Regional dishes

Our region is one of the poorest in Poland and this is reflected in the local cuisine. Very little meat used to be eaten here – it was only for the biggest holidays of the year – Easter, Christmas, weddings and so on. The staple food was buckwheat groats, rye flour, potatoes, vegetables – especially cabbage, cucumbers, horseradish and onions – as well as milk and eggs. Milk was used to make cottage cheese, butter and curd. Food was mainly eaten seasonally – according to the rhythm of nature.

Boiled dumplings are typical of our region. They are made from a dough which is filled with a variety of fillings: potato and cottage cheese with onion, buckwheat with cheese, or fruit stuffing (from forest berries or strawberries). Nowadays, dumplings with meat or spinach filling are also popular. Once the dumplings are prepared, they are cooked in batches in salted water.

Many traditional products can be found in bakeries in our area. Baked dumplings are popular. The stuffing here can also be buckwheat groats with cheese, but also cabbage with mushrooms, meat or lentils1. Another popular regional pastry is cebularz – yeast cakes baked with onions and poppy seeds. A less popular but very good bakery product is kaszak – baked in a bread tin, made of buckwheat groats and potatoes, strongly seasoned with pepper.

Traditional dinners were very simple in our house. We often had a soup and a second course. On Sundays, broth was cooked – a stock made of meat (usually poultry) and vegetables, on which another soup was cooked the next day. On the following days of the week, soup was usually cooked without meat. Soups were named according to the dominant vegetable: tomato soup, cucumber soup (made from pickled cucumbers), pumpkin soup, broccoli soup, cauliflower soup, cabbage soup, vegetable soup (made from various vegetables). Typical soups include borscht: red borscht (beetroot soup), Ukrainian borscht (beetroot soup with cabbage and beans), white borscht (wheat sourdough soup) and sour rye soup (sour rye soup). Second courses included buckwheat groats with cream, potatoes with soured milk, cabbage with peas or mushrooms. Also popular were scones, which were pancakes baked directly on the cooker top and eaten with butter and garlic. More demanding dishes were prepared for larger occasions. Typical here is bigos, based on cabbage, mushrooms and various types of meat, or stuffed cabbage rolls – a stuffing of rice and minced meat wrapped in cabbage leaves, in tomato sauce. Compotes – decoctions of seasonal fruit – were prepared daily for drinking in the summer.

Processing was an important part of the cuisine. It was a way of preserving food for the winter. Every home prepared jams and juices from local fruit – apples, pears, plums, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, gooseberries, currants. Vegetables were also pickled – especially cabbage (with the addition of carrots) and cucumbers. Peppers and mushrooms were sealed in jars with vinegar pickle. Grated horseradish and ćwikła (horseradish mixed with beetroot) were also prepared. An important part of processing was tinctures – fruit or herbal alcoholic beverages, mainly used for medicinal purposes. To this day, many homes still make traditional preserves, as local people consider them to be much better than those bought in shops.

1M. Jaszak, R. Mazurek, Kulinarne wędrówki, Lubelskie smaki życia, Lublin, 2017