Now, maybe more than ever in history, the taste for ‘’delicious’’ meals varies greatly from person to person. And although the idea of using animal blood for food like czernina grosses some people out, others will find it interesting - which is why it’s good to get to know more about Polish duck blood soup.
The use of animal blood in food
Numerous cultures in Europe and Asia (but also found elsewhere) use animal blood in their cuisines. Most of the dishes that use the blood as an ingredient have a very long history and are a part of a culture, as is so with Polish czernina.
As blood is a byproduct of slaughtering, sometimes even referred to as ‘’liquid meat’’ due to its composition, it is not a surprise that people have found a way to use it instead of just throwing it away.
In Poland, animal blood was used and is still to this day, as an ingredient to a soup with strong. traditional symbolism.
So if you ever find yourself in a Polish house and you are being served czernina, it is good to know the meaning behind the dish:
Duck blood soup in Polish is called czernina (char-NEE-nah) or czarnina or, as it is most commonly known - czarna polewka. The dish was named so after the dark, almost black color it comes in. The use of duck or goose blood (sometimes of even other animals used for consumption) is what makes it a dish of a very specific taste as well as the meaning behind it.
And although different Polish regions used different names for it (as mentioned above), it is a big part of the Polish tradition nationwide.
As it was a custom for the groom to visit the desired bride’s side of the family to ask for their ‘’hand in marriage’’, accompanied by a matchmaker. Sometimes the circumstances were so that the family would not agree to their proposal of the groom. So, to avoid offending the matchmaker, whose services would be needed in the future, the family of the bride would serve czernina.
Apart from this occasion, this soup has always been recommended as a remedy for those that need a bit of a pick-up, like after an illness or an active day.
interested in trying out the duck blood soup recipe? Well, just like any other traditional recipe, there is no one perfect ‘’measure’’ for czernina. Every Polish family has their own idea for making the best duck blood soup, but if you are feeling like giving it a try, you can use the most basic advice and then go from there.
Tamara Bosak Djordjevic
½ cup of vinegar for every 2 cups of duck blood you use
3 pounds of duck meat
2 cups of prunes
1 bay leaf, a bit of marjoram
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups of milk
4 tablespoons of flour
Make sure you mixed blood with vinegar before use so that the blood won’t clot. Place duck meat in a pot, add water, and bring to a boil. You can then add spices and lower the heat, letting the meat cook for a while, until it softens nicely. Then, add prunes and keep the pot cooking for about an hour. Once the time is up, you can let the broth cool down.
Meanwhile, pour the milk into a bowl, add flour, a few spoons of the cooled-down broth, blood with vinegar, and mix it all in order to get a smooth texture. Then, pour the mixture into the pot with duck meat and keep cooking for about half an hour.
Enjoy your czernina zupa! Smacznego!
P.S. If you prefer, you can look for ready-made options in Polish shops or restaurants.
What ‘’strange’’ dish do you find to be in your family’s tradition?