Krakow, the European capital of gastronomy

15 Feb 2020

Poland’s old town of Krakow, situated near its border with Czech Republic, was chosen as the European capital of gastronomy for the year 2019. Home to Targ Pietruszkowy, literally “parsley market”, Krakow is upholding the ideals of farmer’s markets.

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Started in June 2013, Krakow Earth Market – Targ Pietruszkowy brings together local producers (between 40-80) every Saturday for citizens looking for nutritious and sustainably grown food. All the products sold at market are grown within a 150 km radius of Krakow, ensuring that they are fresh and seasonal.

The produce is sold directly by producers who own farmlands no bigger than 15 hectares and cultivate their crops in diverse ways. By eliminating intermediaries, the farmers are able to bargain for a fair price for their produce, empower consumers with information about their food while the customers in turn can support the local agrarian community of the region.

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But the gastronomic heritage of the country has long relied on oral traditions and is plagued by the absence of written sources. The lack of medieval or renaissance Polish literature pertaining to gastronomy leaves much to the imagination. Scientific methods, such as examination of historical sources, analyses of visual materials as well as interviews enable a broader understanding of the cuisine and its evolution.

Literature surrounding Krakow’s markets and the goods sold there as well as information gleaned from accounting books, city price lists, guild documents or archaeological or botanical research make the picture more vivid.

The Oscypek cheese is one such product that has been traced using the aforementioned means. Produced in the Tatra Mountains since the 14th century, Oscypek is made from the milk of Zackel sheep, a Hungarian breed that has adapted to the local landscape and conditions over centuries. Made by shepherds themselves in rudimentary but hygienic huts called bacowka, the cheese are hung from rafters, smoked and shaped with decorated wooden moulds (as seen in the picture).

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In a bid to promote the “new gastronomy” concept, the Slow Food-Central Europe project has forged a new alliance between five cities: Venice, Dubrovnik, Brno, Kecskemét and Krakow. These cities and the unique products they offer exemplify our multidisciplinary approach to food that recognises and further strengthens the relationship between the plate, the planet and its people.

To learn more visit foodpathsnetwork.slowfood.com

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