Romaine lettuce is one of the oldest kinds of lettuce, it is over five thousand years old. It is also called the Egyptian lettuce or Romaine lettuce. In English it is called Cos lettuce. Cos, because of the Cos region in Greece. Romaine lettuce is the best for preparing Caesar salad. In English it is called Romaine lettuce, in French – laitue. It is made hot, with boiling water, and orange juice and orange peels, and it can stay in the garden for 70 days, so its structure is crisp. And this is all that I can say about Romaine lettuce.
Here we can see two bottles of milk. One of them was bought a long time ago. Milk stored in an inappropriate temperature has gone off. Firstly, it became sour, and then the process has continued. Probably, in fresh milk there are different kinds of bacteria, there are fermentation bacteria, but also bacteria that spoil the milk which come from our stomach, or from cow’s udder or from the dirt on the milker’s hands. So, fresh milk is contaminated and it has to be pasteurised in a dairy. It is pasteurised for safety, so that unwanted bacteria or pathogens are destroyed. So into such clean milk we introduce bacteria that will make it sour. I am not saying that it is impossible to produce good sour milk from fresh raw milk. If proper hygienic conditions are kept, the fermentation bacteria that are in milk, in cow’s surroundings and in its udders, that are always there, they can make milk sour. But keeping milk in such conditions as here, in hot temperature, will always spoil it. So, the process of fermentation was used by people for thousands of years, and most probably it was the first product that was conserved in a natural way. When milk was not drunk, and it was left in a dish or in some leather skin, it became sour. And people noticed that such sour milk can be drunk, or if it is left even longer, cottage cheese can be made by straining it from whey. Because large-scale industrial production demands keeping proper hygienic conditions, milk is pasteurised and only then clean bacteria are introduced into it. Pasteurisation destroys some of the bacteria, but the vitamins are preserved. Fermented milk drinks are very healthy. Pro-biotic values are often talked about, but actually all the fermentation bacteria affect human health in a very positive way. So they should be drunk very often.
The king between them is kephir. In old times kephir was produced from kephir grains and from fresh milk. It was stored in wooden barrels, or in clay containers, or leather sacks. Fresh milk was poured there, it got sour, then it was drained and fresh milk was poured. After some time, a layer of different bacteria was formed on the inside surface. These bacteria formed kephir grains. People learned how to drain these grains and pour fresh milk over them and to produce a healthy drink. Recently, kephir has become highly appreciated in the world. Many researchers form Argentina, from the United States, from Northern America, especially Canada, examine these probiotic values. Experiments were conducted on mice which had cancer cells in them. And after feeding these mice with kephir grains, these cells stopped dividing. Of course twenty years ago in Poland and in the countries of the former Soviet Union, kephir was very popular and it was produced from grains. Nowadays, the demands of fast industrial production enforce fast and easy production, so the grains are not used anymore. Now bacteria cultures are used, they are produced from the grains, and some more bacteria are added. Kephir is made by adding to the pasteurised milk these bacteria cultures. However, scientific research proves that the best kephir is produced from kephir grains. I will show them to you. Fresh milk is poured over the grains and it curdles. This is rather fresh so it hasn’t curdled much yet. Now we drain this sour milk and we pour fresh milk over the grains. And this drained sour milk is used to produce kephir.
And such kephir should be promoted. Producers should be persuaded not to be afraid of such bacteria cultures. Because it is quite easy to get like that. In the beginning of my career, I worked in a dairy and this is what I dealt with. It doesn’t involve much work and the healthy properties of such kephir are much greater than of the variety produced from cultures. Because the further from the grains, the less properties. Because bacteria produce not only milk acid that causes milk to get sour, but they also produce substances that stop the development of pathogens. We eat kephir and it kills the bacteria that cause the development of intestine cancer, which is a very common disease. And kephir grains produce both the acetaldehyde and hydrogen peroxide, and different acids – acetic acid with works together with lactic acid in a synergic way. And they stop the development of the unwanted bacteria and that’s why it is a very healthy drink. Yeast that is in the grains, together with milk streptococcus, produce vitamin B. Besides, some people lack substances that decompose lactic acid and they may have diarrhoea. But when they drink kephir nothing like this happens, because kephir has special enzymes which help digest milk sugar. Besides, bacteria produce polysaccharides which work against cancer. The problem is that, apart from lactic acid, kephir produces alcoholic acid – there’s lot of carbon dioxide, so the plastic container will get swollen, which is the problem for producers. Some time ago there was only 1-day, or 2 or 3-day kephir produced. After three days, new kephir had to be made, it was never produced for longer than that. Now supermarkets want their products to be long-lasting, to last for two or three weeks. I think that the future lies in promoting such a traditional product. And consumers should be encouraged to drink this sort of traditional drinks.
I associate potatoes mostly with Aleksandra from Silesia, firstly because it is Queen Bona, and it was Gueen Bona who brought potatoes to Poland. I myself am from Silesia, and potatoes in Silesia are something, maybe not exactly essential, but definitely important, in “żurek” (rye soup) which is enriched this way and it almost becomes a “zalewajka” (potato soup with rye flour).
What else? I associate potatoes with potato beetle and with my first money earned by collecting a whole jar of potato beetles. I was maybe six years old then, and I bought a waffle for it. I had promised myself that if I earned some money, I would spend it on waffles. Then it turned out that you have to buy and serve vodka when you get your first salary, and I forgot about waffles. So, that’s all about potatoes.
This is a different nut. It is called the Turkish hazel. Its fruit tastes similar to our hazel nuts. It is a tree which has similar leaves, but the Turkish hazel has a structure of a real tree, it is not a big bush but it can grow very high, like a hornbeam for example. Maybe even these nuts preserved on this stick come from this species, I don’t know exactly, it is a Caucasian species, so maybe it is not the Turkish hazel, maybe something else.
The sunflower belongs to the family of ‘complex’. As the name itself suggests, its flowers are made of many smaller flowers. Here are sunflowers which haven’t yet bloomed, that is why I will use a different species from the same family. It is made of two different kinds of flowers. In the outer part, there are tongue-like flowers which look a bit like petals. And there are tube-like flowers inside. These are the ones which produce fruit called achenes. The seed is inside of them. They are very popular in eastern Europe, and in eastern Poland one can also buy something like this. In the rest of the country, roasted seeds are not used that often. If we go to Przemyśl, Białystok or Suwałki we can meet people who husk the seeds often without the use of fingers and leave the shells somewhere near. The sunflower comes from North America and in the 16th century probably it was brought from Mexico to Spain and from there it was spread all around Europe. It made the greatest career in Russia, and there, in the 19th century, some new species were created in order to obtain sunflower oil. In the end of the 19th century, these varieties were so popular that they even got as far as the United States. Also halva is made from the seeds in Russia, Byelorussia and the Ukraine, but it rarely can be found in Poland. Only once have I managed to find it in Poland, which I very much regret.
This is cow’s milk, a product which is basic for people in the country, it is a protein-rich product and as we know protein is crucial for living. We sell milk in this form, we have an ecological farm. Milk has an ecological certificate. Traditionally, for hundreds of years milk was like this, it was ecological because no fertilisers or insecticides were used. Now, it is something extraordinary. Here we can see milk which was kept unpasteurised, in inconvenient conditions, the bottle was closed and the souring milk made it break. But we can see that good cottage cheese could be made of it, it looks nice and has a nice smell. Our cottage cheese looks like this. Should I say something about the cheese? Because actually there is not much that can be said about milk. Well, milk is a basic product, it is a starting point for all other dairy products. Some time ago, when the whole village lived on milk, the excess produced in the summer had to feed people in the winter. So people produced different kinds of cottage cheese, cottage cheese was an old tradition. It was pressed, salted and dried. In the winter, it was the main source of protein for people in the country. Also cream and butter are produced from milk. When butter is made, the product which is left is called buttermilk, a source of protein and fats. It is popular now and it has been popular for ages. And, after the cottage cheese is drained, what is left is called ‘whey’. It may be added to soups, or used as a refreshing drink. It contains lots of mineral salts. There are different ways of producing it. The old tradition was that rennet from calf’s stomach was used to make sweet milk curdle to produce cheese like ‘oscypek’ in this region, which was salted and smoked and could be kept in winter to be a source of protein for people.
We make such shish-kebabs in our own way; it is the ‘Polish school’. It is not always made on a spit, it may be made on a big round stick. I usually make it on a stick. It consists of pork meat, ham, bacon and onion. Different marinades are made, everyone makes it in a different way, depending on one’s preferences. We don’t use cucumber or paprika, because we prepare them once a day, so a product containing vegetables would not last for a few hours. And it wouldn’t look nice either. The recipe? Most of all, you have to be honest, everything must be fresh, it shouldn’t be left for next day, everything should be made once a day. It should be made in such quantity as to be enough for one day. Nothing more. Every recipe has to be honest, be it bread or meat. What more can I say? Come and try it for yourself! I don’t have anything ready now, so I cannot show you any.
Mushrooms, dried mushrooms… They smell wonderful, the big ones. Mushrooms are magical food, something in-between the animal world and the plant world. I remember from school that mushrooms can reproduce in two different ways, one of them is typical for plants, and the other for animals. I am not trying to say that mushrooms are animals, but there is something in it. I love going to the forest to pick mushrooms. I think this is typical of our culture, of the culture of this part of Europe, East-Central Europe. There are really many people who know a lot about mushrooms and who pick several or even several dozen kinds of edible mushrooms, because, as we know, there are edible, inedible and poisonous mushrooms. There are also hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Mushrooms require some knowledge. I have noticed that, in Western Europe, you don’t pick mushrooms, but, rather, you buy them. But there are only a few basic kinds: boletuses, chanterelles, morels and truffles, which are not to be found in Poland. Some of these mushrooms are dried, and some are not, that is to say that, for example, chanterelles are not really suitable for drying, although the English dry them, but they do not produce a spectacular effect in cooking. Boletuses are the best for this purpose. I do not even mention truffles, truffles are really a great treasure for a cook and for a connoisseur.
It is magical food, for a few reasons, because of this being in-between life and death, because some are poisonous. In our culture, mushrooms are the main ingredient of many festive dishes, especially at Christmas, when a part of the ritual is initiating contact with the dead, and the mushrooms are to symbolize this border between the two worlds. It is interesting that we have so many dishes which have mushrooms as their main component, or in which they are an important ingredient, especially dried mushrooms. However, nutritional value of mushrooms is very low, only a few minerals. And it cannot be said that eating mushrooms is healthy, it is maybe even unhealthy. And maybe it is because of their beauty, that we eat them disinterestedly. Or maybe I am not fair in saying that, because, of course, when there is hunger and people eat what they can find, then mushrooms save their lives. However, their nutritious value is actually low. But we eat them gladly on regular basis because of their wonderful taste. What more can be said about mushrooms? I think that maybe this is enough.
We would like to say something about limes. Limes are green or yellow, when they are lemons. They can be used for different dishes. Lemons are usually used to make a lemon drink, and limes – for cooking, for example, Thai dishes. Here we have an interesting lime leaf which tastes really good in some dishes, for example, in a Thai curry. What’s interesting, leaves of lime impart a lemon aroma, a lemon taste, but they are not sour. This is their advantage over the standard lemon which we associate with squeezing it into our tea. There is also lemon grass, which we can also add to a Thai dish. It is usually chopped and broken in parts and it also produces a nice aroma. It is similar to lemon because it has a similar taste, and smell, especially when it is broken, but actually it has nothing to do with lemon itself. So, we would like to encourage you to use lime, leaves of lime and lemon grass.
This is a pear brought from far away. It is not fresh, or – more precisely – it is fermented. Fermented pears are not tasty, but fresh pears are very tasty, especially when they are peeled with a knife, or boiled in compote, but pears taste best when they are distilled, because the best thing that we can get from pears is alcohol, which in Czech, is called gruszkovica, in Croatian – gruszkovica, in Slovenian and Slovak – gruszkovica, in Hungarian – kerten palinka, and in German -Birnen Schnabs. And the best Schnabs, palinka and gruszkowica are made from Williams pears, but this is not a Williams pear.
The broom that you can see here has two dimensions. From the functional point of view, it is a self-referential sign. Broom is for sweeping, which means it is for the purpose of cleaning surfaces. But the same broom when put into different contexts, like a symbolic context, will have some deeper meaning. So, firstly broom can be viewed in a magical context, or in terms of outlook on life. As far as magical context is concerned, broom helps to clean the place from evil powers, evil objects. In symbolic terms, it may even act as a substitute for a woman. There is a ritual, a part of the wedding ceremony where the best man, or even the groom, dances with a broom instead of dancing with the bride. It is a custom in Poland, and I think in other countries too, that before the ceremony called ‘oczepiny’, a rite of passage when the bride is given to the groom, there is an attempt to sell a kind of false bride. And this false bride is an effigy, or a disguised man, or a broom dressed in fine clothes. In terms of what it’s like, a broom is an attribute of creatures out of this world, namely witches and devils. In rituals, especially winter rituals characteristic for old Polish tradition when groups of carol singers went from village to village, a broom was always an attribute of a peasant woman or of the Death, or even of the Devil. So the broom is always carried by a creature out of this world. However, the real meaning of a broom always depends on the context it appears in.
The lemon is a citrus fruit. It belongs to a family of fruit associated in Poland with the Mediterranean region. However, all citrus fruit comes from the South East Asia. The lemon comes from China, probably from some region at the base of Himalayas and it travelled to Europe, like most citrus fruit, with the Arabian merchants in 11th century. A citrus fruit which came earlier than lemons, oranges or any others, was a citron, which is almost unknown in Poland. So, ancient Romans did not know lemons, but they can already be found in some mediaeval records. The lemon belongs to the rutaceae family. In Poland, there grows rue which is the major representative of this family. Its fruit is a very characteristic berry which is divided into parts. There are as many parts as there are elements which form a pistil. Here you can see what is left after the pistil has gone, and this swollen part which is called an ovary, where the most important event takes place – that is the development of seeds. Citruses can often have fruit without seeds, they can do perfectly without them. What is happening inside when a lemon is growing, is that small hair grows from the outer part and slowly fills with juice, and becomes club-like, and fits tight to one another. They are the parts that we eat in oranges or mandarins and which we don’t usually separate when we eat lemons. What can be said about the lemon is that its origin is unknown, I mean there is no antecedent of lemon which grows wild. Maybe it is, like many other citrus fruit, a cross-breed of two different species.
In the beginning when potatoes were imported to Europe, people didn’t know how to grow them or how to eat them. They were green, and right after they were planted, those green bulbs were taken out. They were bitter and immature. People learnt from the Native Americans, they observed how they grew potatoes. More often potato flowers, rather than bulbs, were served on the tables of the rich because of their nice colour. Later on, when people learnt how to plant and grow potatoes, they became popular. The potato, as a bulb, has many kinds. There is sweet potato, there is ordinary potato, red, white, yellow, it depends on the colour of the bulb and flower, and on the soil. Nowadays, there are lots of cross-breeds, there were less some time ago. Now there are many species created artificially. The most influential country as far as potatoes are concerned is Belgium, the home land of famous fries. Fries are very popular in Belgium and in the whole world. But ot was the Belgians who invented them. In Poland, potatoes became popular in the 18th century when people began to grow them and create new recipes: in Podlachia, there were cepelins, in Greater Poland, there were potato dumplings, in Silesia, there were Silesian potato dumplings which are very popular, and as for these dumplings, they appear at big family celebrations, weddings, christening parties or holidays. Apart from these, the potato sausage and potato cake are also popular in Poland. Poles are masters at baking potato cakes. And it is one of the most popular dishes in our country now. Potatoes are prepared in as many ways as there are people. They are prepared sweet, sour or salty, depending on one’s needs. Also potato pancakes are made from them. Potato pancakes are especially popular in Bavaria, Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. Also cakes and dumplings of different kinds are popular there.
I remember that some twenty years ago the temperature in Florence went down to -25 degrees. And besides the fact that it was absolutely abnormal in Tuscany and such temperature has not been recorded for many years, it caused enormous damage to trees. Olive groves suffered especially. It was a macabre, the groves looked as if they were covered with a black veil. The frost burnt the leaves on the trees. I was absolutely depressed about it, but my father just looked on and said, ‘We will wait till spring. You’ll see, they branch off from the trunk.’ It was difficult to believe him then. But he was right, after all. Very slowly at first and then a bit faster, when the spring came, the trees began to sprout new branches, and it was from the bottom, from the trunk. ‘You see’, my dad said, ‘it is a sign that life is always stronger than death and that you have to have hope.’ And every time when I look at an olive tree, I can remember his words. I could give up many things in my life, especially as far as food is concerned, but olive oil is one of the basic items of my culinary existence. I couldn’t live without oil, I mean I couldn’t live well without it. It is my personal ritual. When I come back to Tuscany, I take a big slice of Tuscan bread and I soak it in oil. This is the way I celebrate who I am, where I come from. Because this oil that I eat is also a part of my blood. I would say that in Italian people’s veins, or people from the Mediterranean countries, there is oil rather than blood. That is why we, people from these countries, worship oil trees. And I guess we shouldn’t forget that for thousands of years they have been a symbol of peace between Heaven and Earth. It is also very important, I think.
Boletus can be found under such trees as the one I am sitting under. Boletus are Glomeromycota mushrooms, which means that they are connected with some trees by means of symbiosis. So, for example, boletuses that are sold by the roads, or which are dried like this one, we can find under oaks or beeches or other broadleaved trees. However, some species of boletus can be found under coniferous trees, like this spruce nearby, or under pines. Boletuses belong to the Boletaceae family, their characteristic feature is a hymenophore on the bottom side of the cap, it is the part which produces spores and which has a form of many tubes. It is often said that hymenophore is sponge-like, but it is not correct to say so. Boletuses are the most popular mushrooms in Poland, and not only in Poland. They are also popular in many other countries, like all the Slavonic countries. But it should be remembered, and everybody knows that, that apart form boletuses we eat also other symbiotic mushrooms, like porcini mushrooms, birch boletes, or even saffron milk caps which often appear in Polish sayings. Mushrooms were always considered stodgy, but it occurs that they have lots of nutritious substances. The protein content in such a mushroom like this is almost 50%, it is really a lot. Besides mushrooms contain lots of amino acids which has a very positive effect on people, which hasn’t been appreciated yet. However, most of people know that mushrooms are rich in vitamins, easily assimilable vitamins. People are usually concerned with high amount of chitin in mushrooms. It is true – chitin is very stodgy, or even totally indigestible, however people eat vegetables and they also contain indigestible carbohydrates such as cellulose, and despite this fact we appreciate cellulose for its dietary values. I think the same can be said about mushrooms. Not many people know that mushrooms contain biologically active substances, which affect human organism in a positive way. These are for example antibiotics and other substances. These features of mushrooms are examined in pharmacies, also in Krakow.
Mushrooms are dried in different ways. Usually they are cut into pieces which are threaded onto a string. These mushrooms however have been dried in a different way, the cap and the stem have been dried separately. This part is a cap, and this part is a stem. At the bottom part of the cap there is the most important part where the spores are produced. The mushroom spreads thanks to them. This part is called hymenophore, and as I said boletuses have a tube-like hymenophore. However, different mushrooms have different kinds of hymenophores, for example plate-like, or maze-like, or spiny. As I said, this part of mushroom is most important because spores are produced here, however people usually associate mushrooms with this part, this is a fungal fruiting body. And mushroom’s most important part is hidden underground. It is called mycelium. It is responsible for producing mushrooms and this sort of fruiting body.
We are in front of a tree, a kind of tree that bore fruit which transformed into something like this. It looks like a sausage, but actually it is a well-conserved interior of a walnut. Walnuts are cultivated in Poland, they rarely grow wild, and they come from Asia Minor, or from the Middle East. The name of the walnut in Polish – the Italian nut – is a bit misleading. It should actually be the Walachian nut, because it came to Poland from the Balkans, from Walachia. And the Polish name for ‘the Walachian’ (‘wołoski’) was shortened to ‘włoski’, which means Italian. So the walnut is not from Italy but from Walachia. And it is very popular in the Balkans, in Asia Minor, in the Caucasian region, in the Middle East, and in Central Asia. It is a wonderful product, I think it is one of the plants of the future, which means that it is a plant we don’t have to sow every year, but if we have a plantation that resembles a real forest, we can pick nuts every year, with almost no effort involved. Nuts can be stored for a few years, so they can be kept as a kind of a safety reserve in case of sudden hunger or other catastrophe. It is not the only edible kind of nut, actually all other species are edible also, for example in North America there is the black nut, and in Asia there is the Manchurian nut. There are really quite a few of them. Apart from the nuts, there are other plants which belong to the family of Juglandaceae. There is hickory, which includes pecan nuts, most of them are also edible. And finally, hazelnuts which are totally unrelated, which belong to the family of hazels, corylus avellana.
I guess this is the subject known the least in every part of the world. Everywhere people eat shrimps but they know nothing about them, they don’t even know what a shrimp is. A shrimp is not a taste of its tail, it is a taste of its head, or rather the lack of it, its head. Being in Spain, and especially in the Balearic Islands, I had a chance to eat freshly caught shrimps, huge red Balearic shrimps. And it looks awful when its head is being ripped off and an awful brown sticky substance flows out, and actually only really determined people who want to get to the very source of this taste, are able to understand and appreciate how wonderful this taste is. And without this taste, all of these dishes are not the same any more, because almost all Mediterranean dishes take their real taste from shrimps’ heads. People have no idea about this, they ignore the heads, or throw them away and eat the shrimp without any awareness of its wonderful taste. My favourite shrimp is a Caribbean shrimp which is 25 or 30 cm long. It’s bright red, and it is the most beautiful sea creature I have ever seen. They have enormous heads, almost half of the length of their body. And eating this head is the greatest aphrodisiac in the world, and in my book I write that if somebody wants to be desired they should eat such a shrimp and give it to a person they love the most. And the taste of it is absolutely divine. Rice cooked in the stock made of these heads is amber or ruby in colour.
My friend Nina does this rice, and once my boyfriend, me and our friends cried from emotion when eating it, wondering how something can be so absolutely delicious. My first contact with a shrimp was in Cuba. American shrimps I ate there were delicious, with a pink sauce and cognac and ketchup, very tasty. My biggest surprise connected with shrimps was in Canada where shrimps are served with horseradish, cranberry and ketchup. It was a surprise that shrimps can be served this way. However, those shrimps had no taste, because food in Canada usually has no taste, except for meat which is very tasty, and except for lobsters which are huge, and shrimps are also huge in Canada. Another surprise were the shrimps in Poland which also have no taste, and they are from Vietnam and aren’t very healthy. As far as the real taste is concerned the only tasty sea-food I have eaten was from the Spanish Galicia, from the Basque country and from the Balearics. And to eat it is what I would like to wish everyone who wants to experience the taste of a real delicious shrimp.
These bushes are strawberry bushes. Strawberries belong to the family of rosaceae, they bloom this way, I guess everybody knows what flowers of strawberries or wild strawberries look like. The flower has a great number of both stamens and pistils. Every pistil forms a separate fruit, the type of fruit strawberry has is a nut, I will explain, taking as an example wild strawberry. All that is here, these small nuts, are fruit. However, the part that we eat, these fleshy parts, are grown flower bottoms. So, it is hard to say that it is a fruit; it is a composite fruit, or an aggregate fruit. The strawberry does not grow wild because it is a cross-breed of two different species. It was cross-bred in Europe, although the strawberry’s ancestors come from America. One variety, fragaria virginiana, grows in the eastern part of North America, and the second one, fragaria chiloensis, which is less aromatic, not so red, however a little bigger, grows in the western part by the Pacific Ocean, and in Middle and South America. They were brought to Europe in the beginning of the 17th century, this was fragaria virginiana, and fragaria chiloensis in the 18th century. And then after the two were crossbred, the real strawberry was born, fragaria ananassa. It was probably created in France in the middle of the 18th century, but they were deliberately crossbred in England, which was the country of origin of the strawberries that were later made popular in Europe. Strawberries have a few varieties depending on the way they bear fruit. Some of them bear fruit only once, they are called plant of a ‘short day’ which means that if a day is short enough it stimulates them to bloom. They bear fruit only once, in Poland it is this very ‘strawberry’ time at the end of June. There are also some that bear fruit a few times, they react to the length of the day in a different way. They start to bloom when the day is long enough and they bear fruit also in the autumn. And finally, there is the third type which blooms all the time and the length of the day does not matter.
So, the history of this kind of screens I sell started with such screens that are packed here. One day, as I was looking from the window of my flat at the cars standing at the car park, I noticed that everyone who got there had to scrape the ice off the car before starting it. So I thought that these people should be helped, so I designed such a shield to be put on the outside of the car, which is spread between the car’s wing mirrors and pulled inside by means of elastic bands, it is spread over the windscreen on some tubes so that it doesn’t freeze up to it. It the meantime the screen was patented in the patent office and it was sold. But when I launched a web-page and started to sell them via Internet, I received many calls from people asking whether I had such screens for summer. When the first person called I said I did not have such screens, and when the second, and the third, and the fourth called, I said the same. But when the fifth person called, I did not say so. I simply got interested in what such screens are made of, with what kind of machines I should equip my company, and how such screens could be produced. So I designed such a screen from specially processed cardboard. This is made of two cardboards glued together, one is corrugated, they are shaped to cover the whole inside of a car. It is put inside on the cockpit. The top part is fastened by two solar shields which are in every car. And this helps to protect the car from sunshine, because when we leave a car for a whole day in a sunny place, the temperature inside can even reach 50 degrees. When there is air-conditioning there is no problem, but if there is none, doors have to be opened to cool it down. At present we cooperate only with advertising agencies which send us some graphics. Graphics are printed on cardboard and this cardboard is glued to corrugated cardboard, then it is cut and folded so that, when it is put somewhere in the car, it does not unfold, it is a box like this. Of course, in Poland, it is not as hot as in Italy, in Cyprus or in Turkey, where such screens are in every car. In Poland, the climate is changing so maybe someday such screens will be in every car. I will be trying to meet all the orders.
My name is Robert Sowa, I am the head chef in this restaurant in hotel Sobieski, I belong to the Polish Association of Head Chefs. But most of all I am an ambassador of Norwegian products in Poland. I love fish, I love all that is done to promote healthy food, because it is crucial for Polish society, for Europe and the whole world. These are times when people have problems with overweight, children are fat. Promoting fish, both freshwater and sea fish, is very important for healthy living. The fish we can see here is dried. In Poland, the pike is eaten warm, cold, or it is smoked. Many different dishes are made from it. Maybe dried fish is not as popular in Poland as in Norway, and all around Scandinavia. A great soup is made with that. I had the pleasure of trying dried fish crisps in bars and pubs, served with beer or wine, and I think they are delicious, and definitely they are much healthier that traditional potato crisps. I have been co-operating with Norwegians for five years and I know how high the intake of Norwegian salmon, and herring, and shrimps, and cod is in Poland. It is increasing steadily and I am very happy about it. More and more children and young people eat fish, it is very important. The way of thinking about fish is changing, the approach to traditional dinner and supper is changing. Leaving aside the amount of Omega 3 fats which fish contains which is very healthy, eating great amount of fish is our success, not only our national, or family success, but also a professional success because, as we know, if we feel well and look good, we have more chances to find an interesting job. Dried fish we can see here is a great addition to salads, to stews, which are fashionable now, and a great addition to soups. Now we make a cream soup from fresh asparagus, it tastes great with dried fish crisps. It is tasty, it is aromatic, and what’s most important it is healthy. Ladies and gentleman, let’s eat fish not only as fillets, or roasted or fried, but also dried.
I always associate the Church with people, people who work there, or just people who come there to pray. When I saw this little chapel brought from Georgia, I thought about people, the Church as a community. As I am a priest who works with young people who are full of joy and enthusiasm, my first association is that the Church is a family, people brought together by Jesus Christ. But the Church is also a gathering, gatherings of young people, of old people. The Church gives satisfaction because people can meet, can get together and pray and enter into the union with Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. The Church in Poland is probably different from the Church in other countries. There are probably more people participating in the Eucharist. Maybe the Church in Poland is also a bit old-fashioned as some people say, and it gathers a great number of people. But the Church is slowly changing. For me it is very positive that I work here with young people so I can see that the Church is not really close to extinction, but it is developing. The structures are changing and they are not actually as they used to be. Now the Church is different, it goes out to people. I am very happy about it, and I am very happy when I can work with people.
This is our Polish wild strawberry, fragaria vescana. Some time ago, it was popular among children who liked picking it. It was eaten raw, or different preserves were made from it, like wine or compote or it was used as an addition to ice creams, and so on. It is not the only variety of wild strawberry eaten by people. The other variety is a strawberry, fragaria ananassa, which is a cross-breed of two American varieties, fragaria chiloensis and fragaria virginiana. It was improved a bit, made larger, and today it is more common because it is bigger and easier to pick. Picking wild strawberries, even in small amount, is unfortunately very labourious and involves lots of patience. It is a plant which belongs to the group of plants which are carried around by animals. It is carried because it has such tasty fruit, animals eat them, and then they excrete the seeds. Fruit growing on trees or bushes are often less aromatic because they are spread by birds, and birds have weaker sense of smell, like sour cherries and cherries, or blackthorn or hawthorn. Wild strawberry fruit is so aromatic because it decoys smaller animals, foxes or rodents which all have a great sense of smell. Moreover, this great smell has also been appreciated by people and I heard a story that, among some Native American tribes, girls before a meeting with a boy rub their armpits with wild strawberries, to smell nice. Not many legends or beliefs are connected with wild strawberries; it is just a nice and tasty fruit.
The shrimps I am showing here, and other sea-foods, will decompose much faster because of high enzyme activity. These enzymes are characteristic for these products. In contrast to different kinds of meat, the process of decomposition of proteins into peptides and into peptide bonds and then into amino acids is much faster. The first sign of decomposition since the time when organisms were taken out of water or after rigor mortis abated, appears after two or three hours. In the case of trout, rigor mortis appears only 30 minutes after death. As far as shrimps are concerned, they decompose even faster than some species of fish. It is connected with the fact that shrimps contain more water. Also the temperature in which such product is kept is very important. So, to stop the process of decomposition, freezers are used. Because even if kept in refrigerators, sea-food may decompose fast. The lower the temperature, close to zero degrees or – 1 degrees, the process will be more limited but it cannot be fully stopped. It can only be stopped when the product is frozen. When kept in room temperature the product will decompose fast, with the presence of substances like phenylamine which is responsible for the fish smell.
This is a poem in Turkish. It doesn’t matter whether it is in Turkish, or in Polish, or in Croatian, because nobody understands it anyway. Poetry is not read any more by anyone. We can write it in any language. I think that publishing volumes of poetry is harmful to nature. How many trees had to be cut down to publish such a volume of poetry, or of strange thoughts that are somewhere in young people’s heads? I am an opponent of poetry. I think we witness the death of this genre. Death of books in general. In Turkish, in Polish, in French. What are they for? To tickle one’s vanity? To increase one’s egoism? Poets should be punished, their right hands should be cut off, or the left, if they are left-handed, or their tongues should be torn out, and they should be forced to do jobs which are socially useful.
All the plants I am showing here have one thing in common. They are rich in fats. Almonds are seeds. They contain almost 50 percent of fats, sunflower seeds also contain from 50 to 60 percent of fats. And similarly peanuts may contain from 40 to over 50 percent of fats. It is not fat of the kind we eat in other dishes, for example animal fats. It is very healthy fat. All of the seeds we can see here contain lots of unsaturated fatty acids and poli-unsaturated fatty acids, the so-called essential unsaturated fatty acids. On the other hand, it must be emphasised that between these seeds here there are great differences. They belong to completely different biological groups. Almonds and sunflower seeds are typical seeds. However, not many people know that peanuts, although called nuts, are actually leguminous plants. They belong to the same group as green peas, as green beans, and so on. However, peanuts come from warm countries. They were discovered in Brazil, and they were brought to Europe from South America and became highly popular. From most of these nuts, but mostly from sunflower seeds and peanuts, sunflower oil and peanut oil are produced. These oils are very useful. Sunflower oil is recommended for salads, because it contains the greatest amount of essential unsaturated fatty acids, mainly linoleic acid. And peanut oil contains oleic acid and an amount of linoleic acid, which belongs to the very popular group of Omega 3 acids. I also have to emphasise that the plants we see here contain significant amount of protein. And because of that vegetarians should eat lot of nuts, also peanuts. Peanuts, sunflower seeds and almonds contain valuable minerals. Nuts should be the main source of magnesium in our diet. It makes our brain work better. Besides, nuts which are better-known in Poland, like hazelnut or walnut, contain lots of B vitamins, for example B1 or B2. However, theses seeds are very susceptible to mould. We can see here a seed covered with a special kind of mould; also these peanuts here have first signs of going mouldy. It is very dangerous for human health, oh, here you can see it well, such dark stains, they are mould colonies. One has to suspect that it can be a very dangerous mould, aspergillus niger, which produces aflatoxins, they are very dangerous substances, they may cause cancer. Some incidents of death were reported after eating big amounts of nuts infected with this type of mould. On the other hand, there is also one disadvantage to eating nuts, concerning especially almonds and peanuts, these nuts may contain protein which some people are allergic to. So, you have to bear in mind that some products, like chocolate, have information on the wrapping that they do not contain peanuts, because people who are allergic to peanut protein may react to even small amounts of it and have reddening of skin, severe itching or they may even suffocate.
This is cottage cheese made form cow’s milk. It is a few days’ old but it still looks nice. It is a basic product, naturally soured, and then drained. It has been known for centuries, and it is very popular, and it has always been eaten by people who live here in the country. It used to be eaten fresh right after it was made, or it was kept in a linen bag, tightly pressed, salted and dried, and it could be eaten when cows didn’t give milk, in winter – the excess was kept until winter. Nowadays we produce ecological food, also cottage cheese made from non-pasteurised milk, but we pack it in a special way so that it can stay fresh longer, and so that when it is bought, it doesn’t leak. We don’t use salt, we produce cheese systematically.
15 kilometres from the centre of Warsaw, holding a bunch of dried Armenian asparagus I’m standing on an asparagus plantation where the crop has already been collected. So, they are all the same species, this green asparagus that has not found its way to the tables, it grows straight from the ground and then it becomes an asparagus which is more likely associated with a decoration than with food. So this is what a modern asparagus plantation looks like after the crop has been picked. There are green asparagus that grow on the surface and have access to light, there are white asparagus that grow under the surface, in mounds. So, those green and these, they are all the same plant, asparagus officinalis in Latin, which means medical asparagus. Asparagus is more and more popular on our tables, more popular in Poland, more and more popular in Warsaw. In my family asparagus have been grown for generations, so for the purpose of preserving this tradition there is a small plantation of them on our farm. We eat them in May, till the middle of June, but they are best in May. The end of April and May is the asparagus season. I think that we will eat more and more of them in Poland, because it is a great vegetable, naturally grown and ready to eat in early spring as a source of taste and vitamins, prepared in different ways. I often eat them raw, and many people follow my example. New varieties are growing faster, they have fewer fibres, and they taste better and, as we can see, they are much different from these wild asparagus from Armenia. I guess it’s all I can say about asparagus, in a capsule.
This region is famous for orchard cultivation, for apple tree orchards and plum tree orchards. The existence of orchards here was first mentioned in the 12th century. There were mainly apple and plum trees. More and more of these trees have been planted because the legend says that for severe sins, especially bodily sins, priests gave people a penance of planting a tree. And since people sinned a lot, they planted many trees and this is why orchard cultivation is popular in here. Besides, there is a microclimate here, which is very good for the trees, so the tradition has been preserved up till now. Of course, the fruits from the trees have been processed, and here is an example of compote made from plums. Such preserves are made in households to this day. Compotes are made not only from plums but also from sour cherries, from cherries, currants, gooseberries, strawberries, from all the available kinds of fruit. They are made by housewives. There is nobody in this area to produce them for sale on a large scale. Although I think it would be an interesting product and that one could start producing it. My ancestors dealt with orchard cultivation for a very long time, they produced juice for their own use. In 2002, I started producing natural juice from the fruit from this region. Such a production done on a small scale makes it possible to produce natural juice without any preservatives, without sugar or water. Of course, this is more expensive but incomparably better than the juice produced on an industrial scale. I think that such products should be sold right at the farm so that the farmers can receive their money directly, and it would also be a kind of tourism for people visiting this area if they could buy food produced in this region. I would like to invite you here, where the juice is produced, you can taste different kinds of juice. Maybe soon I will also be producing such compotes as you can see here in a jar.
It is yet another edible nut, a heart-shaped leaf nut, juglans cordiformis. It is not as well known as walnut. Other kinds of nuts have harder shells, they are more difficult to open but their taste is very similar to walnut’s taste and they can be used in similar way.
The history of honey is very interesting because we think that honey is a 100 % natural product, which means that it is formed thanks to this bizarre process – harvested by bees, and then afterwards it is spun out of the combs by the bee-keeper. Ladies and gentlemen, you couldn’t be more wrong. It turns out that natural honey can be easily turned into artificial honey, and what’s even worse, it is even more difficult to verify, to check whether this honey is real or artificial or fake. A simple example, I will give you an example. The most aromatic Polish honey, buckwheat honey, can be made in such a way that an apiary with bees is taken to the field of buckwheat and bees collect this buckwheat and then the real buckwheat honey is made. But you can as well make buckwheat honey in such a way that about 10%, so about this amount of it, is the natural buckwheat honey, and then put it in a bucket with water with sugar dissolved in it and the bees will collect this kind of syrup which gets mixed with this bit, this 10% of the real buckwheat honey, and this will guarantee that this honey will taste exactly like true buckwheat honey and which most of us would not be able to recognise anyway. There’s one more very interesting story about honey, because we say ‘honey’. There are many different kinds of honey, there is buckwheat honey, honeydew, which we know, linden honey, multi-flower honey which we can find in our shops most often, but we also have honey such as hedge-mustard honey, dandelion honey, or willow honey which is removed from the hives in the flood plains of the Narew River in late spring.
But there is also an extraordinary story connected with the so-called heather honey – in the lower Silesia and in the Drawsko lake district there are great moors, one of the biggest in Europe. In Drawsko lake district, there is a strange story. On a tank shooting range, in a Soviet army training ground, there grew marvellous heather, it was over one thousand hectares of heathers in one stretch. When in season, when honey is removed from the hives, when heather is in bloom, at the turn of August and September, such a view, especially at sunset in such a soft light, is just breathtaking. And there the bee-keepers take their bees, the whole apiaries, which collect the heather nectar which is later made into honey. But the sad story is that when the Soviet army had left, the tanks stopped shooting on this shooting range, the heathers were no longer burning every year and other plants started to overgrow the moor. Neither the district of Borne-Sulinowo nor the National Forests Office are able to collect ten thousand złoty to cut out birches, self-seeders or other trees which will soon turn these moors into normal forest.
The second interesting story connected with honey… because we have here something different, something liquid, not a solid substance, and this is mead. We usually wonder how can it be that it is so, and that mead has 14, 15 or even 17% of alcohol, like Półtorak, so how can alcohol be obtained from honey. And this is all natural, honey mixed with some water or juice with the addition of wine yeast which boosts fermentation and produces great alcoholic beverage, actually the oldest alcoholic drink in Poland, with a millenary tradition, which we call mead. There was a strange story connected with these meads and Mr Maciek Jaros. During the times of the Communist Party in Warsaw there was a meadery where these meads were produced and they served as presents given by the Party officials to foreign guests, or when they went for visits abroad, to give somebody such a traditional Polish gift. But when communism collapsed in 1989, there were several thousand bottles of this mead left, among others – a great Royal mead, or Heraldic mead, and others, and what is interesting is that Mr Maciek Jaros, who took this meadery over, he had a company for two years and sold meads that were twenty years old. And they were fantastic meads that are worth discovering once again. So, mead and natural honey are something that can be wonderfully natural, but can be easily messed up as well. Anyway, let’s hope it happens as rarely as possible.
I have been making such barrels for many years. They are for wine, for cognac, for cabbage, depending on what one needs. It is a habit I inherited from my grandfather. Such a thing is for wine, and for plum vodka, it is so tight that nothing can leak from it. The timber has to be very dry, and it has to be made without glue because glue is unhealthy. So, it has to be made this way, without glue, that it does not leak. The most important thing is that it does not leak.