“Food and Drink in Medieval Poland: Rediscovering a Cuisine of the Past”


  Maria Dembinska. Magdalena Thomas, translator. Edited and adapted by William Woys Weaver
256 pages, 40 illustrations, $29.95 cloth

Lavender vinegar, saffron wafers, chicken baked with prunes, pears stewed with cucumbers and figs ... there is something wonderfully inviting about the unusual and exotic flavors that came to the medieval Polish table. By turns robust and refined, and capturing all the richness and complexity of Poland in the Middle Ages, this is cookery that flourished at the crossroads of Western and Oriental foodways.

“Food and Drink in Medieval Poland” is the first book of its kind in English to explore the history of cookery in medieval Poland. It represents the fruits of a 20-year collaboration between two distinguished food historians, William Woys Weaver — author of the best-seller “Heirloom Vegetable Gardening” — and the late Maria Dembinska of Warsaw University. This new English edition explores Polish medieval cuisine through archaeology, material culture and ethnography, along with other perspectives and techniques.

But to really appreciate the tastes and textures of medieval Polish cookery, there is simply no better way than to experience the food firsthand. Weaver has included 35 carefully reconstructed recipes, from courtier’s pottage, a one-pot dinner popular with rich peasants and petty nobles, to game stewed with sauerkraut, to a court dish of baked fruit, to Polish hydromel, an easily made drink flavored with honey and fennel. With ingredients such as rosewater, cucumbers, saffron and honey, these recipes will intrigue anyone who loves the art of cooking.

The subject was so intriguing that The New Yorker included the book in a recent article on the culinary canon. The Polish Review wrote, “This book deserves wide circulation in both culinary and cultural history circles.”

—University of Pennsylvania Press


Originally published on April 20, 2000