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Rose Petal Jam
– Recipes and Stories from a Summer in Poland
The very title ‘Rose Petal Jam’ evokes shimmering
heat-hazed visions of meadows, trees, clear sky, and perfume wafting on
a warm breeze. One could be anywhere: England on an August afternoon,
perhaps Italy when the world is quiet after lunch. But this book
concerns itself with Poland, and it is enticing.
Rose Petal Jam – Recipes and Stories from a Summer in Poland allows me
to indulge my twin passions of food and travel. It masterfully charts a
path between cookbook and travelogue, and is an illustration of how
something can grow to be more than the sum of its parts.
Beata Zatorska had penned a cookbook, but wouldn’t it have been lacking
something without those touching family stories? She has written a
charming travel book about her beloved Poland, and food has always been
central to the country, its culture and its heritage. Who could
describe Poland and not mention a few of its celebrated dishes? Beata
has achieved a balance that will enthral the home cook and have those
with itchy feet reaching for the AA Big Road Atlas (now extended
These are not just random Polish recipes. This book is an archive of
Beata’s grandmother’s dishes. She was herself a chef and passed on her
passion for food to her granddaughter. So many of the dishes included
have a story – like the stuffed eggs that Beata’s grandmother served
the anxious youngster on the day of her exams. Those exams allowed
Beata eventually to become a doctor.
The Polish kitchen makes the very best of seasonal produce. There is
nothing exotic here, but this book does present a raft of unique (to us
in the UK, at least) ideas for using fruit, vegetables and meat. There
are no extravagant ingredients. You will likely have everything you
need already in your larder or at your local grocers. It won’t be
necessary to buy ethnic kitchen gadgets imported from Warszawa.
Kisiel – Strawberry Fruit Pudding – is a good example of the style of
practical, simple and economic recipes here. Few ingredients, and not a
costly dish if one uses fruit at its summery best rather than making
this for Boxing Day with southern-hemisphere strawberries.
The British climate allows us to take full advantage of wintery dishes
for a full nine months of the year, so I have already pencilled in
Potato Dumplings to garnish a rich and flavourful Polish Beef Goulash.
This is a little different from the Hungarian version, which is
traditionally more of a soup than a stew. A tablespoon of dill is the
surprise ingredient here.
Pierogi are the Polish equivalent of ravioli and my favourites are
those filled with potatoes and cheese. They are described as Russian
Pierogi but they are ubiquitous at the Polish dinner table ...unless my
Polish friends are really Russians. Serve with melted butter and a
garnish of tangy sour cream or even crème fraîche.
We are becoming more familiar with Polish food in the UK. There are
numerous supermarkets offering Polish delicacies in jar and tin, but we
are finding more cafés and delis with shelves and counters laden
with cakes and pastries and ready-made meals. I have not yet come
across Rose Petal Jam but now I can make my own ...along with a few
bottles of pepper vodka ...and perhaps a dish of sweet Angel Wings
alongside. Buy two copies of this book: keep one on the book shelves as
a travel guide for the food lover, and leave the other, soon to be
butter-smeared, in the kitchen as a well-used cookbook and a reminder
of the reasons you will want to visit Poland.
This is a sumptuous and heart-warming book with stunning photography by
Beata’s husband, Simon Target. So this is a family food memoir that we
are invited to borrow. The memories might not be ours but a trip to
Poland will rectify that.
Cookbook review: Rose Petal Jam – Recipes and Stories from a Summer in
Author: Beata Zatorska, Photography by Simon Target
Published by: Tabula Books