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Dimensions 234 x 156 mm
The cooking of the Polish kitchen is hearty winter fare influenced by French cooking, Jewish tradition, the fasting and feasting of the Catholic Church, the country's dark rich soil, and severe climate. Since its beginnings a thousand years ago Poland has been torn apart by war and conflict, patched together, expanded and contracted. That it has preserved its customs, traditions and cuisine through these transmutations is attributed to the indomitable Polish spirit nurtured by the Church, whose elaborate ceremonies still play a prominent role in the lives of the Poles and what they eat.
The bitter winters mean that many of the essential Polish ingredients are those that can be preserved or stored: dried mushrooms, pickled herrings, sauerkraut, root vegetables, hot paprika paste, fruits in syrup and cucumbers in brine. The Poles enjoy meat especially pork, producing famous sausages, hams, black puddings, tongues and brawn, as well as a rich variety of game, which features in one of the most famous of Polish dishes, Bigos (or Huntsman's Stew). The Baltic tradition of cured fish means herring exists in every form and the delicious delicacy of smoked eel. With the prevalence of meat and fish go their natural accompaniments of sour cream, dill and horseradish. Many of the country's soups and stews have delightful sweet-sour flavours, so comforting in cold weather. There are gooey pastries filled with curd cheese or tart plum jam and of course the flavoured vodkas are another ancient art, drunk chilled and neat at every occasion.
Polish food is domestic, comfort food ideal for those cold winter months when nothing other than a hearty soup or rich flavoured stew will do and when generous hospitality is the order of the day. It is the perfect cooking to create from store cupboard essentials.
Drawing on the culinary archives and expertise of her family and friends, Mary Pininska's The Polish Kitchen is a treasury of Polish cooking ancient and modern. It is enlivened with personal anecdotes and spiced with a wealth of customs and folk traditions.
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