“History and authenticity”. Jakubiak, Szklarek, Minta, and Chodorowski on culinary treasures of Pomorskie region
– Pomorskie is rich in local products that have not been used yet. The region has enormous potential – says Tomasz Jakubiak, host of the popular TV show “Jakubiak lokalnie” , airing on Kuchnia+.
What local products are among Poles’ favourites? How does Pomorskie region stand on the culinary map of Poland? What else should we do to gain even more recognition? We spoke to Tomasz Jakubiak, Jacek Szklarek – President of Slow Food Polska, Dorota Minta – a psychologist and culinary passionate, a Tricity-based restaurateur – Maurycy Chodorowski, and Krzysztof Dudkiewicz from Kuchnia+.
Ewelina Potocka: What do culinary experts have in their minds when they think of Pomorskie?
Maurycy Chodorowski: Without doubt, access to both freshwater, and saltwater fish. Most of my family who come here from other parts of Poland dream of me taking them to the fish market in Gdynia. They want to look at and taste the fish. For them, fresh herring, or flounder are a rarity, whereas for us they are nothing out of ordinary. And they do not need much: it is the freshness that counts.
Dorota Minta: I must admit to having discovered an entirely different culinary part of the region a couple of years ago. Fish, of course, are obvious. Baltic Sea herring can easily compete with southern-European sardines, for example. I was enchanted by rutabaga a few years ago, which I hadn’t previously known at all. I spent several days in Kociewie, and things that are prepared from rutabaga, in a new way, are definitely the case of something yet to be discovered.
Tomasz Jakubiak: There is also the Kashubian Strawberry, with extremely late harvesting period; it can be harvested even in autumn. What is more, there are plenty of goat cheeses, goose and duck meats. Contrary to popular belief, which is that goose and duck are eaten only in the Greater Poland (Wielkopolska) region. Travelling farther into the voivodeship, you will encounter many still undiscovered local products. There is plenty that many gourmets will find surprising.
Krzysztof Dutkiewicz: Pomorskie is also associated with high-quality meat. Beef, game…
Tomasz Jakubiak: Beef from Pomorskie is one of the best in the world.
Ewelina Potocka: Since the topic of strawberries popped in, what are the unusual ways to use them?
Dorota Minta: Today, I served strawberry with groats, smoked trout, and strawberry salsa with mint, red pepper, and chili. Strawberry forms a truly harmonious combination with fish.
Tomasz Jakubiak: Strawberry is an excellent siding to any type of dish, be it savory, sweet, or salty. And, it can be served in many ways. It is going to have completely different characteristic, when sea salt is added to it, and different when combined with honey or balsamic vinegar. It is a product we can play with in the kitchen, creating for example both fish and meat sauces. Speaking of fish: strawberry with black pepper, fried on caramel with lime, mint, and a bit of balsamic vinegar, or fried with coffee beans, braised in rum, combines well with cod or Baltic Sea salmon.
Maurycy Chodorowski: In our restaurant in Sopot, we serve an interesting dessert that has become popular among our guests: wine-braised Kashubian Strawberries fried on butter, with green pepper and a spon of sweet cream. It is a family recipe, and it is definitely a winner.
Ewelina Potocka: Pomorskie is a region rich in various products. What can we be proud of? What else is there to discover?
Jacek Szklarek: There are plenty of such products. Buckwheat, for instance, is commonly found on Kashubian farms. As well as different kinds of potatoes. But what should definitely be the apple in the region’s eye, are fish. These products have already been identified, but we often stumble upon lack of communication between producers and restaurateurs. There is no connection with local businesses.
Tomasz Jakubiak: But this is a result of immaturity of many Polish restaurateurs. They want to make as much money as possible, as fast as possible, taking the path of least resistance. After all, it is easier to order deep-frozen fish.
Dorota Minta: Consumer education is equally important. You cannot have a flounder after a storm, as it cannot be caught. Such basic knowledge has to be introduced in a young age. It is a good idea to tell local people about local products, in the end it is them who will be encouraging tourists to try them out. I wonder how many kindergarten, school, or factory canteens offer traditional regional meals, preferably with a commentary?
Jacek Szklarek: There are plenty of fish that need a story built around them, such as Baltic Sea herring, to show that they are unique. It is a well-known fact that they are not everyday fish. History, authenticity is what matters.
Most of the region is completely unknown. Western Kashubia, with Bytów, Miastko, and, north, Słupsk is a territory rich in forest fruit, including animals. There are also deeply-rooted customs that come from the German times, including forester schools, etc.
Tomasz Jakubiak: Strength lies in the voivodeship. People are required that will promote all this decisively, regardless of any obstacles. These have to be authentic people from the region that will spread the products further.
Ewelina Potocka: Pomorze has also great culinary history that cannot be omitted…
Tomasz Jakubiak: Certainly. Pomorskie is rich in products that have still been unused, and the region’s potential is almost unlimited. Just observe, how popular it has become among Scandinavian people. They are tourists that leave here large amounts of money, with pleasure. We need to competently take advantage of it, in a good way. There is much to do in terms of culinary matters. Have you already eaten Kashubian chips? They are smashed cod heads without eyes or guts, dipped in flour, and deep-fried. It may sound scary, but it is a brilliant idea for fresh cod heads.
Dorota Minta: Remember that food in Pomorskie does not finish with the end of summer. Promoting the low season is equally important.
Ewelina Potocka: Since you have mentioned low season, what local products would you recommend in autumn?
Tomasz Jakubiak: Rutabaga, goose and duck meat, but also Pomeranian sheep, which has not entirely been discovered yet. Also, freshwater fish just before the protection period. These fish are plenty in Kashubia.
Jacek Szklarek: Also, grouts and forest fruit. There are around 10,000 Pomeranian sheep in the region, I believe that it is the second largest center of sheep in Poland, right after Podhale.
Dorota Minta: For me, these are mainly mushrooms and root vegetables. It is also definitely time for meat, and Pomorskie is famous for its exquisite beef, game, and best goose meat at this time of year. I am a fan of goose meat in any form. From whole roasted geese, to fantastic, long-maturing goose breasts, and, of course, pates. Aromatic broth with goose-stuffed dumplings with thyme are a must during late-autumn dinners. Autumn is also the time of preserves: jams, marmalade, and pickles. I also associate autumn with liqueurs, and Pomorskie with raspberry, strawberry, and elderberry flower liqueurs. They are a perfect addition to long, autumn evenings.
Ewelina Potocka: Thank you very much for your time. To sum up, Pomorskie has an enormous product potential, with many undiscovered possibilities still ahead. This gives a unique opportunity to continuously surprise culinary tourists, and in consequence to making them return to the region repeatedly.