[Sca-cooks] Polish cookbook

Jadwiga Zajaczkowa / Jenne Heise jenne at fiedlerfamily.net
Sat Aug 25 19:17:29 PDT 2007

> Has anyone gotten this book?
> http://tinyurl.com/2ex96n
> Food and Drink in Medieval Poland.

Yes, I have it. *rummages around on my website for the review* Ah, here 
it is in the Florilegium

> The long-awaited book _Food and Drink in Medieval Poland: 
Rediscovering a
> Cuisine of the Past_, which is an adaptation by William Woys Weaver of 
> 1963 volume by Maria Dembinska, is finally available. I know, because 
> university bookstore just delivered my copy into my little hot hands
> today.


> First, the bad news. It's an adaptation of a translation, so a lot of 
the extensive annotations that Weaver says were in the main text were 

> It includes a section of recipes, but all of them are RECREATIONS, not  
redactions or original recipes. The first cookbook in Polish was not  
published until 1532, thus putting it outside the scope of the academic
definition of medievalism. (But wouldn't I love to get my hands on a 
translation of that!) As a result, the author(s) derive their data 
> archaelogy/ethnography, economic history, household accounts, and 
> cookbooks that might/would have been available to the Polish nobility,
> among other sources.

> That's the bad news. The good news: this is by far the most 
comprehensive book on the subject, and the most historical, I have come 
across in my 
reading. The original author was a recognized academic expert, and the 
adaptor is a food historian. Not only is the book excellently written, 
but it is jammed with not only food history, but food historiography, 
ethnography, archaelogy, and domestic and political history. The 
recipes are excellent, though some of them will require ingredients only 
available to the diligent gardener. The cook wishing to present a 
period table will find the comments on cooking and serving in the period 
manner invaluable. The illustrations-- drool, drool-- include not only a 
few of the usual woodcut reproductions and coats of arms, but 21 drawings of 
actual medieval cooking utensils, and illustrations of various 
vegetables. The author(s) in analysis are careful to note where assumptions are 
being made or theories advanced, and to point out holes in the documentation
> and/or history.

> Chapter 1, "Toward a definition of Polish National Cookery", is 
actually a essay on cookbooks, food history, and general comments on 
'Polish' cuisine as a style. In a way, it is also a review of the records 
available for researching Medieval Polish cooking.

> Chapter 2, "Poland in the Middle Ages" is meant to be a backdrop, a 
review of the history of Poland as it affects food and food history, for 
those not familiar with the history. But it is also about domestic 
> Pages 42 and 43 show two excellent illustrations of medieval forks and
> information about the few records of forks outside the Byzantine 
empire in
> the middle ages. Of special interest is the section on the Cracow 
> of 1364.

> Chapter 3, "The Dramatis Personae of the Old Polish Table", not only 
> a exhaustive list of staff associated with the Royal court and 
> with food -- with descriptions of their duties and their Latin and 
> titles-- but also describes the style of serving and approximate
> quantities. It also gives a descriptive list of the furnishings of the

> medieval Polish kitchen and units of measure.

> Chapter 4, "Food and Drink in Medieval Poland", covers drink (types

> of wine, beer, mead, and even a nod to vodka), meat (beef, pork 

> sausages], organ meats and veal, poultry, game and fish), grains, 

> and baked goods, kitchen produce, and fruits and nuts.


> The second section of the book, "Medieval Recipes in the Polish 

> includes recipes for:

> - Gruel of Mixed Grains

> - Courtier's Pottage

> - Compositium of Cabbage, Chard, Dill and Mushrooms

> - Stew of Parsnips, Leeks and Alexanders

> - Cheese Dumplings

> - Pears stewed with cucumbers and figs

> - Chicken Baked with Prunes

> - Green Mustard Sauce

> - Lentils and Skirrets with Bacon

> - Beer Soup with Cheese and Eggs

> - Millet Flour Soup

> - Oat Flour Soup

> - Polish Hydromel

> - Fermented Barley Soup

> - Fish Aspic

> - Prepared Fish stock

> - Lavender Vinegar

> - Game Stewed with Sauerkraut

> - Hashmeat in the Cypriot Style

> - Saffron Wafers

> - Pike in Polish Sauce

> - Fast Day Pancakes

> - Ham stewed with cucumbers

> - Wroclaw Trencher Bread

> - Thick Beer or Sourdough Starter

> - Turnip Kugel

> - Tripe in Sauerkraut

> - Polish Sauce for Fast days and Tripe

> - Court Dish of Baked Fruit

> - Skirrets Stewed with Fish

> - Stewed Pig Tails with Buckwheat Gruel

> - Pomeranian Trojniak

> - Hungarian Style Spit-Roasted Shoulder of Venison

> - Cubeb Vinegar

> - Turnip Gruel


> Of special interest will be the comments on Trenchers, their creation 

> use in the Trencher Bread recipe, and the comments on spit-roasting in 

> venison recipe.


> The book includes an extensive bibliography and a very nice index. 

> reading the notes is an education).


> Full citation in case I've convinced you you need this book (You do, 

> me, you do!):


> Food and Drink in Medieval Poland : Rediscovering a Cuisine of the 

> by Maria Dembinska, Magdalena Thomas (Translator), William Woys Weaver

> (Editor) (Philadephia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999); ISBN:

> 0812232240. List price is $29.95.


-- Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, Knowledge Pika jenne at fiedlerfamily.net 
"I thought you might need rescuing . . . We have a bunch of professors 
wandering around who need students." -- Dan Guernsey

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