Very early tomorrow morning, “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I will be starting our journey to the Baltic Sea in Poland.
Poland is not known for having the best cuisine and to best honest, it’s not the healthiest either, as meals are quite rich in sugar, butter, oil, salt and oil. What it has going for it, is the use of local resources.
Perhaps in the big cities, you’re going to be served passion fruit ice-cream and lemon grass soup, but at the Baltic Sea the thing to go for is seafood and or local produce.
Let’s start with:
• BREAD: In Poland the bakery is called Piekarnia or bread shops and boy do they have a collection of bread in different shapes and sizes. The bread is quite different to what you find in Germany although, it too is brown. It seems to be of a thicker consistency or is enormously sweet. Like cake and similar to French bread. I guess it’s the butter as you don’t seem to need anything else added to it like jam. The brown bread is also eaten in the morning with a huge grilled sausage and sweet mustard or ketchup, and a side cucumber and onion salad.
• CAKE: In Poland, the confectionary or cake shop is called cukiernia. I would personally call it a bakery but apparently, it’s quite different! I have to tell you that Polish cake is rather yummy and filled with lots of cream similar to British cake and very different to that of Germany which is either (to my taste) rather dry, or not considered a cake at all, but a torte.
• Some cakes are Polish classics like Makowiec which is a poppy-seed cake. Not my thing but the locals love it or Paczki which is a type of doughnut-like sticky bun. Really sticky and filled with strawberry jam, a type of custard blancmange, sweet cheese or chocolate spread. There is also Sernik or cheesecake filled with cream cheese and sometimes raisins.
• BISCUITS: Poland has a lot of things available for those who either have a sweet-tooth or just want to snack. Piernik or gingerbread is considered a cake in Poland but I would say it was a gingerbread biscuit. This Piernik is similar to that found in Germany except that it has a filling of chocolate or plum jam.
• What I really like was this floury biscuit called Faworki aka chrust or angel wings. They were quite plain but rather delicious, and made in the shape of a bow-tie!
• FISH: In Poland the fishmonger is known as Sklep Rybny. Being that we’re going to the seaside, you would be a fool not to try out and indeed, take advantage of all that fish and seafood.
Yes, it’s not going to be anything fancy like lobster as this isn’t Rhode Island in New England, USA and neither are you going to get exotic wonders like swordfish, or sushi salami from Japan, or even mouth-watering oysters which are all the rage in France. What you will get is solid good old-fashioned stuff like eel which is later smoked, halibut, trout, pike, mackerel, fried Pangasius fish, sole, tuna, carp, cod, salmon, flounder, turbot and herring.
Most of the fish is either sold straight from the trawlers and fishing boats, or smoked and fried to a deep crispiness, and served with shredded carrot and sauerkraut (white pickled cabbage).
• VEGETABLES: Like other East European countries, the concept of being a vegetarian or indeed a vegan is not well understood or respected.
I remember when I lived in the Czech Republic and I had a group of young British under-graduates in my charge, many of whom were vegetarian. The restaurants that I worked with just didn’t understand what I meant and the most that they could offer was fried cheese covered in batter for lunch and fried cheese covered in batter for dinner.
In those days, the meat was rather dodgy and from unknown don’t-ask-questions-you’re lucky-to-get-any sources, so even though I’m a meat-eater most of us ended up having fried cheese covered in batter for rather a long time, such that I can’t stand fried cheese today! But I digress.
• Mizeria is a simple salad made of sliced fresh cucumber and cream and Ogorki kiszone, known as pickled cucumber or dill pickle, is added as a side dish to almost everything concerning bread and potatoes. It is also used as an appetizer for vodka!
• MEAT PRODUCTS: In Poland, the butcher’s is known as Sklep Miesny. Cold cuts of meat are very popular and are considered staples, eaten with bread or as a quick snack eaten with a cucumber or gherkin pickle. Similar to Germany, there are a wide variety of sausages such as kabanos sausage, kielbasa sausage, and kaszanka, which is black pudding.
• A popular dish is Bigos or hunter’s stew. Bigos is a stewed dish made from cabbage as a main ingredient. Fresh cabbage or pickled white cabbage (sauerkraut), sausage, mushrooms, onions, apple or dried plums and spices. To give an extra punch white wine is usually added and eaten with thickly-cut slices of brown bread.
A well-known dish called pierogi or dumpling is considered to be a national Polish dish and is like a ravioli in that it is stuffed with a variety of fillings such as potatoes, cottage cheese, meat, white cabbage, and mushrooms. Pyzy is another type of dumpling but in small balls made from grated potatoes and often stuffed with meat eaten with pork scratching, sausages, lard or fried onions.
• Another meat product dish is Kotlet schabowy or pork schnitzel similar to that found in Germany or Austria, and of course, goulash made from beef, red bell peppers, tomatoes and onions and served with potato dumplings.
• SOUP: Ah yes, soup. When you think of Polish food, most people tend to automatically think of that most famous of soups – Barszcz czerwony or Borsch. Borsch is a soup made chiefly from beetroot and depending on whether it’s Hungarian, Russian or Polish is served with various vegetables or cream. Traditionally, borscht is served with uszka which is a type of stuffed dumpling or served with sour cream, as most of us know it.
• However, there is also Zurek or Polish sour rye soup which is a traditional soup eaten at Easter. About right now. Great!
I’ve not had this soup yet but I’ve heard that it’s extremely sour and is served in a special hollowed-out round loaf of bread with an enormous hole in the middle of it. A bit like a huge Yorkshire pudding! A hard-boiled egg or a smoked sausage, bacon or ham is sometimes added to the Zurek.
We also mustn’t forget Flaki which is a type of beef tripe soup made from spicy shreds of beef stomach, lots of herbs, and eaten with bread.
As a last note. Waffles.
In Poland, waffles are normally sold at the ice-cream shop or gofrey. Waffles with double-cream and berries covered with sprinkles of hundreds and thousands.
OMG so delicious.
This article is not sponsored and all opinions are my very own. I’ll be in Poland for the week so you can catch me on Twitter.
Watch this space!
Have you ever had Polish food? Did you like it? Would you suggest something that I should try while I’m out there?
If you like this post.