One cannot overestimate the meaning of bread in Polish cuisine and tradition. It has been an essential part of them both for centuries. Now the variety of different bread types available at the nearest grocer's is taken for granted.
But in the past ages time of hardship often struck, and bread was treated with great respect. It was visible in folk customs.
When bread fell to the ground, it was immediately picked up and kissed. A new loaf was marked with the sign of the cross before cutting. And important guests to the house were greeted with bread and salt.
Today bread remains one of the most important foods for the Poles. The main ingredient for Polish bread is wheat, rye or both. Traditional bread has a crunchy crust,is soft but not too soft inside, and has unforgettable aroma. Such bread is made on sourdogh which lends it a distinctive taste. It can be stored for a week or so without getting too hard and is not crumbly when cut.
Unfortunately these days more and more breads are made in a more "modern" way, which yields cheaper and less tasty, industrial-like product. But it's still quite easy to find great bread in Poland. You just need to know where to buy and what to choose.
We have told about a certain canon of Polish bread. It would be wrong however to conclude that there's only one type of it which is worth mentioning. On the contrary! Each good bakery make its bread slightly differently. Breads are made of various cereals (not just wheat or rye), whole grain breads abound and sometimes some traditional extra ingredients are used (e.g. onion, sunflower seed or lard). And, taking a broader view, the variety of bakery products in Poland is truly magnificent! From bread rolls and rogaliks (a kind of croissant) to cheese cakes and makowiec. But it's a slightly different story :)