2 (Mon) August 2021
Deconstructed Polish Boys
-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-
with the Family
Newbery 100 Medals, 100 Meals (63) (see 100 NEWBERY M&Ms)
While reading the 100 books that have been awarded the annual Newbery Medal since 1922, I am attempting to create one dish for every book, a dish that is directly referenced in or indirectly inspired by the events of the book. The dishes will be featured as posts on Give Me This Day.
The Trumpeter of Krakow (1929) by Eric P Kelly. Set in Krakow, 1462, the book is about 15-year-old Joseph Charnetski, whose family flees Ukraine to Poland and hides under assumed identities to safeguard – SPOILER ALERT – the Great Tarnov Crystal aka the Philosopher’s Stone, which has been in their family’s care for generations. To earn money, Joseph’s father takes on the role of trumpeter, who stands in the tower of the Church of Our Lady St. Mary and sounds every hour by playing St. Mary’s Trumpet Call, a 5-note melody – but not the final “broken” note, in tribute to a trumpeter of yore who was killed during an invasion of Krakow by the Huns in 1241, when he began to play the call as an alarm to close the gates but he was shot before he could finish the song.
Meh. It’s an adventure/fantasy story, but not particularly exciting/interesting. No character development, no issues explored.
Even worse, it’s yet another book set in an “exotic” land by an American white author who had no direct connection with the culture. Kelly spent a bit of time teaching English literature in Poland, where presumably he was “inspired” to write the book. While the hourly trumpet call with the unfinished note continues in Krakow to this day, and the legend of the fallen trumpeter is now embraced by Krakovians, the story might’ve been entirely made up by the author – no credible evidence exists within local historical records .
Kielbasa is Polish sausage. The term means “sausage.” Whereas sausage is a staple in Polish cuisine, kielbasa is made in various styles made from various meats and cooked in various methods. Globally, “kielbasa” usually refers to a thick sausage, often shaped into a U, heavily spiced and smoked, usually grilled.
Polish Boy is an American dish. Consists of a grilled kielbasa in a hotdog bun, covered with french fries + cole slaw + BBQ/hot sauce. Popular in Cleveland, Ohio, where a large Polish-American community exists.
The book makes no mention of food (unless I missed it), so I made Polish boys.
Because Korean stores don’t sell hotdog buns, and because I take every opportunity these days to make bread, I tried baking my own. The bread came out okay, but a bit too dense and way too small as hotdog buns. So, I sliced them lengthwise and pan-grilled them in butter, which made them crispy and juicy, kinda like a toasted bagel. Everyone agreed that the bread was the best part of the dish.
The kielbasa were from Johncook Deli Meats. I sliced them into disks and pan-grilled them. Nicely smoky and salty, much more aggressive in flavor than typical sausages produced in Korea. We liked them a lot.
The cole slaw was improvised with cabbage + carrots + mayo + mustard + sour cream + scallions. It was fine.
The fries were seasoned fries from the Korean producer Cuisine. Air-fried, they turned out nicely crispy and tasty, just right for this dish.
The sauce was a bottled sriracha from the Thai producer Pantai. It was mildly spicy, sweet and tangy, a great condiment to pair with the fatty sausages.
Overall, it was a fun dish.
(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)