boiling water (you don't have to boil it). Cool down to 30 Celsius degrees.
2. Pund yeasts with about 5 tablespoons of the tepid honey water and leave for about 20 minutes in moderate temperature (about 20-25 degrees) to start working. When frothy add to the rest of the honey water, cover with a cloth and leave at the same temperature for 24 hours.
3. Remove the froth from the surface, strain through a sieve covered with a cloth (do not pour in the rubbish from the bottom). Pour into clean, dry bottles, with few raisins per bottle. Close tightly, place in a cold place and wait. This kvass is the best after 5-7 days and keep well in the fridge for another week. 

I would suggest a plastic bottle as you will see the pressure inside the bottle would rise. Be careful while opening it as you would open a beer can. I used the plastic drink container with gasket and immediately after sieving I put it to the fridge, it worked very very well. Certainly your friend will be surprised where the hell you got this nice and cheap chateau from a plastic bottle!

This is a noble kind of kvass, it is said that is's best after seven days, I found it best after five, maybe ageing went faster because of the temperature in my flat (around 26 Celsius degrees). It has a distinctive honey taste, is ideally sweet and at the 5th day it has an appropriate amount of little bubbles. You would feel a tickle in your nose and changes in your body's weight later. Generally honey kvass tastes like a nicely balanced white wine. Just please remember, there are other varieties, like caraway seed kvass, cranberry, apple juice, mint&tarragon, whey (!), red beetroot, carrot...You would forget the Coke exists. Unless you would find yourself on a tropical island - then you would discover an absolutely different refreshing drink. But this is totally different story...


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