Recipes from food stylist Nicolas Ghirlando: Fish fingers to Friday nights.

Mizeria Loves Company

mizeria-Polish-cucumber-salad

Bee’s much loved Uncle Wodeck, whom I never met, is famous round here for his mizeria. For her, it’s the equivalent of Proust’s madeleines. For me it’s an impossible task to recreate this seemingly simple cucumber salad. I’m not just making a dish, I’m trying to make someone else’s memory of time, place and people come alive on a plate.

However, not letting that get in my way, I made it and thought it was delicious. Not as good, apparently, according to some, but fine. Maybe there was a missing secret ingredient in the original, like a hidden Polish sausage. Legend varies on whether he used sour cream, cream or perhaps smetana. With information like that being fed to me, it’s like they want me to fail.

It’s very quick to make (maybe that’s where I’m going wrong, perhaps I need to slowly slice the cucumber with a scalpel and add salt with tweezers) but it improves if you leave it in the fridge for an hour or so to let the flavours develop. If you don’t like cucumber, this is probably not a good thing. In which case, go and read a different recipe.

Ingredients
1 cucumber, sliced as thin as is humanly possible. I used a Japanese mandoline
2tbsp chopped fresh dill
1tbsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice
4tbsp sour cream. Or cream. Or smetana. Or some magic unobtainable ingredient from the past
A pinch of salt

Method
Sprinkle salt over the cucumber in a colander and leave it to sit for about 15 minutes.
Squeeze the cucumber dry then mix with the dill, vinegar and cream. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary then cover and leave to rest in the fridge for about an hour. Longer if you want.

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