Край под названием «Жулавы" не имеет аналогов в Польше поскольку имеет почти полностью плоский рельеф. Проезжая по территории дельты королевы польских рек – Вислы можно наблюдать разноцветные прямоугольные поля, и только изредка пейзаж меняют наклонившиеся над каналами ивы. Однако то, что является простым и монотонным в действительности является краем удивительно динамичным, с идеальной взаимосвязью человека с природой. Сельскохозяйственный характер Жулав подчёркивают деревни, построенные ещё в соответствии с планами Тевтонского ордена, а живописно расположенные кладбища меннонитов напоминают о переселенцах из Нидерландов, живущих в этих областях.

Площадь Жулав составляет более 1740 км², 450 км² из которой  - это районы расположенные ниже уровня моря. В деревне Рачки Эльблонгские находится точка, расположенная 1,8 м ниже уровня моря — это самая низкая точка в Польше. На территории Жулав и по соседству находятся большие города, такие как Новы Двор Гданьски, Тчев, Мальборк и Трёхградье. Характерной особенностью Жулав является положение района ниже уровня моря,  а следовательно, большая  возможность затопления. Избыток воды регулируют каналы, насыпи, мелиорационные рвы и насосы.

Территория Жулав была заселена, вероятно, уже в эпоху бронзы. Следующие века не привели к увеличению поселенцев из-за суровых природных условий. Болотная местность и постоянная угроза затопления эффективно сдерживали потенциальных переселенцев. Ситуация изменилась под властью Тевтонского ордена. Они начали осушать территорию, строить дамбы и каналы. Это повлияло на то, что район Жулав начал заселяться.  Была начата рубка леса и возделывание земли. Уже в XV веке местные жители должны были обязательно проводить мелиорацию территории. В  XVI веке в Жулавы прибыли из Нидерландов меннониты, которые поселившись здесь, принесли с собой свои традиции и культуру. Кроме них в Жулавах функционировали иные культуры, такие как поморская, крестоносская, немецкая, польская, а после II Мировой войны также украинская, которую принесли выходцы из южных районов довоенной Польши.  Конец II Мировой войны оказался  катастрофой для Жулав. В 1945 году отступающая немецкая армия уничтожила большую часть дамб и насосов, что вызвало наводнение в этом районе. Послевоенные годы  - это время огромного труда, вложенного в осушение Жулавских земель,  куда начали прибывать поселенцы из глубины страны.

Среди памятников в Жулавах стоит выделить красивые костёлы с характерной деревянной башней, сводчатые (аркадные) дома и прекрасно расположенные кладбища меннонитов, а  также систему расположения строений в деревнях ещё со времён средневековья. Стоит также отправиться на прогулку по исторической узкоколейной железной дороге,  в рейс по рекам и каналам Жулавской Петли, посетить Жулавский Исторический парк или пройти по меннонитскому маршруту.

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.