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Jakarta Post

Food diplomacy the Tatar way

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

  /   Sun, June 28, 2015   /  11:47 am
Food diplomacy the Tatar way

Dzenetta Bogdanowicz has become famous as '€œthe ambassador of the Tatar community'€. Serving traditional home cooking, even British Prince Charles stopped by her Tatar house in Kruzniany, a small town in the eastern part of Poland, to get a taste of her famous dishes.

The wooden house is located just across from the Tatar mosque, which was being repainted to welcome Ramadhan. Kruzniany is located 50 kilometers from Bialystok and the area is close to the border of Belarus. Visitors have to pass a forest on their way to the small town where they can hope to possibly meet some European bison. Unfortunately, it rarely happens.

Arriving at Bogdanowicz'€™s house, we were ushered in to sit at a table big enough for 10 people. She proudly said that the table hosted Prince Charles during his visit five years ago. The 56-year-old claimed she was not a trained restaurateur. She inherited all the Tatar food recipes from her grandmother and mother.

'€œI just want to welcome all people to our home,'€ Bogdanowicz answered when she was asked why she opened up her house to visitors.

Upon learning that we came from Indonesia, she quickly reached for a kopiah (a typical hat for an Indonesian male) and showed it to us. '€œYour ambassador came several years ago,'€ she said through an interpreter.

Bogdanowicz then served us numerous dishes starting with pink cold soup, which was made of yoghurt, cabbage and egg, and moving on to pierekaczwnik (baked turkey), potato cake, chebureki (pastel-like with stuffed meat) and listkowiec (yeast cake with poppy seeds), which was best served with Tatar coffee.

Although many tourists come to visit Kruzniany to see the Tatar community, their population is decreasing as many of the young generation opt to work outside of Poland.

The Tatar people came to this area more than three centuries ago as they were settled here by King John III Sobieski of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The mosque and the nearby Muslim cemeteries make Kruzniany an interesting site for those who want to experience the reason why this place has become an important symbol of the Tatar community'€™s adaptation into the Polish-Belarusian environment.

Bogdanowicz said that she would not provide a special menu for Ramadhan since most of her guests were non-Muslims. On Aug. 8, the Tatar community will hold an annual Sabantuj and Ogolnopolski Festiwal Kuchni Tatarskiej (all-Polish Festival of Tatar Cuisine) when members of the Tatar community from outside Kruzniany will attend.

As for her personal goals, Bogdanowicz said that she would continue praying and fasting as obliged by her religion despite the long summer days. '€œI will try my best,'€ she said, with her famous warm smile.

'€” JP/Primastuti Handayani

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