Meat

Meat

By
Zuza Zak
Contains
8 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
9781849497268
Photographer
Laura Edwards

“Toute la Pologne est le plus beau pays de chasse que je jamais vu.”

“The entire country of Poland is the most beautiful hunting ground that I’ve ever seen.”

{Jean Francois de Regnard, 1655–1709}

Perceptions of Poland as a meat-loving country are not unfounded. As a Catholic country our culinary culture is based on fasting and feasting, during times of fast we eat fish, while the feasting is marked by the presence of a multitude of meats. As with many other Catholic countries, pork is very popular, and we have many well-loved cured meats and dried sausages such as kabanosy and myśliwska. When looking at Poland’s history there is no denying the influence that hunting has had on the Polish cuisine. All types of game are still revered in the kitchen, even though we do not hunt like we used to.

“Milej patrzeć na dziewkę ktora jedzie pięknie na koniu ze sajdakiem niż kiedy się ociągnie ciasnym inderakiem.”

“A girl who rides a horse with grace, bow and arrow in hand, is more pleasing to the eye than when she’s in a tight dress bound.”

{Marcin Bielski, 16th Century}

I love the sentiment behind this quote, the appreciation of a woman’s hunting skills and her somewhat wild nature, talent and freedom of spirit. For the 16th Century it seems remarkably progressive, although within the context of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth perhaps unsurprising, as it was hailed as the most religiously tolerant and progressive land in Europe at the time with a multi-ethnic population of approximately eleven million.

We are a nation of game lovers and having read many historical Polish cookbooks I have found not only many recipes for game itself, but also recipes which make other meats taste more gamey! If you don’t eat meat on a daily basis, then I would suggest going to a good butcher once or twice a week and trying out some local game and unusual cuts on the days that you do decide to treat yourself.

The preferred meat of choice depends on Polish regionality: the separatist seaside Kaszuby area is known for its geese; Sląsk, an area with German and Austrian influences, specialises on cooking rabbit in many different ways; whereas in Poznań, they love their duck. It is only in the Kresy area – on the border of Belarus and Ukraine – that meat becomes less popular, as it comes second place to mushrooms, blinis and kaszas, though veal and lamb are considered to be a rare treat. When looking at the country as a whole, pork seems to be the most popular of all the meats on offer due to its versatility. It’s found in many dishes, though sometimes only in small quantities, simply as a means to enhance flavour.

Recipes in this Chapter

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