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The Cross and the Cleaver: When in Rome…

We can learn about, and experience, particular culture through many aspects. The behavioural norms, the art, the history and, of course, the food. I am of the opinion there are two places to experience the food culture of a particular place. One is in the restaurant hailing it serves local food that locals frequent. I heard it said that the most authentic Chinese restaurant in Calgary is the one full of Chinese people; makes sense. The second place to experience a particular culture through food is on the street … literally. Which means …when in Rome, do not go for McDonalds😉! Most cultures have street food, rich in flavour and history, with complex or simple ingredients. 

Let me tell you a story about a place and about food😊. They were, and still are, small booths. 2.5 m. tall. 2.5 m. wide and 2 m deep, usually located outside the main train, or bus, stations. You would find them on any main downtown street, plaza, or marketplace. Places where hungry people would walk. It was a treat worth skipping school for, it was a nourishment before and/or after a fishing or skiing trip. It was, and continues to be, a quintessential Polish street food born in the mid 1970s called “zapiekanka” (something baked). Some uncouth snobs call it a pizza’s poor and distant relative; they are not my friends. If you do internet search of the name, you will come across numerous recipes. Many of them are quite elaborate, calling for ingredients we did not know existed at the time. Plain, simple, and tasty – that’s what I go for, and that’s what I invite you to experience. Let’s get cooking! …. 

Heat a non-stick pan to med heat and pour in a tbsp. of oil. 

Add medium white onion, finely chopped, sauté for 3-5 min until fragrant and translucent.  

Add 2lb of white mushrooms, finely chopped or shredded, sauté for 15 min until VERY aromatic and most of moisture has evaporated. 

Season with salt and pepper halfway through. 

Meanwhile get a baguette – cut it in half, then cut lengthwise. 

Divide and spread the mushroom/onion mixture evenly on all the baguette pieces. 

Top each slice with shredded mozzarella, Italian mix, or cheddar cheese. 

Pop on a baking sheet, into 400F oven for 7-10 min until cheese browns and bubbles. 

Serve with a generous drizzle of ketchup and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper (if you like). 

Here is a variation from my hometown (pic included from my 2019 visit in Poland) 😊: 

Prepare the seasoned onion/mushroom/cheese mixture in a non-stick pan.  

Cut one tip of the submarine bun and hollow it inside by skewering it with your wife’s hot curling iron (imagine toasting it with that rod from the inside for approx. 3-5 min. or until you feel the heat on the outside of the bun). 

Fill the bun’s hollow with the hot mixture and …. ENJOY!!! 😊 

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