Polish Culture

Must Try Traditional Polish Dishes

So you decided to pay a visit to that mysterious country that lies in the very heart of Europe - Poland. Taking into consideration that the country was pretty much separated from the rest of the world during 50 years of communism, you might wonder - what is there to eat?

Once you start exploring Polish cuisine you will most definitely be surprised. Poland has a lot to offer to people who are looking to challenge their taste buds. If you start digging into Polish traditional recipes, you might come across dishes that you might not even want to try, (soup made of duck blood - anyone?)  but some of them are so delicious that you will simply want more and more. On our food tour in Krakow and Wroclaw, we serve all traditional must try dishes so that you can experience all the dishes once you book a food tour with us.

One of the must try Polish dishes are definitely pierogi, (Polish dumplings). They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are served both on special occasions (like Christmas Eve) and as regular everyday meals. There are tons of different fillings to choose from (meat, potatoes, cottage cheese, lentils, spinach or all kinds of berries if you are a sweet tooth), so it’s difficult to ever get bored of that dish.  The best ones are handmade pierogis that are prepared by an experienced Polish housewife.  If you ever have a chance to pay a visit to a Polish household, try to persuade the lady of the house to prepare that dish for you. Yammi!

credit. Delicious Poland

credit. Delicious Poland

Another interesting dish are placki ziemniaczane (potato pancakes), which in times of economic difficulties in 19th century often replaced bread among the peasants. They are made of grated and ground potatoes, flour and eggs, than deep fried in oil and topped with a variety of condiments. As with pierogis, you can choose between a savoury option (potato pancakes served with sour cream or goulash) or a sweet one (the same potato pancakes served with applesauce or sugar), they may also be served plain. If you’re really hungry, go for the pancakes with goulash. The rich, savory Polish goulash is made from pork and is a perfect topping for that delicious dish.

credit: Delicious Poland

credit: Delicious Poland

You cannot leave Poland without trying traditional Polish soups. The most intriguing ones are Barszcz (the beetroot soup) and Zurek. Barszcz is always served on Christmas Eve in a company of cute little dumplings called “uszka” (which literally means “little ears”); these always have a mushroom and sauerkraut filling. The popularity of borscht has spread throughout Eastern Europe and the former Russian Empire, so you might find different types of borscht in each of the Eastern European countries. The Polish version is made of beets, meat stock, a bit of sugar, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Some recipes consider adding other vegetables like carrots, parsley roots, white cabbage or even tomatoes, but the quintessence of the soup is beetroot, which gives the dish a distinctive red color.

Zurek is quite different. Very popular during Easter, this soup is made of soured rye flour (akin to sourdough) and is served with meat (usually boiled pork sausage or pieces of smoked sausage, bacon or ham). The recipe varies from region to region (in Silesia, for example, people add mashed potatoes to the soup), but most Poles will not accept Zurek without halved hard-boiled egg inside. It’s simply a must!

If during your stay in Poland you somehow end up partying with some Poles, Zurek is then highly recommended the day after - there is no better cure for a hangover!

Credit: Milli Studio

Credit: Milli Studio

Another suggestion for culinary adventurous travellers is “Golabki” ( literally “little pigeons), which are Polish cabbage rolls. To make them you need soft-boiled cabbage leaves and some minced pork or beef. You also need to have skillful hands - the cabbage leaves need to be wrapped around the meat! The meat is not the only delicacy inside the rolls. There is also rice or barley, chopped onions and herbs. The rolls need to be baked in the oven in a casserole dish and served with a creamy tomato sauce.

Poles are definitely creative in the kitchen and are able to create a dish from nothing. A good example of that culinary ability is Bigos. If you need to clean out your freezer and use up leftovers from other meat dishes - make yourself some Bigos! Worth trying if you ever feel nostalgic after your trip to Poland. All you need are assorted kinds of meat chopped into small chunks and a mixture of sauerkraut (pickled cabbage) and shredded fresh white cabbage;  you mix all ingredients and the result is that delicious Polish stew. A couple of good quality shots of vodka and you feel like you’re in Poland again!

 

We are Delicious Poland. We run memorable and personal culinary tours in Krakow, Wroclaw and Warsaw. Join us and experience the tastes of Poland.

5 Facts About Christmas Traditions in Poland That Might Surprise You

Christmas celebration starts in Poland on 24th of December and most of the traditions are connected with Christmas Eve. It's the most special and meaningful day of the year. On 24th of December Poles gather around the table and eat Christmas dinner. After dinner family sits near Christmas tree, sing Christmas carols and exchange gifts. 
Christmas traditions can be different depending on the region. However below you find five most common traditions that are known and practiced in all Poland:


1) 12 dishes: There must be served 12 dishes on Christmas table. Everybody should try every dish, so in the next year nothing will be missing. Number 12 refers to number of the apostles and number of months.

 

2) Meatless dishes: Meat is not served on Christmas Eve in Poland. On the table, you will find mostly fishes, soups (mushroom, beet), various dishes made of potatoes, sauerkraut, mushrooms, dried fruit compote. The most common „Christmas” fish is carp- before Christmas, you can buy in many markets a live carp. Poles keep live carps swimming in the bath for few days and kill it on the day of Christmas Eve. Carp can be served fried, baked or in jelly form.

3) One empty seat: There should be left at least one empty seat with full tableware in every polish home (plate, cutlery, glass). The place is for stray wanderer- whoever knocks the door on Christmas Eve, should be invited for joining the dinner. Nobody should be alone during that day.

 

4)Hay under the tablecloth: The hay is put on the table and covered by a tablecloth. It is related to the fact that Jesus was born on a hay in the stable.

 

5)Sharing the wafer: Before starting eating, Poles share the wafer (in polish „opłatek”) and wish each other all the best. 

                                                           Photo by FotoKatolik                                                                       

                                                           Photo by FotoKatolik

 

                                                                 

5 Polish Craft Beers You Must Try

1) AleBrowar: The brewery was established in 2012 by the three beer enthusiasts and it’s located in the north of Poland (Pomorze). AleBrowar has been one of the initiators of the polish craft beer revolution. My favorite is Rowing Jack- American IPA.

AleBrowar-Rowing Jack- American IPA

AleBrowar-Rowing Jack- American IPA

 

2) Artezan: Artezan is a first established craft brewery in Poland. It has been opened in 2012 and as one of the first, they started offering another style of beers except for broadly known lagers. Among offered beers, you may find very intriguing types, for example: Cymbopogon (Wheat Ale with lemongrass), Bevo! Bevo! (Rye Ale with orange zest and bergamot).

                                                                 Artezan - Wheat Ale

                                                             Artezan - Wheat Ale

 

3)Podgórz- It is a small brewery from the south of Poland that exists since 2014. I have discovered Podgórz by trying its American Pale Ale- “Space Sheep” and must admit it was one of the best I’ve tried so far. As a big fan of light, summer beers, I can definitely recommend you also its Summer Ale: Sheldonada.

                                                   Podgorz -    Space Sheep

                                                  Podgorz - Space Sheep

 

4)Bazyliszek: The brewery has existed since 2014 in Natoiln, near Warsaw. I appreciate Bazyliszek for the unusual ingredients that they use to brew the beers (potatoes, acorns, herbs, flower petals, pine shoots, and even milk). I don’t usually choose stouts, but for their cocoa-vanilla rye stout, I make an exception.

                                                          Browar Bazyliszek - S en O Warszawie

                                                      Browar Bazyliszek - Sen O Warszawie

 

5) Ursa Maior- Ursa is the brewery located in Bieszczadzkie mountains. It is also the most ecological brewery in Poland. Ursa’s beers you may try in its pub in Krakow in Plac Wolnica.

I have tested all of the offered beers and I have never been disappointed, However, Ursa’s Golden Ale is still my number one. 

                                                      Ursa Maior- Golden Ale

                                                      Ursa Maior- Golden Ale

 

On our Craft Beer Tour, I always care that at least half of the tested beers come from my favorite breweries. I think the five places I mentioned are the best representative of polish craft sector.

 

Useful links:

Here you can find the a great article about Krakow written by Waytostay : Visit Krakow in 48 hours