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A fork and a book

Hello and welcome to “Forking Around with History” – a blog about food and drink, as well as language, literature and history. My idea for this blog is to do – in the area of Polish culinary history – what MythBusters were doing in the area of physics on Discovery Channel. That is, to find some oft-repeated tidbits related to the history of Polish (and not only) cuisine and verify whether there is a grain of truth to them. My goal is to make it both interesting and informative – even if inexpert, because, just as the MythBusters are not physicists by training, I'm neither a professional historian nor a food specialist. I hope, though, that historians and food experts, too, will find it interesting or even inspiring.

The history of cooking – that is, not of where and how people used to get their food from (that's part of economic history), but rather how they prepared and consumed it – came into the purview of professional historians only recently. In France it began around the 1980s, in Poland – only in the current century. If anyone had been writing about the history of Polish foodways for the general audience before that, it was non-specialists, whose publications didn't represent rigorous scholarly research. Rather, they consisted of uncritically copied anecdotes and curiosities with more or less grounding in historical sources. With time, they have even seeped into various compendia and encyclopedias – printed and online, Polish and international – with little factual verification. Because, firstly, it's not a very serious topic, so why even bother? And secondly, why ruin a good, appetizing story with fact-checking?

I'm offering a somewhat different approach; I invite you to fork around with history together with me, to try and recreate the origins and evolution of some of those legends and myths, and to debunk certain misconceptions about the history of Polish cuisine. And we may even cook something tasty from time to time.

Karol Palion


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