The Polish name for cucumbers in sour cream is mizeria literally meaning "misery." Read how mizeria got its name, below.
This easy and delightful, cooling salad is anything but miserable. It's a great accompaniment to pork, ham, chicken, fish and just about anything.
Choose thin cucumbers with small seeds or the seedless variety. Dress this just before serving so the dish doesn't become watery. Traditionally, vinegar is used in the dressing but it may thin it out too much. It's included as an optional ingredient so the choice is yours.
Marinate the Cucumbers
- Run a channel knife or fork down the length of the cucumbers to produce a pretty edge, and slice thinly.
- Place in a colander over a bowl to catch the juices and salt the cucumbers liberally. Allow to stand for 30 minutes.
Make the Dressing
- While the cucumbers are marinating, make the dressing. In a small bowl, mix together sour cream, sugar, optional vinegar, and dill until well blended.
- Refrigerate covered until ready to assemble the salad.
Assemble the Salad
- Pat cucumbers dry and place in a medium bowl. Add the dressing and toss with the cucumber slices. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
- Chill until very cold and sprinkle with additional dill, if desired, before serving.
Note: Another popular summertime recipe using cucumbers is Polish cucumber-beet soup. It has a brilliant magenta color and the buttermilk, sour cream and hard-cooked eggs it's made with slakes the thirst. It is often poured into a glass and consumed as a beverage.
How Mizeria Got Its Name
The name of this dish is attributed to Queen Bona Sforza, an Italian princess who married Polish King Sigismund I in the 16th century.
Homesick for her native Italy where cucumbers were common, every time she ate it, it made her cry. Hence the Polish word for "misery," derived from the Latin.
Queen Bona Sforza Introduced Veggies to Poland
Other than cabbage and root vegetables, veggies were virtually unknown in Poland until 1518 when Queen Bona Sforza married the widowed Polish King Sigismund I (Zygmunt) and introduced them to her new homeland.
Many Polish words for vegetables, in fact, are taken directly from Italian -- kalafiory (cauliflower), pomidory (tomatoes) and sałata (lettuce), for example. To this day, soup greens are known as włoszczyzna or "Italian stuff," włoski being the Polish word for "Italian."