Thursday, April 29, 2010

Encyclopedia of Polish cuisine (book review)...


"Encyclopaedia of Polish cuisine"
by Hanna Szymanderska

Hardback (1148 pages)


As I'm Polish you would presume that Polish cuisine has no mysteries and question marks for me... but it's completely different. The reason is that Polish cuisine is complex, with a rich history, influences from Eastern Europe as well as France, Germany and, on top of that, every region of Poland has their own recipes and traditions. Me and my Hubby got this book as a wedding present and I returned to it only recently as it was our 2nd Wedding anniversary on 24t April :)

The Encyclopedia of Polish Cuisine is a source of information about Polish cooking years ago and today, it covers both haute, official cuisine and recipes from various parts of Poland. The twenty(!) chapters of the book include recipes for flavoured butters, dips, soups, flour-based dishes, egg and cheese dishes, kashas and rice, potatoes, side dishes, sauces, fish, meat, poultry, game, mushrooms, vegetables, desserts, cold and hot drinks, cakes, liqueurs and preserves. The author Hanna Szymanderska presents such well-known dishes as chicken broth or pork chops, you will also find here some long-forgotten recipes for crayfish, stewed hazel grouse, quail nests or coot in cranberry sauce but...

The book is written in an easy and understanding language but unfortunately the author uses very patronising tone - unless you're very good cook you won't achieve anything worth eating. I found mistakes in some of the recipes. As mentioned earlier the book covers lots of recipes, techniques and I think that quantity took more important role than quality. It seems that recipes were included without checking them/cooking from them at all...
Overall the book is a good summary of the Polish culinary traditions but because of mistakes in recipes I wouldn't really recommend it to someone who doesn't have any idea about Polish cooking/baking and haven't cooked anything Polish before. It's more of a 'tale' about traditions, roots of Polish cuisine rather than a good and useful compendium of recipes.

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