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.
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.
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?
LEARN MY LANGUAGE
VOCABULARY – SŁOWNICTWO
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
LEARN MY LANGUAGE