Polish Recipes

Polish cuisine is rich in meat, especially chicken and pork, and winter vegetables (cabbage in the dish bigos), and spices, as well as different kinds of noodles the most notable of which are the pierogi. It is related to other Slavic cuisines in usage of kasza and other cereals. Generally speaking, Polish cuisine is hearty. The traditional cuisine generally is demanding and Poles allow themselves a generous amount of time to prepare and enjoy their festive meals, with some meals (like Christmas eve or Easter Breakfast) taking a number of days to prepare in their entirety. Traditionally, the main meal is eaten about 2 p.m., and is usually composed of three courses, starting with a soup, such as popular bouillon or tomato or more festive barszcz (beet) or zurek (sour rye meal mash), followed perhaps in a restaurant by an appetizer of herring (prepared in either cream, oil, or vinegar).

Other popular appetizers are various cured meats, vegetables or fish in aspic. The main course is usually meaty including a roast or kotlet schabowy (breaded pork cutlet). Vegetables, currently replaced by leaf salad, were not very long ago most commonly served as 'surowka' - shredded root vegetables with lemon and sugar (carrot, celeriac, beetroot) or fermented cabbage (kapusta kwaszona). The sides are usually boiled potatoes or more traditionally kasha (cereals). Meals often conclude with a dessert such as makowiec (poppy seed cake), or drozdzwka, a type of yeast cake. Other Polish specialities include chlodnik (a chilled beet or fruit soup for hot days), golonka (pork knuckles cooked with vegetables), kolduny (meat dumplings), zrazy (stuffed slices of beef), salceson and flaczki (tripe).

The elementary ingredients of Poland's cuisine are dictated by cereal crops such as rye, wheat, millet, barley and buckwheat. Rye bread is typical of this part of Europe. Bread has always had enormous symbolic importance to Poles. Buckwheat is also often seen in the Polish cuisine today. It is Poland's most popular side dish. Pickled vegetables such as cucumbers, beetroot, cabbage (sauerkraut) and kohlrabi have become an essential part of Polish cooking. The idea of pickling is not limited to vegetables; herring, fished in the Baltic, is soused with spices and vinegar and used among other things, for fasting days and holy days. This has remained as Poland's favourite national food. With the accent on storage, sour cream, curd cheese and soured milk have become important constituents of the Polish kitchen. Fresh cream and milk would be left to ferment. These dairy products have become an essential element in the taste and flavour of Polish cooking. Meat plays a significant importance in the Polish diet. Perhaps the most famous Polish meat known is the kielbasa, the Polish sausage. Polish food has much to offer, and I for one enjoy its robustness. As the Polish would say, "Jedzcie, pijcie i popuszczajcie pasa"... "Eat, drink and loosen your belt".