Massive monument honouring legendary canned fish spread erected in Szczecin
A huge monument honouring a legendary canned fish dish from the Communist times has appeared in the port city of Szczecin.
Created by local photographer Bogusław Dyjek and unveiled by former workers at the factory where it was produced, the enormous can of Paprykarz Szczeciński was revealed on the city’s Gryfitów square, named after the factories and processing plants where the spread was made.
Produced from 1967, during its heyday the iconic Paprykarz Szczeciński consisting of fish, rice, onion, tomato concentrate, vegetable oil, spices and salt, was exported to 32 countries.
According to local legend, the idea for the cheap and filling dish came from sailors and reefer ships technicians who encountered a similar food, cold chop-chop, in the ports of Western Africa.
The taste, which changed a simple fish pulp into a delicacy, was based on the Nigerian spice called ‘pima’. It was similar to Hungarian paprika, hence the name of the dish. The original recipe was completed by adding tomatoes imported from Hungary and Romania.
The recipe underwent various transformations, often forced by shortages caused by the Communist’s centrally-managed economy.
During some of PRL’s crises, it is said that flippers and fishbone were used instead of pure meat, and groats instead of rice.
During the national conference on the Polish United Workers’ Party in 1968, it was proudly presented by communist dignitaries.
Before his death in April this year, one of the creators of the dish, Bogusław Borysowicz, told local news service Głos Szczeciński: “It was a rationalizing idea, we wanted to use the cuttings from frozen fish.
“Our technologists tried local dishes in various ports during their journeys. They also looked for original spices. Once they came across a local delicacy called ‘chop-chop’.
“After returning to Poland, Jakacki [Wojciech Jakacki, deputy director at the Gryf company – TFN] probably asked the girls in the laboratory if they could produce it.
“They experimented, they figured out the right recipe, and since the laboratory was on a very high level, they succeeded.”
In spite of its lasting success, no one thought of trade marking the food and the product went out of production in Szczecin during the nineties, although several companies around Poland still prepare their own versions.
In 2010, the canned fish dish was officially included in Szczecin’s List of Traditional Product and gained legal protection.
Posting on Facebook, the monument’s creator and Paprykarz Szczeciński fan, Bogusław Dyjek, wrote simply “The story of one can” alongside photos of him and his pals putting the installation together.