Polish Christmas Eve is a Fermented Food feast. I wasn’t aware of this until I started blogging and reflecting on the omnipresence of Fermented Food in the Polish cuisine.
In fact, I began my home fermentation journey with making a jar of beetroot kvass that is a product for Christmas Eve borscht. Maybe it’s a bit of a risky statement, but to my knowledge, there are very few Polish families who don’t eat this dish on Christmas Eve. Let me know if I am wrong.
Obviously, it was also present on the table at my home last Christmas. This time (second year in a row!), in its proper, i.e. fermented, form. It’s heavenly delicious, especially if cooked by OBH; subtle sourness balanced with a hint of sweetness infused with intense garlic aroma (OBH will mock me for this clumsy attempt to be a culinary writer, for sure).
And it was only the beginning. The borscht was followed by so-called kapusta postna (lent cabbage), which is sauerkraut cooked with peas and wild mushrooms.
After that, we had pierogi z kapustą, i.e. dumplings filled with sauerkraut and wild mushrooms. That was gas!
For the record, we also had fried carp, ryba po grecku (cod served cold with root vegetables), two kinds of herrings, kluski z makiem (lasagna pasta cut in squares with sweet poppy seeds) and cooked cheesecake. All those are not fermented (as far as I am aware), but I listed them here for you to know that we didn’t just stuffed ourselves with cabbage and called this Christmas Eve dinner.
All this may look a bit boring, but mind you, we don’t eat meat (except fish) on that day, so it must have been quite a challenge for our ancestors to come up with the menu, especially as the tradition says that exactly twelve dishes must be consumed.
Don’t think we closed the fermented food chapter with the end of Christmas Eve. No, being a model Polish family, as the main meal on the first day of Christmas we ate the mighty bigos.
Bigos is sauerkraut cooked with all possible kind of meat, something like sauerkraut stew, you could say. Probably, the amount of meat in bigos is supposed to compensate the meatlessness of Christmas Eve dinner.
I am really sad that Christmas is over and all the leftovers long gone from the fridge.
I hope it all will be exactly the same next year. Cannot wait.
Thank you for reading!