The traditions of Podlachia’s cuisine (Podlaska kuchnia)
Podlachia cuisine is the cuisine that was made in the nationality mosaic and historical turmoil. Sometimes common opinion about Podlachia cuisine is based on few dishes like kiszka ziemniaczana, babka ziemniaczana and pyzy. But it’s a wonderful and distinctive cuisine, created thanks to many nations and culture with have interacted together for centuries. This cuisine was created on lands heavily affected by wars and turmoil of history with the use of any gifts of nature. Podlachia cuisine was made by peasants, settlers of different origin and even enemies. It was created by simple people, high-born, polite and honest inhabitants of Podlachia grounds. The original taste is made mostly thanks to the heart given and the material used, which was not lacking in clean forest environment of Podlachia.
It is true that at the beginning of XIX century potatoes become the base of podlachia cuisine, as this region of Russian occupation was poor. Potato Babka, potato pancakes or potato sausage are known and popular in entire country, previously cooked only in Podlachia. Potatoes and lard were the base of poor cuisine, only later flour, eggs and spices were added to potato babka, and the dish was more refined. If after killing a pig intestines were left, then they were cleaned and 2/3 were filled with potato mass and stabbed with fork, put in bread oven until cooked. The stomach was filled with aromatic meat-giblet filling, pressed with weight until it cooled off and people ate wonderful “salceson”.
Next podlachia dish are potato dumplings of long shape and around the size of a fist, called here kartacze. The dough for kartacze consists of potatoes boiled and raw in proportions 3:1. Kartacze are filled usually with boiled, spiced meat. They are served with coating of fried lard and chopped onions. Another delicacy are forest mushrooms prepared in Podlachia in donzen ways.
Let’s not forget bread, which next to potato and mushroom dishes, was the most basic product. Bread was baked in bread oven and sometimes would differ in smell, acidity and taste. In Podlachia’s past there were times when every housewife could cook bread, usually rye bread on natural sourdough. It was baked in cabbage leafs, oak leafs or calamus. Nowadays more and more housewives comes back to baking their own bread. Not so long ago baking bread was considered a shame “wiocha” (literally – village, meant an offense like calling someone a peasant), but today tradition of baking bread became a positive manifestation of family life even in cities.
Completely separate and original element of Podlachia culinary tradition are meat dishes such as kiełbasa palcówka (finger sausage) and venison dishes, which was provided by widespread forests full of hunt animals. Podlachia still is one of Poland’s cleanest regions with great air, miles long forests, full with gifts of nature used in simple and exquisite cuisine.
Holiday and Sunday meals in Podlachia were joined by sweet yeast pastry, rolls with cheese or fruits, ammonia cookies and pancakes filled with fruits or cheese topped with cream with sugar.
Cuisine in Podlachia has also an educational role, being often the background for stories and folk tales about the region, rich history and the history of entire country. When making podlachia dishes you can get to know the story of their origin. Through the stomach to knowledge