Lucius Licinius Lucullus, the self-indulgent Roman general, was particularly fond of fig fed ducks. In the Polish recipe, apparently for reason of availability, the exotic fruit was replaced with native apples. Duck with apples, once the dish of choice of the royalty and aristocracy, today is served in Polish restaurants.

The chefs of Wielkopolska take special credit for promoting duck delicacies. Darek Pazikowski, Master Chef at Warsaw's Grand Hotel, marinates duck meat according to a recipe he found in an old cookery book, in clear, ruby-coloured trójniak mead, the finest of liquors, once kept only in royal wine cellars. It gives the meat extra tenderness and an exceptional flavour.

So prepared, the duck is served with a sauce made of mashed red bilberry and apples. Young, six-month-old ducks are most delicious, especially when accompanied by fresh early autumn apples. Assuming there is a typically Polish way of garnishing duck dishes, it would certainly be with apples. Slightly sourish, rather unremarkable apples of certain old varieties rare in other parts of the world are still grown in Poland. They seem to be a perfect match for Lucullus' favourite fowl.

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