Moniuszko w kuchni (Moniuszko In the Kitchen) is Poland’s first opera cookbook, authored by the unlikely duo of Agnieszka Kręglicka, restaurateur, food writer and advocate of sustainable farming, and Maciej Gmys, musicologist, music critic and professor at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań.
There are no historical records of Stanisław Moniuszko’s food preferences. Mentions of the many cups of tea he would gulp down are definitely not enough. The authors pulled the strings of their imagination and put together a culinary collection inspired by the places the composer visited, the people he met and the pieces he composed. While Agnieszka Kręglicka devised the recipes ‘à la Moniuszko’ and ‘for Moniuszko’, musical sommelier Marcin Gmys paired them with music. Barbara Dereń-Marzec rendered a picture of Moniuszko’s kitchen which Kuba Pajewski photographed.
The collection includes a recipe for The Haunted Manor, Songbook for Home Use, Halka (the Vilnius version), String Quartet in D minor and other pieces by Moniuszko. Readers will also learn that in Moniuszko’s times breakfast was a feast that does not require formal dress, was served around noon and besides the obligatory bread, cold meats, dairy, honey or marmalade included zrazy (beef roulades), bigos (hunter’s stew), meat cutlets, roast poultry, fish served up hot and cold, borsch or broth. Premieres of new dishes were as exciting as opera openings: pommes Anna (thinly sliced potatoes layered in melted butter and baked), poire belle Hélène (pears cooked in syrup, glazed in chocolate and served with ice cream), tournedos alla Rossini (beef tenderloin)… The names may have been fancy but the taste was excellent, making guests eager to sit themselves at the table.