Years ago one of my colleagues had a book about Eastern European cookery in which it stated that at one time the Poles were the biggest meat eaters in Europe.
I have tried to find this publication for this reference but to no avail.
I looked up figures for meat consumption in Europe per capita and figures for the early 21st century have Luxenbourg, Spain & Austria in the top three.
Surprisingly for a nation of supposed meat lovers, a common surnames is Jarosz and Jaroszewicz and other variations on this which comes from the word jarosz which means vegetarian. We had several family friends with this surname.
If you hear the word meat in Poland, then think pork, that is the nation’s favourite, be it fresh pork or changed into the wide variety of sausages and smoked meats. I think pork will always take top place in a meal at a Polish special occasion.
In communist times, I visited my mother’s sister who had a small farm and kept pigs and made her own sausages, smoking them in a special smoking unit which was in the attic of the house; they were delicious.
On a more recent trip to other relatives in a large town, I learnt that they had put in a special order for smoked sausages and meats from a lady in a nearby village when they knew I was coming and these were far superior to what was available from the shops.
In the past, cattle were mainly kept for milk, cream, butter and cheese and any beef recipes would be for dishes that require long slow cooking. In recent times dishes are appearing in restaurants and magazines which feature cuts such as sirloin steak.
Sheep were mainly kept for wool and in the mountain regions in the South of Poland for their milk for making cheese.
There are many recipes for wild boar, venison, rabbit or hare in regional cookery.
Goose, duck and chicken are often eaten – of course a village chicken is always preferred if possible.
This post is an introduction to th meat dishes that I will be posting in the future – although I have posted a few already
Gołąbki – Cabbage rolls