Kociewie’s food is a product of various tastes, and the cuisine itself is not uniform. The menu in the forests differed from that near the rivers and lakes, with still-different customs in the lowlands. For many years the Polish countryside was self-sufficient, and own livestock, feed and forests served as sources of food. The menu of villagers was not very diversified. It was dominated by plant products, primarily vegetables, fruit, and bread (home-baked), undergrowth, and dairy produce. In seaside regions and villages located by the banks of stocked lakes fish were an important element of the diet. As for meat, the most popular was pork, but mutton and beef were also eaten. It was definitely due to the fact that pork is the easiest to process. Ham, similar to other cured meat, was made in Pomerania at the slaughter of pigs, which was performed mainly for important church holidays (Easter and Christmas) and significant family events (baptisms and weddings). The pig was shared out according to the kind of meat. People tried to put every bit to use, making ham, sausage, blood sausage, liverwurst, brawn. Bones were left for soups. Meat was preserved by salting and smoking. Pork was used in Kociewie to make kisza mięsna (blood sausage) that may be compared to a combination of raw-meat sausage and Polish sausage. A staple supplement to meals was pork fat – raw or smoked, which had to suffice for the entire period between the slaughters. Pork fat was also clarified to make lard. Pork was most often used for pork chops (karbonada), both fried and stewed. It always tasted best with stewed (szmurowana) cabbage. Kociewie people also kept poultry, which gave them a daily ration of eggs. Pâté was also made from poultry, and goose gravy prepared for St. Martin’s day enjoyed particular popularity.
The essential role in food, besides cereals, was played by vegetables, primarily potatoes, beans, cabbage, carrots, and turnips. Cabbage, prepared in a variety of ways, was undoubtedly one of the most popular vegetables in Kociewie’s cuisine. It was made into salads and soups and pickled for winter in large wooden barrels. Two cabbage soups were very popular in Pomerania – parzybroda, made of fresh cabbage, and kapuśniak or szarpak – of pickled cabbage. Szarpak was a very popular soup, easy and quick to prepare.
The basis of each meal in Kociewie was bread, usually wholewheat or rżany, known as śrutowy (rye bread). 3 meals a day was the standard. Hasty pudding was the staple food for breakfast (a milk soup with rye dumplings), chicory coffee and szurane potatoes (purée). Dinner consisted of soup, usually kartoflanka or zalewajka (potato soups), the latter with added sour milk and small dumplings, and the main course was potatoes or dumplings with cabbage, or groats with beans. Meat appeared on Sundays and holidays. Supper again featured milk-based hasty pudding and potatoes with roux. It was a common practice to prepare supper with fried potatoes that were left after dinner.
The sweet delicacies of Kociewie people were all kinds of yeast cakes. They baked kołaczek (round cake), szneka z glancem (iced sweat rolls), kuchy (cakes), kuszki (cookies), purcle (buttery rolls), pómle (doughnuts), and ruchanki (fritters). Cakes were decorated with sweet crumble toppings, with added fruit – apples, pears, plums, berries. The true test of culinary skills in terms of baking cakes was Easter. Women made yeast baba cakes, and in well-to-do houses mazurkas (dried fruit cake).
Recently the people of Kociewie have been very eager to have their dishes included in the list of traditional products. It already features about 30 various meals from that land.