Monday, May 4, 2009

May 3rd: Sernik Day

We celebrated Polish Constitution Day by baking our first sernik/cheesecake ever. The "/" captures our concentrated attempts to combine Polish and American recipes, which are very different, having wildly divergent conceptions of what cheese is.

My first confrontation with the gaping culinary wound caused by the lack of twaróg (yes, it's like the German Quark, only different) was with pierogi(es). The genuine pierogi z serem have white cheese (i.e. twaróg) filling. With cheddar they are just ridiculous.

I gave up hopes of making my own twaróg after I noticed that milk was good to drink after a month -- it didn't go sour. This explains several other oddities, like why kefir costs a fortune here and why you can only get it at the co-op. I dread to think what possible complications, chemical tricks, and replacement strategies go into the production of sour cream and yogurt.

And what cottage cheese really is. It was the closest to twaróg that I could get, but senselessly salty. The only reason I can think of that would justify putting crazy amounts of salt into butter and cottage cheese (as they do here) is to then effectively advertise other, "low- or non-sodium" products as a remedy for impending death.

You know, salt shakers aren't that heavy to lift and they have the fantastic option of letting you decide how much salt you want, so why sabotage that? The grocery logic here is mostly beyond me.

Of course, in spite of the generally successful hybridization of recipes, the cheesecake came out oddly salty. And yet, I can't post a picture, because I've devoured most of it already.

Once I'm done with my papers, I think I'll take G. on a mission to get some raw milk. I hope it doesn't entail stealing a cow, but there always are things you can't foresee...

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