Robert promotes an age-old preservation process
Robert Książyk lives in Grochale, a hamlet located in Mazovia, some 60km north of Warsaw. He is a successful home building contractor. One of his many hobbies is the gourmet preparation of smoked fish. First tested on family and friends, his production has gained a strong reputation of quality. Robert is now selling his products with a ‘short circuit’ entrepreneurship spirit.
Grochale has plenty of fishing opportunities. This hamlet is located a stone's throw away from the Vistula,
river that cross Poland from Southern Beskids Mountains to North Baltic Sea. Nearby, there are also two lakes and the Kromnowski canal.
Robert keeps alive the ancient Polish tradition of smoked food. Dry fish existed during prehistoric times and became a traded good with the massive settlement of Slaves (500–700 AD) and the Viking presence (10th c.).
During the early 20th c., many farms had a smokehouse (wędzarnia). Safely located away from the house, these little shacks were rudimentary, generally built in wood. Prosperous farmers had larger brick cabins.
Smoking is an agelong traditional food preservation. The process can last from several hours to several weeks. Wood smoke conveys many organic elements, some of which have fungicidal,
bactericidal and antimicrobial properties. Smoked fish can remain fresh for as long as two years.
Wood makes the taste. Any hardwood is fine but some trees can give a very special flavour.
Some gourmets can even differentiate the distinctive tastes of beech, alder, pear, hornbeam, apple, maple or juniper. Conifers wood is avoided because it gives a turpentine taste to the food.
In Poland, smoked food is in every kitchen. Supermarkets have impressive displays of smoked cold cuts,
smoked fishes and smoked cheeses. Regional specialties compete with great tastes and excellent quality.