Food Storyteller exploring Eastern Europe
I call myself a Storyteller-Cook, my aim is to inspire the world to cook and eat more food from Eastern Europe. I am interested in the culture and history of food, therefore I use storytelling as a medium for delving into another cuisine and through it, into another culture.
I have written three cookbooks on Eastern European cuisine – Polska, Amber & Rye and Pierogi. I am currently working on a food focused PhD and my fourth book, which will be something a little different…
I learnt the art of cooking from an early age, from my beloved Babcias (grandmas) – Ziuta and Halinka. All of my early childhood memories are intertwined with food, so now I am now passing on the culinary love to my two daughters.
An Unknown Cuisine
My own story began in a land and time very removed and different from the one I inhabit today. I was born in Communist Poland in 1979 and spent the first 8 years of my life in an oppressive regime that I remember with a strange mixture of fear and nostalgia. There was often nothing to be found in the shops. Sometimes people would queue for 8 hours or more to buy one random ingredient that happened to be available that day, yet somehow the Polish people always found a way to eat and to enjoy themselves. Families, friends and communities would work together to find, grow, forage and obtain everything that was needed to create amazing feasts.
Since arriving in the UK, aged 8, I have found that people here know very little about my country, it’s food and culture. Even now that there are so many Poles living here, the cuisine is relatively unknown or completely misunderstood. When I started writing “Polska” I had a full-time job and would get up at 6.30am to do 45min of writing before work. In this way, bit-by-bit, the book wrote itself. All the interest that my book has generated has been heartwarming. I hope that my story is an inspiration to others to follow their passions.
(Photograph by Laura Edwards)