We are in Poland, a country near and far away at the same time. What adventures are waiting there? Today we are starting our tour on the Krutynia, the most beautiful paddling river in Europe. Today we want to see what the polish people have to offer to eat!
Poland has a turbulent history, but his cousine always disregarded. Torn between great powers, but self-confident. Poland is a country worth discovering. But a vacation is not only worthwhile because of the beautiful landscape and the great sights - the food in Poland is also an absolute highlight.
Not that the cuisine here is world famous like the Italian, French or at least known like the Chinese or the Spanish! No.
The most unknown cousine
99.9 percent of the world's population have never heard of the most famous Polish dishes, 99.99 percent have never eaten them. But in Poland, which 40 years ago had the reputation of being so poor that people had to eat dry bread, people today eat particularly well and with pleasure. And varied.
This is because the country not only has the influences of its own original culinary traditions, but also numerous other influences that promise a wide range of dishes: From the east comes the Russian cousine, from the south the Czech, from the west the German and from the north inspiration from the Baltic region.
Therefore, Polish cuisine is a delicious mixture of everything and many things, all ingredients are mostly from the immediate surroundings and the products are rich and colorful, while the meat is tender. People like to eat hearty, with very, very large portions. And has no less to drink with it.
Poor people, good food
Funnily enough, this has something to do with the fact that Poland has actually always been poor. No one here couldn't afford imported convenience foods, frozen foods from Western Europe or burgers from America for a very long time.
But no one misses all that in view of the local alternatives, which are more colorful than almost anywhere else. Because Poland's cuisine is rural and dignified, it is imaginative and it knows only one basic rule: it must taste good.
And that's what barszcz and bigos, flaki and pierogi, as the traditional local dishes are called, make every Pole, no matter how cosmopolitan, immediately think of his childhood and grandma's cooking. These old treasures have never been forgotten. Only since a short time Polish cooks have begun to focus on the standard dishes of world cuisine: pizza and burgers, rice and sushi.
Traditionally, however, in addition to vegetables and fish, potatoes and white bread are among the main foods, which are combined with meat, mostly pork or beef. But: Within the country there are great regional differences in the preparation of the same dishes, because cooking is rarely done according to a recipe, but rather by eye.
After all, the post-communist period had offered plenty of opportunity for culinary discoveries from elsewhere. In the meantime, there are chefs who are rediscovering Krautschmortöpfe, tripe soup and their entire heritage and, with passion, skill and creativity, turning them into trendy slow food, i.e. consciously slow eating and enjoying.
The worlds biggest schnitzels
Probably nowhere in the world are schnitzels as big as they are here, and they are certainly not as juicy. The pizzas are topped as if the hunger times of the 80s still had to be compensated for. And anyone who orders fish here, fresh from one of the countless stalls that can be found mainly on the flat land, should leave it at one. That's how big the individual specimens are.
Whether it's the cold summer soup with pansy blossoms, colored bright pink by cream and beet, or the baked pike-perch, its crispy skin gleaming golden: everything looks so beautiful that one almost hardly dares to destroy it with a spoon, fork or knife. But once the first bite tickles the palate, there's no turning back.
The outside is not so important to the taste buds. Now the inner values of the dish count.
The freshness of products
You can taste the freshness of the products from which it is cooked. Most of the ingredients come from producers in the area. On the coast there is herring, in the country hish, venison and wild boar.
But whether it's fish, vegetables or meat, it's important to Polish chefs that everything tastes like itself first and foremost. Here they roast and boil, but always in such a way that the flavorful character remains recognizable. No big sauces on top, no huge salad plates to go with it.
The country's cuisine offers plenty to try out, even without borrowing from elsewhere. Over the course of time, Polish, Jewish, German, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, and even Tatar food and cooking traditions have been mixed together.
A queen from Italy
Influences from the Orient came through the trade in spices. Cooking know-how from Western cultures was provided by the contact of the monasteries and, from 1518, by Poland's Queen Bona Sforza, who came from Italy. Under the Enlightenment leader Stanislaus II August Poniatowski, recipes from France reached Poland in the 18th century.
The good old Polish pierogi (dumplings filled with meat, potatoes, mushrooms or cabbage), originally from Ukraine, are experiencing a renaissance, as are the specialties of the Polish Tatars such as sebzeli (pierogi with vegetables), manty (steamed dumplings filled with meat or cheese) or pierekaczewnik (filled puff pastry).
The cult here is the potato. In many regions of Poland, the cuisine revolves around the potato. The popular potato cake and potato sausage even have their own world championship in Suprasl. But the starchy tuber is also served in the form of potato pancakes and potato-filled dumplings.
Much calorie bombs
The most popular sweet sins are sekacz (Lithuanian tree cake) and marcinek cake, a calorie bomb made of many thin layers of dough and thick layers of cream. A typical dairy product is round raw milk cheese from Korycin (Ser korycinski swojski).
But the most famous product from Podlasie is Zubrówka , the buffalo grass vodka from Belovezh. It was named after the heraldic animal of the voivodeship, the bison, which is called "zubr" in Polish. It was invented as early as the 17th century. Its distinctive taste of fresh hay and woodruff is given to the 40-percent rye spirit by the fragrant lady's grass (Hierochloe odorata) native to the forests of Podlaskie.
A stalk in every bottle
A stalk of it is in every bottle - just as decoration, but for the taste too. Since 2013, the brand produced in Bialystok has belonged to the Polmos company. In Germany, it is the best-selling flavored vodka. It has been bottled as "Grasovka" in Germany since 1976. But Americans beware! The import of the vodka "Zubrovka Bison Grass" into the USA was banned by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in 1976 because milkweed contains coumarin, which can cause liver damage if consumed in excess.
A few more pictures for you: