Polish Cuisine and Recipes
Polish Recipes, Food and Cooking
by Country - May 2005
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Poland is situated in Europe and shares
borders with Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, the Slovak Republic,
the Czech Republic and Germany. It has a 491 km coastline along the
Baltic Sea and is made up of mostly flat plain, about 28% of
forest, with some mountainous regions. It has a temperate climate with
cold winters and mild summers. It boasts a number of rivers and many
Times, History and Influences on Polish cooking
Although the area which now forms Poland has been
occupied for thousands of years, Polish history only dates from the ninth
century when the Polians (dwellers in the field) became the dominant Slavic
tribe in the region .
The two main ingredients used in everyday cooking were meat in particular game
such as wild boar or venison, beef and staple cereals such as rye, wheat and
barley especially in the form of bread. The heavily forested area yielded a good
supply of mushrooms, forest fruits, nuts and honey as did freshwater fish such as pike, perch, sturgeon and carp
and dairy produce. On the whole the cuisine was quite heavy reflecting the need
for warming foods in the cold winters.
With no natural geographical defences, over the years Poland has been the
subject of invasions and land struggles including wars with
Russia, Austria, Sweden and Germany and for a brief time a Polish state was even
supported by Napoleon. The cuisine has been influenced not only by these
countries' culinary traditions, but also from other national groups such as Jews,
Ukrainians, Belarussians and Lithuanians who settled there.
One particularly important influence started
around 1518 when Queen Bona Sforza brought in many chefs from Italy and France.
period, native polish vegetables were supplemented with newly introduced produce
such as lettuce, leek, celery and cabbage, the latter to become a main
ingredient in Polish cooking. Another major influence came from the close trading relations
with the Middle East. These trading links meant that
the price of spices such as juniper, pepper and nutmeg were relatively low and
the use of spices in everyday cuisine became popular one has to say not just as flavourings
but also to mask the smell of badly preserved meats.
The various partitions in the 1700's saw the
subsequent decline of Poland which prior to this time had been one of the
largest countries in Europe. Grain production during this period of
turmoil resulted in potatoes becoming more of a staple often replacing the
traditional cereal staples.
Day Polish Cuisine
Polish food continues to be very hearty with meat still being eaten often
although pork has become the favourite especially in the form of sausages.
Other typical ingredients used in Polish cuisine today are sauerkraut, beetroot,
cucumbers, gherkins, sour cream, eggs, mushrooms, dill, marjoram and
spices such as juniper and paprika. Staples still include potatoes, rye and
bread and various dumplings are often eaten. Dairy produce such as sour cream or
yoghurt frequently form an intrinsic part of dishes.
A typical Polish meal usually
starts with a soup although other appetisers are also eaten, continues
with a meat dish accompanied by vegetables and dumplings or potatoes followed by
a dessert usually in the form of ice cream, cake, doughnuts or fruit.