When I visit different countries I like to find out about their customs and traditions, talk to the locals and do the things they do and, of course, try the local food and drink. I wouldn’t say I’m a big eater…no okay I take that back…I love eating! Almost everywhere I go my mind somehow ends up drifting to food. Mr Ayla almost always ends up telling me to stop thinking about my stomach for a second but I can’t help it! My belly wants food so I want food! And Poland was no exception.
I wasn’t expecting the food to be quite so tasty in this part of Eastern Europe so I was surprised, delighted and then very hungry. It was also a bonus that we were there over the Easter weekend when food markets lined the streets in full force and delicious looking cakes and chocolate filled shop windows just inviting us in.
Instead of going to all the obvious tourist places to eat we hunted down quiet little traditional restaurants so that we could properly test the Polish food and atmosphere out. At first it felt a bit awkward going into somewhere that was clearly full of locals when we didn’t understand a word of Polish and the waiting staff didn’t speak much English either, but I’m so glad we did as we discovered some great places, amazing food and had the delight of being entertained by Polish folk bands.
One of my favourite finds was Pierogi – a kind of dumpling, although not the normal English dumplings that I thought they would be. They’re more like ravioli type pasta but softer and slightly stodgier as they’re made from unleavened dough, stuffed with yumminess such as cheese, potato and meat. And because this is a simple but very popular Polish dish it was incredibly cheap. I thought the price would only get us a tiny little portion to try so we were pleasantly surprised when a full plate was put in front of us!
In Zakopane, a small town in the mountains in the south, there were a few foods that I wanted to try before I got there. Oscypek was the main one – a grilled delicacy made from sheep’s milk. It seems to be one of the most common snack foods in the town and the streets were lined with market stalls filled with it.
When we were given our first helping at one of the cute little food stalls that lined the main road, it came with a big spoonful of jam dolloped on top. I did find this very strange and me and Alex looked at each other silently asking “what the hell is this?!” before taking our first cautious bite. It tasted kind of like halloumi cheese with the same rubbery texture and grilled flavour but the addition of jam actually made it taste really good! So good in fact that I kept going back for more and telling myself I was allowed as the portions were so small!
Some of my other favourite finds were potato pancakes, a crispy flattened potato with a creamy sauce, as well as chicken breast on a bed of sticky lemon rice. I’m dribbling now just thinking of it all!
And the sweets, oh the sweets! Everything you could imagine from pastries, waffles, cakes, tarts, doughnuts, sweet bread, chocolate, ice cream…I was in sweetie heaven! Bakeries galore, teeming with people and the smell of freshly baked bread, filled the streets in Krakow and made me think of old-fashioned bakeries, the sort that people would line up to get their bread at during the war (which was quite easy to imagine in this city that still has a lot of scars from war).
Zakopane was host to a huge number of cafes that only served sweet foods and these were also teeming with people, coming in out of the freezing snow in woolly hats, scarves and gloves to warm up with a hot chocolate and slice (or two) of cake.
Even the cocktails were to die for – my favourite being a very strange but extremely delicious blend of vanilla vodka, espresso, vanilla and castor sugar. And of course Polish vodka in every flavour you can imagine.
I love trying new foods from different parts of the world and Poland really surprised me in being one of my favourite places for food. Poland really is a foodie’s paradise.
Right, this has made me very hungry so I’m off to get some food now! 😉
- A Fairytale in Zakopane (mrsaylasadventures.wordpress.com)