BOOK REVIEW: Wild Honey and Rye

Wild Honey and Rye: Modern Polish Recipes by Ren Behan

Fresh and Versatile, a New Look in Polish Cuisine

In her debut cookbook, Wild Honey and Rye: Modern Polish Recipes, acclaimed food writer for BBC Good Food Magazine Renatka Behan gives traditional Polish cuisine a fresh look. Her innovative twist on classic Polish recipes is as enticing as her whip-smart assortment of newly designed dishes—many of them inspired by recent food tours in Warsaw, the upbeat “food capital” of Poland.

“My aim is to introduce you to Polish food in a new way . . . with an emphasis on seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as a selection of healthy grains.” And because summertime is Polish festival time, Behan is excited to share some of her recipes!

Behan may lighten a traditional Polish menu with her signature substitutions, but she preserves what is at the heart of authentic Polish cooking: love of fresh garden goods, nature’s herbal seasonings, and homemade everything—from white cheese to flavored vodkas. Behan shares her art of making Polish cooking lighter with recipes using ancient grains—buckwheat, barely and millet—in place of rice and potatoes. A favorite is a Polish vegan version of risotto, “Kaszotto” (pp. 121-122) made with millet, mushrooms and veggie stock!

Wild Honey and Rye invites lovers of classic Polish cookery as well as those in search of fresh seasonal fare to discover new flavor combinations in soups, market salads, infused honey, vegetarian, vegan, seafood, and meat entrées—and dumplings, of course. Featuring more than 100 beautiful recipes with extraordinary photography, Behan introduces the new wave in Polish cookery, from breakfast to dessert. And for those who love the narrative in a cookbook, the measured spoonfuls of history point readers to Behan’s love of Polish culinary heritage in combination with her affinity to create wonderful things in the kitchen.

Before she was a chef and a food journalist, Behan was a defense attorney in England. Born and raised in the UK, the mother of three writes an elegant cookbook that brings Polish cuisine to the modern kitchen. Behan’s parents were born in Poland before WWII. After being deported to the eastern regions of Russia near Oblast Archangelsk and narrowly escaping with their lives, her parents made their way to safety in England.
“I have often caught myself trying to reconcile the very ‘Polishness’ of my upbringing with the British sleeve of my passport. Perhaps if I had been called Susan, I might have felt less Polish, but being the only ‘Renatka’ in a class of British children did make me stand out a bit.”

Behan’s parting word? “Smacznego!”

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