I remember going to the bakery early on a Saturday morning as a child. I’d usually queue in a long line of customers, waiting for the next batch of loaves to be ready for sale. I walked home with a loaf of warm wheat sourdough; its crispy, shiny crust and tangy, fragrant flesh would tantalise me to bite off a bit. Sometimes only ¾ of the loaf would actually make it home as the temptation was too great. Commercial dough has taken over even in Poland, although the push-back gets stronger and stronger. What you buy in a supermarket in the UK is a 1952 invention – an industrial process designed to manufacture a lot of a product, quickly. “Real” bread has only four basic ingredients: flour, water, yeast, and salt; take any loaf off the shelf in Sainsbo’s and see how many ingredients you can count. There’s also no shortcut to make a good loaf, and time is needed to allow proper fermentation, which then helps to break down the gluten. I always say that those who think they are allergic to gluten should throw away their supermarket monster and try proper sourdough bread. Cheesy it might be, but good bread is like love – it requires time, patience, and good quality ingredients. It can’t be rushed, and the quickly available, cheap stuff will never taste the same. It might feed the hungry, but it won’t leave them satisfied for long.
I’m not sure if it’s me, or if pasta actually has a real stigma as something that’s difficult to make. My story with making fresh pasta is the same as when I was learning to bake sourdough bread – it seemed difficult, so I avoided it for a really long time. Unnecessarily!
I used to think there’s magic and sorcery behind making meringue. I also avoided recipes that used only the yolk, because I didn’t want to waste the white. That was until I read a few Polish bloggers’ recipes and it turned out that making meringues is the easiest thing under the sun.
I recall reading somewhere that if a chef ever tells you they’ve never used a stock cube, they are lying, and I took this as gospel, resulting in using “jellies” as a flavour enhancer or soup base. I don’t see a reason to stop doing this as not everyone has the will, time, or need to cook soup stock from scratch, spending lots of money on ready-made stock bags, or freezing stock in ice cube trays (honestly, who does that?). Alas, I started making my own stock as a soup base to find the quickest, most flavoursome and efficient way. The meat I use is organic and I encourage you to to do the same – the whole point of making stock is to get the flavour out of its ingredients, and the last thing you want is what’s in ordinary meat.
I’ve decided to start this blog after months of pondering if this is a good idea – in the end I’m just a humble home cook with no training and no Instagram account with thousands of followers. One thing I do have though is a serious passion for flavour and food.
My fondest childhood memories feature the kitchen in my grandparent’s flat. This was the centre of the household and the source of intoxicating scent of master-level seasoning and homemade pasta for Sunday chicken broth, courtesy of Grandad. Grandma was the cake baker and regional specialities expert (she was born in Poznan, my Grandad was a Varsovian). They both had their areas of expertise and worked well as a team, filling the gaps for each other.
I remember turning pages of old cookbooks and looking at photos, being curious about the dishes; browsing the recipes became one of my favourite pastimes once I learned to read.
My Grandma always made sure I tried new flavours, especially fruit – it was equally exciting for her to try new things as well as getting me to me try them and compare the notes. The only thing she would never insist on me trying was offal, because I was spectacularly sick after smelling fried liver. In some circles that probably makes me unworthy of ever claiming I enjoy food, let alone writing a food blog. Alas, here I am, a self-proclaimed food hedonist.