• December 3, 2014
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The Radziwiłł’s Cuisine in Gražina Drėmaitė’s book

What “pularda” and “kapłon” are? How “amoretki” are served? How to prepare ginger water? The answers for these questions can be found in the book recently published by “Versus aureus” and entitled “Radvilų dvaro meniu – Radziwiłł’s table dishes”. The book was published in two languages, Polish and Lithuanian, and its author is Gražina Drėmaitė, restorer of monuments and the leader of Foundation for Support of Polish-Lithuania Cooperation of Adam Mickiewicz.

The history of the book devoted to the Radziwiłł’s cuisine began at the exhibition of Lithuanian National Historical Archive when Gražina Drėmaitė’s attention was attracted by two yellowed papers filled with slightly illegible handwriting. Gražina Drėmaitė said “I am a restorer of monuments and every dirty, blurred piece of paper interests me. When I saw that what is written on this piece of paper is a recipe with a date January 19th, 1783 I got even more curious. Afterwards, it turned out that Historical Archive has 18 pieces of paper of that kind, with written in Polish the Radziwiłł’s court cuisine. Thanks to them, we can find out what was the dinner and supper menu for the hostess, her husband, children and servants. That discovery made me euphoric and I decided that I need to write about it”.

The archival records probably include the Radziwiłł’s cook menus for the family members and servants, recipes for cookies, home-made vinegar and ginger water. However, it is not known from which Radziwłł’s court those notes come from.

Before the book was written, it took a lot of effort from Jadwiga Rudzis, the worker of Lithuanian National Historical Archive, who decipher the Radziwiłł’s cook notes. “I am used to this kind of documents but in the process of work more and more questions appeared: What does this word mean? What is this? How to do this and what is it eaten with? It took me a lot of time to look for the information which could be read from those papers. Not everything could be found on the Internet, I also had to look into some old cookbooks” – said Jadwiga Rudzis about the work on the found archival materials. She found out, for example, that the popular in old Polish cuisine “pularda” is simply a young hen fed in particular way to get soft and crispy meat, while “kapłon” is castrated specially fed young roaster. For Jadwiga Rudzis, the biggest mystery were “amoretki”. In the interview with Wilnoteka she says that till now she is not sure what precisely it is.

The deciphering of the notes of the Radziwiłł’s cook took Jadwiga Rudzis a couple of months. Afterwards, the translator, Biruta Mikalonienė, the author of the Lithuanian translation of “Lithuanian cook” by Wincenta Zawadzka, committed herself to Lithuanian translation of the text.

What else did the Radziwiłł eat? The host had for dinner e.g. roasted mutton, while his wife had roasted chicken. They also served venison and roasted pigeons. The Radziwiłłs also had a lot of vegetables and grain. For dessert they had pears, morenga and bread pie. They cook separately for servants.

According to Artūras Mickevičius, the director of “Versus aureus”, the book “The Radziwiłł’s table dishes” should be interesting to people who are into culinary heritage, who look for old authentic recipes but also to those interested in history not only in political context but also in everyday life of people of the18th century.

Translated by Aneta Gębska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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