Reading posts about pierogi with truskawki (strawberries) or jagody (bilberries)and other delights such as fruit soups posted recently, I have been savouring the wonders of summer produce and how somehow Poles traditionally manage to make the most of it, using everything the land has to offer.
Connection to family
Seeing a plate of pierogi with czarne jagody (bilberries) and cream immediately reminds me of the heady smell of pierogi being boiled in the family home with plumes of steam rising above the pan in the heat. It’s a feeling of time standing still in childhood, with Babcia and Mama in the kitchen on hot summers that lasted forever. At my local bar mleczny in Kraków, the ladies usually fairly stern, would smile at my son last year peeping over the display cabinet asking for pierogi z truskawkami at 10am in the morning – which they only serve for lunch and softened by his request would make them specially early for him. Eating these dishes connects us to our roots like nothing else.
The simple pleasure of going into your garden and picking a few strawberries or raspberries brings us close to nature every day.
Wild strawberries grow like weeds in my back garden so there’s always a crop. It gives you the feeling of being a smallholder, however few plants you have. Or picking a punnet of strawberries yourself and bringing it home to make truskawkowa zupa (strawberry soup), gives great satisfaction. And yes, I do serve it as a first course, it’s even tastier with thin strips of makaron (pasta).
Even having a koperek (dill) plant in the garden to harvest and throw over potatoes tunes one in to age old rhythms of life in the countryside, as well as savouring that delicious fresh smell it produces when cut.
Happiness is to be found in hospitality. Being polish is all about Gość w domu, Bóg w domu (to receive a guest is to receive God) and as I had unexpected friends coming today, I needed to wheel out some cake with tea. Utterly grateful that I had frozen a small cheesecake not long ago, all I had to do was add a few strawberries with a jelly glaze and it was soon gone!
If you don’t have the time to make pierogi z jagodami this summer, there’s always a restaurant to go to or failing that, frozen ones from the Polish shop. Our Polish kitchen based on natural products is the bedrock of family get-togethers or evenings with friends. It’s a simple happiness we should all savour, particularly at this time of year.
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