The Kitchen and The Cuisine

Cooked pigeons (gołąbki), duck blood, chicken feet, cow guts, pig tails, pig tongues, pig lard, and sour milk are just a few of the appetizing treats I’ve tried since I’ve been here in Poland – delicious! But they weren’t always tasty. Some of these exotic treats made me want to throw up at just the thought of it, but some didn’t. I fell in love with duck blood soup right from the get go.

First of all, the kitchen is the physical place with a fridge and an oven. Cuisine is the actual food the nation cooks and represents. I just had to say that for those who make that common mistake. Oh, and a chef is the person who cooks the food in the kitchen. The person who points their finger and tells other people what to do at work is the boss.

The Bin

A quick note about the kitchens in Poland: if I ever need to throw some rubbish in the bin, I always know where to look – under the sink. At first it was mystery to me, because in England we usually have our rubbish bins on display in one of the corners of the kitchen, usually with a flapping lid or with a button that opens the lid. We are proud of our bins. Bin, not basket, by the way. A basket is what we use when we go shopping, or the hoop and net used for basketball.

Polish Food

The cuisine in Poland is very different to that in England. When I came to Poland, I hated kielbasa. What? But how? Yes, that’s right, I hated kielbasa. Polish sausage is nothing like English sausage, and I love English sausage. However, I’ve come to love kielbasa, especially smoked kielbasa. But nothing beats a sizzling kielbasa hanging over the open flames of a crackling bonfire, surrounded by good company. I also remember the first time I saw tatar. It looked like Bruce Lee had punched and pulled out somebody’s heart, and then crushed it into a pulp, sprinkled with chopped and diced onion and sour cucumber, then smothered in egg yolk. The taste? Amazing!

Other tradional Polish cuisine I love is ‘pierogi’. I can eat pierogi at the table like popcorn at the cinema. You’d better prepare a lot of pierogi for Wigilia because you never know who that unexpected guest might be. Speaking of eating a lot, isn’t your Polish hospitality just wonderful? Anywhere I go as a guest I just feel so welcome. In Spain they say mi casa es su casa, meaning my home is your home, but in Poland it’s more like my home is your all-you-can-eat buffet. And when you’re full, ready to pop full, that’s when good old ‘babcia’ strongly insists you eat some more. “Just a little bit,” they say, and then scoop a spadeful onto your plate. Their argument is that a big strong man needs to eat a lot. Well, I guess that makes me a big strong man then? Bring on the smalec!

My favourite dish? It was given to me roughly after a year of being in Poland. My mother-in-law had made it. I remember when it was placed on the table in front of me; it was chocolate brown. It tasted absolutely delicious. I was then told that it was a Polish soup named ‘czarnina’. Okay, cool. Then I was told that it was made from the blood of a duck. My reaction? Okay, cool. That didn’t put me off at all; it was too delicious. To this day my mother-in-law still makes me czarnina, and every time I ask for more . If my mother-in-law was putting the ‘czarna polewka’ legend into practice – and I don’t think she was – it definitely backfired.

We Eat Differently, Very Differently

We do have very different ways of eating our food sometimes. I’ve been here for almost a decade, and still every single time I eat a ham, cheese and tomato sandwich – the Polish way – the sliced tomato always, always slides off the sandwich, and if I’m lucky it splashes back onto my plate instead of my trousers. Our sandwiches are always eaten the hamburger way: double sliced. But the bread here is much better!

Speaking of bread, I have to say that I’m rather disappointed with the kebabs here, or should I say ‘beef roll (bułka wołowy)’. In England, we are served with rich-tasting pita bread stuffed with lamb meat, and always. always a juicy green chilli pepper to spice things up.  And of course, some greasy-fat chips on the side. I also don’t understand how, just how, how and why can I not find a place where I can put some vinegar on my chips? I love vinegar on my chips. “Vinegar, I miss you! I miss you so much!”

One thing I’ll never understand about Polish people is how they cringe when I tell them that I love salt and vinegar crisps. Yes, that’s right, I love salt and vinegar crisps. I even put them in my sandwiches. Did you cringe? How can you cringe when you boldly eat ‘flaki’. Czarnina I can understand, but flaki? Anyway, as disgusting as the idea of it is, it’s another one of my favourite soups. If anyone I know in England is reading this, I hope they never find out what ‘flaki’ is.

Now I’ve heard that ‘gołąbki’ aren’t really cooked pigeons, but can I really trust that to be true?


Rob Wolff


appetizing treats – apetyczne smakołyki

delicious – pyszne

tasty – smaczny

right from the get go – od razu

nation – naród

common mistake – typowy / popularny błąd

points their finger – wskazuje palec

tells other people what to do – mówić innym, co mają robić

boss – szef

rubbish – śmieci

sink – zlew

mystery – zagadka

on display – na wystawie

flapping lid – trzepotająca pokrywa

proud – dumny

smoked – wędzony

sizzling – skwierczący

flames – płomienie

crackling bonfire – strzelające ognisko

surrounded by good company – otoczony przez dobre towarzystwo

crushed it into a pulp – zmiażdżyło ją w miąższu

sprinkled – posypane

chopped and diced –  pokrojone w kostkę

unexpected guest – niespodziewany gość

hospitality – gościnność

wonderful – wspaniale

guest – gość

feel so welcome – czuć się bardzo mile widzianym

insist – nalegać

spade – łopata

Bring on the…! – Dawaj…!

roughly – około

mother-in-law – teściowa

put me off – obrzydzić mnie

at all – w ogóle

backfired – nie wypalił

sliced – pokrojony

slides off – zsuwa

splash – ochlapać

double sliced – podwójnie krojone

instead (of) – zamiast

vinegar – ocet

cringe – krzywić się

boldly – śmiele

find out – dowiedzieć się

trust – zaufać


Rob Wolff


2 thoughts on “The Kitchen and The Cuisine

  1. As a Polish person, who lived in England for 4 years, I absolutely fell in love in your blog! It’s just amazing to find out how it works the other way around. Good luck and smacznego 🙂


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