As I started exploring my Polish food memories, there was a moment when I realized many Polish dish names have pretty negative associations.
Let’s take “Mizeria”, a simple dinner side dish, which basically translates to “Misery”. Mizeria consists of two main ingredients. Sour cream and green cucumbers. That’s it. The sour cream was sometimes swapped for similar dairy products like kefir, buttermilk or yogurt, if they were available. Or some people used heavy cream instead. To add a boost of vitamins and flavor, my mom liked to add fresh herbs, like dill, and some garlic. But the general recipe really couldn’t have been any more basic, relying on whatever was inexpensive or on-hand. I guess that’s why it was called “Mizeria”— it was essentially a dish of the poor.
Looking back, I suppose a lot of my meals were pretty “miserable”, as Mizeria was a common accompaniment to meat and potatoes, especially during summer’s cucumber season.
So here is the recipe celebrating my “miserable” youth.
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 6 Persian or pickling cucumbers (thinly sliced, if you use pickling cucumbers you should peel them)
- 1 cup whole milk yogurt (can be substituted with kefir, buttermilk or sour cream)
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 clove garlic (pressed or finely chopped)
- 1 tsp dill (finely chopped)
- sea salt
- ground pepper
Now follow these steps:
- In a medium bowl, combine sliced cucumbers, yogurt, lemon zest, dill and garlic.
- Season with salt, pepper.
- Serve chilled as side dish with warm baby potatoes (also perfect as a dip for pita bread).