Thommy Ford Reads

A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library

50 Great Cookbooks at Thomas Ford – Week 34

Polish Chicago: Our History, Our Recipes by Joseph W. Zurawski (641.59438 ZUR)

What kind of cookbook is Polish Chicago: Our History, Our Recipes?
This book with text by Chicago native Joseph W. Zurawski, recipes collected by Julita Siegel, and food photographs by Katherine Bish was a community project, which brought together the work of many people from the largest Polish community outside of Warsaw. Zurawski’s historical chapters with abundant photos let readers know about the Polish heritage of Chicago and about the neighborhoods in which Polish immigrants and their descendants lived. Siegel’s contribution is the collecting of recipes with stories from many families and noted Polish restaurants, delis, and bakeries. With Bish’s photography, the work is a very visual celebration of the Polish culture in the great Midwestern city.

Is this cookbook easy to use?
A scan of the table of contents or browsing the two recipes sections reveals many traditional dishes, such as pheasant in rosemary and sage cream sauce, cabbage rolls, and Polish coffee cake. The recipes are clear, and the photos are tempting. An index would have added to the ease of finding recipes.

Can you easily buy the ingredients for the recipes?
The ingredients are common. What is remarkable is what Polish chefs do with them.

What is special about this cookbook?
In Polish Chicago, the editors put the recipes into a cultural and historical context. While finding out how to make the dishes, readers also learn about the families who have made them and about Polish immigrant life. You can also read about Polish sports figures, neighborhood parades, and the Polka.

What are my favorite recipes from this cookbook?
I’d like to eat with all of the contributors, especially the following:

  • Danuta Szymanska who makes Chicken Roulades with Cheese and Mushroom Filling (page 80)
  • Maria Marton who makes Walnut Torte (page 94)
  • Wojciech and Ellen Wierzewski who make Meatballs in Dill Sauce (page 110)
  • Szalas Restaurant which makes Highlander-Style Potato Pancakes with Goulash (page 214)

Review by Rick

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This entry was posted on August 26, 2012 by in 50 Great Cookbooks, Book Review, Cooking, Non-Fiction.
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