So much begins with a meal...

Polish cuisine is a product of long history and comes in variety of dishes, tastes and flavors. Different regions have contributed their own specialities of Polish food. And not just regions. Throughout centuries Poland has been home to many guests of other nations. This is why French, Italian, German, Ukrainian, Jewish and even Oriental influences are present in Polish cooking. And modern cooks keep adding their own ideas.
 

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Easter in Poland

 

If you are in Poland in April, on one Saturday you might see people heading somewhere with small baskets in their hands. If you look closer, you'll notice that there's food in the baskets. Those people are carrynig it to church for blessing, because it's Holy Saturday, just before Easter. And having your food blessed on that day is an old Polish tradition.


Polish Easter - food blessing
(source: pl.wikipedia.org)

 

Just like Christmas, Easter in Poland has its special culinary dimension. The food which is blessed on Holy Saturday is eaten on Easter Sunday during what is called Easter Breakfast. What is carried to church in a small basket is of course just a sample of the whole Easter Breakfast.

 

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Christmas in Poland

 

Christmas is a special time. Also for Polish cuisine. Christmas Eve is most significant in this regard. On that day a traditional dinner is served in almost every Polish home. The dinner begins in the evening. In the past it used to include as many as twelve dishes. These days not many people still prepare that amount of meal. Nevertheless Polish Christmas Eve dinner is still a remarkable event.

Tradition requires that Christmas Eve dishes are meatless. And this custom is generally observed in Poland. Christmas Eve dishes are actually quite healthy, because they include mainly fish, vegetables and cereals. So what does a typical modern dinner on that special day in Poland look like?

 


Traditional Polish Christmas Eve meal.
source: en.wikipedia.org

Details vary, depending on geographic location and personal preferences. However we can specify the most popular dishes. The dinner usually starts with red borsch and noodles stuffed with mushrooms (“uszka” – literally “litttle ears”). Some people though serve herring as a starter, before the soup. Then come dumplings (pierogi), stuffed with sauerkraut and mushrooms. An indispensible and actually the central dish of the dinner is fish. The classsic Christmas Eve fish in Poland is carp. But sometimes people replace it with some other kind, say trout or salmon. The fish is served fried. Frequently jellied carp is also prepared for Christmas. A sweet dessert follows. The most typical is poppy seed cake or kutia. The latter is frequently encountered in the eastern part of the country. It consists mainly of cereals, poppy seed and honey. Cheesecake and other kinds of cakes are possible too.

It is worth mentioning that Christmas Eve dinner is preceeded with sharing wishes with every one present, along with sharing a piece of a Christmas wafer (opłatek) with them. The wafer cannot be considered a dish of course. It’s more of a symbolic element which stresses the solemnity of the moment. Another tradition is to left an empty plate for an unexpected guest who might appear. But this custom is no longer universally observed.


Polish Oplatki (Christmas Wafers)
source: en.wikipedia.org

During “propper” Christmas (after Christmas Eve) there are no strict traditions. Dishes are prepared freely to suit taste. Certainly poultry deserves mentioning. Duck is very popular (especially roasted with apples). Goose and chicken are also common. Generally, Poles indulge in food during Christmas. Heavier dishes and sweets abound. As a result the beneficiary effects of the healthy Christmas Eve dinner are all in all lost. But it is fully excusable to enjoy the tasty Polish cuisine to a slight excess once in a while Laughing

 

 
Makowiec - Poppy Seed Cake


Makowiec is one of the most important, typical and tasty Polish cakes.

In this cake poppy seeds are placed in between layers of dough which gives makowiec its characteristic looks. While poppy seeds are the most important ingredient, reflected in the cake's name (“mak” means poppy in Polish), several other ingredients determine the cake’s character too. Raisins, almonds, honey (contained in the dough), orange peel and sometimes walnuts contribute to makowiec's tastiness. Ideally makowiec should not be too sweet.

Poppy seed flavor combiend with almond and orange notes make the cake seem rather light to the taste. It’s a great thing to enjoy with a cup or coffe. Makowiec is also one of Polish traditional Christmas cakes. You should definitely try it, if you haven’t yet!


(source: en.wikipedia.org)


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Polish Mushrooms


It is an important ingredient if Polish cuisine. It has neglectable nutritional value, is hard to digest and in extreme cases may cause death. It’s mushrooms!. 

 

Boletus
Boletus

 

They are quite frequently used in Poland as a very tasty addition to many dishes and sauces, e.g. an indispesible part of Polish bigos. Many meat dishes can be enriched with mushroom-flavored sauses. Fried red pine mushroom can wonderfully complement pork or beef. 

 

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What is Polish food?

 

First of all let me tell you that Polish food is fun. If you have ever tasted Pierogi, Golabki, Duck with Apples or, say, Roasted Trout, you’ll most likely agree with that right away.

But there are many more dishes. Meat, fish, poultry, dumplings, cakes, soups, cheeses, vegetables  etc. – they all come in very different forms, prepared in different ways, with different sauces, as regional specialties, and so on. It is this variety which is probably the most important thing about Polish food. It means a rich choice of tastes and flavors, which makes any gourmet happy.

 

Polish food: Pierogi
Classic Polish food:  Pierogi

 

Where does this enjoyable variety come from? First of tradition and history.

A few centuries ago Poland was one of the biggest countries in the world - home to many different nationalities. Not only did they provide they own culinary input, but Polish nobility were always eager to include novelties from abroad into their cooking.

In this way Polish food became a term encompassing a great deal of  ideas, coming from inside and outside of the country alike. And that’s exactly why in Polish cuisine you’ll find Ukrainian, French, German, Italian, Jewish, Hungarian, Oriental and other influences.

And what is Polish food like today?

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