The Low Land, where the mists and the sunrise is the most beautiful.

The Low Land from above - Nogat, fot: pomorskie.travel

The Low Land – the region situated among Gdansk, Malbork and Elblag. A special place due to its history, architecture and people who live here. This land has specific geographical location – it is situated in a depression and has to be drained artificially. It is full of rivers, ditches and canals.

The Low Land is associated with mists, sunrise, sunset and willows. Such landscapes are triggering the imagination and the hearts - says Marta Antonina Lobocka, the leader of the organisation “We love Low Land” and a blogger. We discuss what is worth seeing in Low Land with her.

The Low Land, attractions for everyone...

Pomerania is well known and liked Polish region. The most popular is of course the Tricity agglomeration. Kashuby is also well known. When we ask about the Low Land, very few people know the area…

- Yes, indeed, but is changing slowly. Low Land has a lot to offer. Such landscapes and architecture You  won’t find anywhere, as well as different kind of attractions. For example, like the narrow gage railway and connected with it the turning bridge in Rybina, which is moved manually by two people. It is a unique view and the only such device in Europe.

On the other hand, the waterways lovers will eagerly visit the Low Land Loop, a unique waterway, where You can also use a houseboat. Low Land people are very friendly, so if You come here once, for sure You will come back… on the bike this time. The area is flat so cycling is very easy here.

Fot. pomorskie.travel

Wooded arcaded houses. Low Land is proud of its characteristic architecture.

- Low Land architecture is very special. In every village we have old huts, many old churches and in many cases living open air museums. There is no other places like that in Poland in case of the details and the whole area. In case of the details in Low Land You can be speechless. You can find special wooden carving decorations of houses made by the hand saws. They are situated usually on the edge of roofs, house entrances or above the windows. They are very decorative and were put not only in houses but also on barns and granaries, which proves how important those building were.

House facade in Low Land, fot. pomorskie.travel

- You are the Low Land passionate. Which places to visit do You recommend most?

- It is worth visiting Nowy Dwór Gdanski first, called the capital of Low Land. There is a Low Land Museum here, so the Low Land Historical Park, where You can learn more about the region. It is a must to have a ride on the narrow gage railway. In open-air wagons we may get from Nowy Dwor Gdanski to Mierzeja Wislana.

I usually take tourists or journalists to Nowy Staw, where we have two market squares and a characteristic tower in a shape of a pencil and a tower of a former evangelical church. You have to try a delicious blueberry cake there.

Windmill in Palczewo, fot: M.Bieliński

Also recommend to visit Palczewo, where there is a small, wooden church and an example of a Dutch windmill. That church is really unique . It is quite ordinary from the outside but the interior is beautifully painted. There are old organs there as well, which are still in use. And the sound which comes out of this instrument is remarkable and You can get goose-flesh and be really moved.

The joinery in Olesnie is also worth mentioning. This is the place which was designed by the citizens themselves, who designed the nice space in the barn.It is used for the cultural events, the library and sleeping facilities.

Low Land is the area of the windmills and many villages, which were the witnesses if the history.

- Zulawki and Drewnica are examples of such spaces, which we can call living open air museums due the fact, there are many artefacts there. We can mention the arcaded housesthe Low Land business card. It is worth mentioning Trutnowy and Marynowy villages, where You can find examples of those. In Cyganek, You can have really good dinner. In Maly Holender You can get meat soup or Mennonite soup. You can also try the local cheese , including the classical, produced according to the pre-war recipe “Werdekase”.

If we search for the old windmills, You can still find two, the most famous in Palczewo and Zulawki. Generally, it is worth visiting Low Land villages. Those are really unique places with a climate, a soul.

The arcaded house in Zulawki, fot: pomorskie.travel

When You mention souls… Low Land cemeteries, that is history itself.

    - If someone is interested in a grave art, You really have to visit the cemetery in Stogi, near MAlbork. It is the biggest, well maintained and well known Mennonite cemetery in Low Land. The cemetery in Stawiec,  on the other hand, is smaller, but with more climate. Mennonite tombs are unique. They are rich with ornaments connected with symbols. The old church ruins are also worth mentioning, like those in Fiszewo or Steblewo.

Are Low Land mainly rural area?

   - Rural and farming. Those are the main landscapes here, where human and the nature are so tightly connected with each other, that image stays in our minds. This landscape is very dissimilar, depending on the season of the year. You can discover this area again and again – depending on the nature.

Low land isthe area full of surprises and mysteries. Discovering them is truly a great fun and adventure.

From the Teutonic chicken to Mennonite sausage

- People worked hard in the past in  Żuławy (low land), so the food was greasy and in big quantities. There was also an alcohol – beer and strong vodkas. Many times in old memories there is  a story of a bottle of Machandel put at the end of the field – so the work in the field would go faster – says Marek Opitz, expert and the passionate of Low Land, the director of Nowy Dwor Passionate Association, called “Klub Nowodworski”, the owner od the arcaded house “Little Dutchman” in Zelichowo.

Pomorskie.tarvel: - Today, we want to talk about the Low Land kitchen…

Marek Opitz: -   To know more about he kitchen in Low Land , We have to know more about the Low Land, the youngest part of Poland, development first. We can treat this area as a big opened book where every generation left something from themselves.

 

Pomorskie.travel: - So, let’s start form the Teutonic times.

Marek.Opotz: - I would mention a black chicken (chicken rubbed with gingerbread, roasted black and turned into ashes) served, along with medieval tradition with spices. But poultry is one just thing. Second is fish. The Vistula Lagoon was controlled by the Teutonic Order and the Fishing Master.

Fish always have been part of Żuławy cuisine, on the photo  herring prepared for smoking, fot. Marek Opitz

In the castle of Szkarpawa he checked the catch of fish and divided them. For example, sturgeon was transported to Gdansk markets and Malbork castle, where it was marinated, smoked and salted. The records prove that there were special sheds where the sturgeon masters worked… What’s more the village names show that there were really a lot of crayfish here as well – Rakowe pole (Crayfish Filed), Rakowiska (Crayfish Area) or Rakowo (Crayfish Place).

Pomorksie.travel: - Going forward while talking about the Low Land kitchen, we have to mention Mennonites…

Marek Opitz: - Along with the religion tolerance development in XVI c. Low Land became the place where Mennonites settled. Thanks to them the cheese and alcohol production develop.

Stobbes Machandel - juniper vodka produced by the mennonite Stobbe family. Fot. Marek Opitz

Those who came from the Netherlands were famous from special cheese production, called “podpuszczkowy cheese”. Those, who came from the Northern Germany, especially Stobbe Family, were famous form producing famous juniper drink – “Machandel”.

Sampler with cheese werderkase. Fot. Marek Opitz

Mennonites were also sausage experts. They added the best pork and beef meat. There was an old saying that is something is really good, it is as good as the Mennonite sausage. Thanks to Mennonites there are also so many kinds of fruit trees here (so unusual for this part of Europe). Mennonite leaders ordered to plant the fruit trees, so people had a lot of jams and marmalades and famous apple butter – made in a similar way as the lump jam. Till today there is a apple butter competition organised in Canada.

The variety of flavors of Żuławy cuisine was also apreciated by Karol Okrasa. Fot. Marek Opitz
 

Pomorskie.travel: - After eating such Mennonite sausage, You had to drink something probably…

Marek Opitz: - Since the Teutonic times every farmer brewed his own beer, we know that from old drawings. In a household registers there are usually a copper boiler to brew beer. The local beer production was so huge, that Gdansk and Elblag forbidden to brew beer at home, except the harvesting time. Reading the old XIX c. newspapers, We know that in Nowy Dwor Gdanski, called before the WWII Tiegenhof, there were “Kozlak” beer competition organised. It was strong 6, 7 % alcohol beer, known from XVII c from Einveck in Lower Saxony.

Brewing beer at home was the domain of almost every host. On the photo old beer bottles.  Fot. Marek Opitz

Pomorskie.travel; - What about the Low Land deserts?

Marek Opitz; - We have to mention the marzipan and the gingerbread. Till today in the Marzipan Museum in Lubeck, You can admire the cake forms from Low Land and in the Ethnographic Museum in Torun, a gingerbread form from Nowy Dwor Gdanski – the capital of Low Land.

 Marzipan cookies from Żuławy. Fot. Marek Opitz

Pomorskie.travel: - Is the Low Land kitchen still alive?

Marek Opitz: - Today, as more people, who live here are ware of their local identity, they want to have their kitchen, too and as You see we have ready recipes and inspiration. There are culinary books being published, for example “Low Land Culinary” by Artur Wasilewski as well as regular culinary competitions organised by the Low Land Association in Trutnowy. A very good inspiration are alos books by Bogdan Galazka from “Gothic” restaurant in Malbork Castle or Low Land climate in Cedrowy Dworek restaurant oi Cedry Wielkie. A big promotion of a local kitchen is done by the Rural Ladies Associations, who offer their food during the festivals, fairs and harvesting time. “Zulawskie Smaki” concentrate the Low Land food producers, which are “as good as Mennonite sausage”. Important role has also Low Land Museum, promoting the food with the kitchen and machandel exhibitions. For many years, we also have a feast of “The day of Settlers”, organised by the Nowy Dwor Club.

Old kitchen in Museum of  Żuławy in Nowy Dwór Gdański. Fot. Marek Opitz

Pomorksie.travel: - Many restaurants appreciate now the old recipes and traditional Low Land kitchen. You, as the owner of “The Little Dutchmen” think the same.

Marek Opitz: - “The Little Dutchmen” appreciate old tradition and promotes the Low Land kitchen. In a saved and moved old, arcaded house for  Zelichowo, we have a restaurant, where every dish has its history and inspiration. Starting from the baked sturgeon, goose form the bread oven, dumplings with geese, Werderkase cheese, kings meat and meat soup according to the recipe of our former neighbour, Mr. Andreas and the cheesecake recipe of our grandmother Agata from Brzesc. When we add 15 kinds of local beer and the machandel, we have a typical, traditional Low Land kitchen, a combination of different history generations. It is a big satisfaction to bring the Low Land its food tradition back – like for example the story with the Werderkase cheese, which original recipe we tried for two years. Our effort was appreciated during the culinary market in Lodz, but he most important for us are our clients opinions’  - elderly Mennonite ladies, who recognised among many others, our Werderkase cheese, as the one they remembered form their childhood. We managed to reconstruct the recipe of that cheese thanks to our hard work in archives, simplicity and the processional support of the cheese master, Krzysztof Jaworski and dairy in Skarszewy.

Tasting regional cheeses in  Mały Holender. Fot. Marek Opitz

We invite You to the “Little Dutchmen”from May till November. Food for the groups we recommend to book in advance, as well as the culinary lessons of making cheese, beer and how to recognise wild growing plants.