Traditional Dumplings of Europe
Knödelmeister Christoph Wagner is adamant. Dumplings are an alpine tradition centered in Oberösterreich (Upper Austria). Four thousand years ago the people of Mondsee, east of Salzburg, mixed flakes and flour from millet and wheat with fruit, herbs, nuts and water into a filled dough they baked in a stove.
Was that the origin of the dumpling tradition? Austrians like to believe it is although the people of the western alpine regions were also making dumpling-like doughs one thousand years earlier.
The common denominator was hiking and hunting in the mountains. It is plausible to believe that the first dumplings were made from a thickened porridge mixture formed into balls, stuffed with fruit or meat, and baked to allow for easy transportation.
The history began two thousand years ago when dumplings were common fare in the hostelries on Roman roads across the Alps.
FEATURED ARTISANAL PRODUCT
On a clear sky blue day the panoramic view from the top of Säntis is breathtaking – the Spülgenpass and Italy to the south, Lucerne and the Swiss Alpine range to the south-west, Vaduz and Austria to the east, the Bodensee and Germany to the north.
The northwards view sweeps across the cantons of Saint Gallen, Thurgau and Appenzell – rolling mountains and herbal meadows dotted in summer with grazing cattle.
This is ‘Appenzellerland: vom Bodensee bis zum Säntis’, where the secrets of tending cattle and cheesemaking are shrouded in family history.
Here we present three recipes that feature this aromatic cheese.
FEATURED STREET FOOD
Hand-picking sweet chestnuts from the woods alongside the Rhône under the high peaks is an old tradition of the people. Traditionally the chestnuts were roasted over an open fire, taken inside and served with chunks of mature mountain cheese accompanied by fresh grapes, pieces of apple and pear, grape (must) juice or young wine to wash everything down. Nothing unusual there, just the typical country fare of the canton.
Except this is brisolée, the autumn harvest plate of the people who tend the land where the Rhône is joined by the Dranse at the acute turn eastwards into the valley below the Bernese Alps at Martigny.
Here chestnuts abound between the river, the town of Martigny and the adjacent village of Fully, where the annual chestnut fair is more than a celebration, it is an event characterised by brisolée and fondue and the traditional produce and products of the valley.
The Swiss make up to 300 different breads. Baked daily among these are the iconic small breads, known as brötchen or brötli. Our book features small breads from across Europe. For more on the small breads of the alps go here.
Poland’s traditional food has always been difficult to describe because of the countless influences. Now, with the re-publication of its first cookbook, the secret is out and it is not that surprising.
Polish master cook Stansław Czerniecki’s Compendium Ferculorum albo Zebranie Potraw (Collection of Dishes) is a Polish culinary monument. Published in 1682 his ‘collection’ was the first Polish cookbook, not unusual for the time because Europe’s aristocratic courts boasted countless cookbooks compiled by master chefs amidst a period that established a new sensibility about food, its preparation and presentation. That it predated the second Polish cookbook Kucharz Doskonały by 101 years is astonishing, yet there was a very good reason.
Czerniecki’s Compendium Ferculorum was a masterpiece at the time, and remains one of the greatest cookbooks ever produced. It stands tall alongside the great cookbooks of the past millennium. The decision by the Museum of King Jan III’s Place at Wilanów, Warsaw to reprint it only affirms this belief, as attested by Paweł Jaskanis, director of the museum, and by Jarosław Dumanowski, editor of the culinary monument series.
‘Relish the flavour of these pages,’ writes Jaskanis with gusto. ‘It teaches how to stimulate both taste and imagination, how to surprise banqueters, how to bedazzle them with the appearance of dishes and their presentation.’
‘It is an extraordinary work which describes that not only is completely different from the modern, but which also greatly departs from the popular perception of the Polish cuisine and history,’ writes Dumanowski, asserting the pride Czerniecki felt, ‘that thanks to him Poles had received a work describing their national cuisine’.
For the full story go here.
FEATURED TRADITIONAL DISH
FEATURED TRADITIONAL BREAD
Crumpets and Pikelets (raised bread rounds)
These breads were baked on stones, on irons over coal, peat or wood fires, on griddles over ranges and stoves, and on cast-iron frying pans. Crumpets are baked in warmed rings set on greased griddles, where the bottom heat forces the batter to create a honeycomb effect as the steam attempts to escape. Pikelets are baked directly on the griddle as pancakes, also oven-baked.
Out of the Blue, Dingle, Ireland
Tim Mason called his restaurant Out of the Blue for the obvious reason. While blue skies are not a regular feature of Ireland’s wild Atlantic coast, every now and then a fish restaurant appears that is radically ‘out of the blue’ and is a surprising success. The fish is fresh, perfectly cooked and served imaginatively, as you would expect of chefs who know their fish. Then the chefs move on and take their reputation and skill with them.
FEATURED FOOD PLACE
Domodossola Market Square
Every Saturday morning Giorgio and Claudia Battaglia park their food truck containing cheese, cured meats and salami in the Piazza Arturo dell’Oro in the heart of Domodossola, the principle alpine town of Piedmont in north-west Italy. Sometimes, usually Thursdays and Fridays, they can be found in the Piazza Mercato in the old town, now restored to its former glory.
They have a thriving business, and that it is be expected because this is a region that has pride in its local foods. Giorgio and Claudia know this. They arrived with their truck only three years ago. Now they sell everything the Piedmontese food artisans and food producers have to offer, like the absolutely delicious Ossolano cheeses.
For more on Ossolano cheese go here.
For more on Domodossola’s food market go here.
THE GREAT EUROPEAN FOOD ADVENTURE
We are on the outskirts of Hayıroğlu village trying to imagine what it was like to live here 10,500 years ago. This is the western edge of the Konya Plain in south-central Anatolia, roughly 250 kilometres from the Mediterranean coast. It is a steppe landscape, a patchwork quilt of fields designed for agriculture and pasture, crucial to an indigenous food culture that is being reshaped as we speak.
Charlie Chaplin’s Shoes Are Made of Chocolate
Indigenous produce | artisanal products | traditional recipes … with news, features, interviews and stories about Europe’s traditional food culture, including reviews of fairs, festivals and markets, cafes, diners and restaurants, cookery, food and recipe books, descriptions of local produce and value-added products, profiles of artisans and producers, bakers and specialists, cooks and chefs — creative sustainable food security for the 21st century … the FRICOT PROJECT