Poland is a country with a rich and glorious history and many interesting traditions, including gastronomic ones.
National Polish cuisine was formed on the basis of cuisines from different regions of the country, which have their own characteristic features. She was greatly influenced by the culinary customs of several peoples at once: Lithuanians, Magyars, Tatars, Armenians and Jews. A kind of finishing “cutting” of Polish cuisine was made by chefs from Italy and France, who for centuries served at the court of Polish kings and aristocrats.
Polish national dishes are delicious and varied – these are traditional fish dishes from the Baltic coast, potatoes and feathers from the eastern regions, soups based on the Mazovian flour sourdough and dishes made from duck meat from Wielkopolska.
Polish chefs constantly use all kinds of gifts from the sea, forests, fields and rivers in their work. They have not forgotten how to bake rutabaga pancakes, smoke sheep’s cheese and prepare hawthorn sauce for game zomber. Everything is used: fish, game, crayfish, wild berries and mushrooms.
Some features of Polish cuisine bring it closer to Russian cuisine. This applies, for example, to the use of a number of typical products that seem too exotic, if not completely inedible for most foreign guests. Take at least sauerkraut, pickled mushrooms and cucumbers, fermented milk drinks and flour soups.
What should you try in Poland from food? What local dishes should you get acquainted with first?
Zhurek – soup for all occasions (zurek)
A local variation of the “hangover” soup, it perfectly restores the normal activity of the stomach and digestive system the next day after a heavy intake of alcoholic beverages.
Urek is an authentic Polish folk dish. In each region of the country, it is prepared in its own way. Only the soup base remains unchanged – a solution of rye flour, fermented on rye crusts. Further, small differences begin: in cafes and taverns in Mazovia, horseradish, sour cream and garlic are sure to be added to the rye for a pungent taste. In other regions, the soup is saturated with boiled eggs, slices of brisket, smoked and boiled sausage.
And what to try for a tired tourist, fed up with historical panoramas of Polish cities and barely dragging his feet? The answer lies on the surface, of course – bigos, one of the main attractions of local cuisine.
Being in Poland and not getting enough bigos is the same as visiting the Czech Republic and neglecting a baked boar knee or forgetting about goulash in Hungary. In a word – “gastronomic crime”.
The classic Old Polish proportion is 1.5 kg of fresh and sauerkraut per 1 kg of all kinds of meat and sausages. A couple of glasses of good Polish beer in a cozy cafe, and hiking will once again seem like an interesting and educational activity, and not hard physical work.
Polish zander (sandacz po polsku)
One of the most popular dishes is a wonderful gastronomic combination of three natural gifts from the generous Polish land.
Delicate pike perch meat fried in a thin puff pastry with a spicy sauce of stewed chanterelles and crayfish tails – this is how this top Polish dish is prepared in the best Warsaw restaurants.
Duck with apples (kaczka z jabłkami)
Another popular restaurant hit that you should definitely try in Poland. The classic combination of two typical Polish products makes this dish tastier than anywhere else.
Young farm ducks are marinated in mead, after which their meat becomes surprisingly tender and tasty. The second irreplaceable ingredient in the dish is the country’s main agricultural pride: Polish apples.
Duck with apples is especially good in the establishments of cities and towns of Greater Poland (Poznan, Kalisz, Gniezno). The best time for tasting is autumn, when the new harvest of apples ripens.
Polish dumplings (pierogi)
It would seem, what could be unusual in dumplings? Tourists from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus will definitely not surprise them? However, not everything is so simple – in Poland, the preparation of feathers (this is their local name) has been brought to the culinary absolute, so all tourists should definitely try them.
The most common variety is feathers with mushrooms and cabbage, sculpted in the shape of a crescent. A clear historical reference to the centuries-old struggle of the Polish people with the Ottoman Empire. These dumplings can be found in restaurants in any Polish city.
Large feathers stuffed with mushroom meat are popular in the eastern regions. In Lesser Poland (south of the country) so-called “Russian” feathers are prepared, stuffed with potatoes, onions and cottage cheese.
Flasks in Polish (flaczki)
This traditional Polish dish is borrowed from Lithuanian cuisine as a result of the mutual cultural influence of the two countries during the period of union. Favorite food of Queen Jadwiga and the Grand Duke of Lithuania Jagiello, who became the founder of the Jagiellonian dynasty.
It is not customary to cook at home, so even the Poles themselves, as a rule, eat it in cafes and restaurants. Boiled and then stewed beef tripe in consistency is something like a thick soup. Flasks are usually served with beef or pork liver meatballs (pulpets), as well as dumplings and blood sausage.
This gourmet dish is a good option for a sumptuous Polish breakfast. And, by the way, it is quite possible to buy it in a store (in a bank) and take it with you as a souvenir from Poland when returning home.
This magic word hides only small beef dumplings. This is yet another proof of a large-scale cultural exchange between different parts of the once huge state – the Commonwealth.
Sorcerers are present in different variations in the cuisines of neighboring peoples: Poles, Belarusians and Lithuanians. They are usually eaten whole, without losing a drop of the delicious juicy broth.
Goose roll (rolada z gęsi)
Historically, one of the main Polish Christmas dishes, both among Catholics and Protestants. But you can try it not only during the New Year holidays.
In restaurants in Krakow and Warsaw, it is prepared in a very refined way: minced goose meat, veal, nuts and dried fruits are placed in a marinated goose breast fillet. Blackberry-cognac sauce and dried plums give the dish a sweet taste.
Cabbage rolls (golabki)
Once upon a time in the old days, stuffed cabbage rolls in Polish cuisine were usually filled with buckwheat porridge, zhur or borscht.
If you order this dish in some Warsaw cafe these days, then there is a high probability of getting standard cabbage rolls with boiled cabbage leaves with boiled rice, fried minced pork and onions with mushroom sauce. However, it turns out quite tasty.
A cake that became extremely popular at the very end of the 20th century thanks to the Pope John Paul II. It was his public childhood memories of the wonderful taste of the Napoleon cake bought in a simple market confectionery that made a splash among Polish confectioners.
Then, in 1999, during the visit of the Pope to his hometown of Wadowice, all the pastries and cakes that somehow resembled Napoleon were bought up there in one evening.
Since then, Papal Kremowki have been in great demand among tourists and locals alike, and are among the must-try Polish desserts.