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.

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