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Poland Polish food

Polish cooking- Sałatka Jarzynowa

Polish Vegetable Salad

Sounds simple and and it might seem like it’s not hard to guess what is in it, but chances are you will be surprised by this Polish salad, especially by how time consuming it is and the fact that it is probably the most fattening salad ever invented. It is a vegetarian entrée, but definitely not vegan.

Polish food is a lot more than sausage and Pierogi - salad is an important part of the diet and I use an array of dairy products as dressing. There are kefir and yogurt, I mix it will dill,lemon and salt and it is better than any dressing you can buy in a store.

In an average Polish home it is made a couple of times a year and is a must have on the holidays, usually made in large amounts. Some people avoid it because of its figure ruining effects but I have never heard of anyone who would dislike it.

It usually consists of 8 main ingredients, including cooked, raw, canned, and brined ones. Potatoes, carrots, parsley root, and celery should be cooked all together in as little amount of water as possible, without salt or any other spice and with skin on. My advice is throw an extra potato in as you will probably eat in the process. I don’t know if it’s the slow cooking or the other veggies that it is cooked with, but it tastes great with just a little bit of salt. Anyway, you peel the veggies after they are done, then chop them up. My salad is well chopped as my family thinks it is better that way, but it can be bigger dice as well. I recommend making the pieces tiny though, it really tastes better that way even though it is more work. The next ingredients are boiled eggs and brined pickles. The proportions should be about even for all these, but you can use more pickles if you like as this is what gives you texture and the specific taste of this Polish salad. If you want it to have mild taste, use more potatoes. The last group are onions and canned peas. Be careful with those, especially the peas, it can ruin the salad if you put too much in. I personally think there is no need to add peas but I guess it’s tradition. My aunt replaces it with corn for instance, not sure if this is the best solution though.

The dressing is very simple, it can be just lots of mayonnaise with salt and pepper. Make sure you use good traditional one without a sweet taste to it. I think Kielecki is the best one when it comes to Polish stuff. Oh, and save fat free or light things for a different occasion too if you want the salad to taste real. You can also mix it with some sour cream and mustard, it is great that way. Remember, it needs lots of seasoning.

Do not serve it right after you stir the dressing in, just try it to see if it needs anything, cover it up with plastic wrap and let it stand in the refrigerator for a few hours. Serve with ham, country sausage or any kind of cold kiełbasa and wheat or wheat-rye bread.

 

Categories
Polish food

Polish Restaurants

Polish Restaurants and dinning out

The truth is most Poles do not eat out that much. I am married and my wife cooks gourmet meals everyday. I guess it is also a matter of economics.

How is dining out in Poland different from in the USA?

When you walk in the restaurant, you probably expect a hostess who will lead you to the table. This is quite rare in Poland and mostly used at very busy places. Normally you can just choose the table you like. The waiter will not come right away to ask you about the drinks before you even look in the menu, either. If you want something before your main course you can call the waiter and order it, of course, but if you don’t, the drinks generally come with the meal or just a minute before it.

Oldest restaurant in the world in Krakow Poland and where I had my wedding reception

When you are done reading the menu and know what you want, close the booklet so that they know you are ready to order. The prices are in Polish Złoty and the tax is already included in the quoted price. This applies to anything that you buy in Poland and all over Europe, I believe. There might be some exceptions but none that I know of , and I’ve seen quite a lot of the continent.

In Europe it is not obvious that you want ice in your drink like it is in the USA, so make sure you tell the waiter about the ice if you want it. Otherwise you can get just a chilly or even room temperature beverage, especially in the winter. (However, this rarely happens during warmer seasons and will never ever happen with alcoholic drinks.) It’s because a lot of people here don’t like their drinks freezing or believe they will give them a sore throat. When I worked in a restaurant it was quite common that someone would ask for a room temperature Coke. It’s unacceptable in America, but not here.

Service is not included in your total. The tip should be about 10% of what you spend, as it is around the world. Try to leave them in cash as some restaurants do not allow the waiters to take tips off of a credit card. It makes things easier.

Smoking is not allowed in most places nowadays, only if the restaurant has a separate room for the smokers, but few of them do, thank goodness.

Categories
Poland Polish food

Kielbasa – Types of Polish Sausage

Types of Polish Sausage

I wrestle in my mind how much eat I should eat both for ethical and health reason. But when I am in Poland, which is where I live, I can not resist Polish Kielbasa, especially grilled.

I do not know one person who could name all the kinds of Polish sausage, simply because there are too many to remember. Some of them are local products, too and you cannot just go to any store and buy it. Here are the most significant kinds.

Look at all the different types of Polish sausage

Zwyczajna

The name means ‘regular’, ‘usual’ or ‘average’. Zwyczajna is the common kind, almost always destined for grilling or frying on a pan. There are numerous types, such as Śląska or Podwawelska, but they are all similar in taste. Make sure you eat it with good mustard and a wheat roll or bread. It makes a good addition to scrambled eggs after it is cut into half slices and fried, too.

White sausage – Biała Kiełbasa

This kind is boiled instead of smoking which makes it pale and not attractive looking. It usually goes with żurek, polish sour rye soup, sometimes they are even cooked together. I’m not a fan of this one, but a lot of people like it. It is the most controversial sausage- you can either love it or hate it. As a foreigner you are probably more likely to dislike it, but still give it a try.

Kabanos

Kabanos is a skinny cocktail sausage, usually a spicy one. The more dry it is, the better it tastes so do not keep it wrapped into anything after you buy it, although there are low chances of kabanos to last until it is dry, you will most likely eat it the day you get it, this is what happens at my house every time. It is meant to be eaten cold. I have heard of someone making hot dogs with it, but I don’t think it is a good idea. A regular skinny sausage would make a better hot dog as it is not dry. Kabanos is a good party food too, you can make koreczki with it, which are pieces of kabanos or ham, cheese and bell peppers (or whatever you please) on a toothpick.

Country – Wiejska

Another one that is only served cold. Wiejska is the most favorite one and a must have at every Polish home on Christmas, Easter or anytime the family gets together. It tastes best with vegetable salad and country bread.

Sucha Krakowska

Dry Kraków sausage, I have no idea why it is called dry sausage because it is not dry at all to me. Maybe it’s because it seems dry on the outside. It is mostly used for sandwiches, kind of like ham and is a good addition to vegetable salad as well. Although it is a chubby sausage, it is called skinny because it contains very little fat compared to other kinds.

Parówkowa

It’s just a really fat hot dog but often made with better quality meat, depending on where you buy it.

There are more kinds that are not popular or widely available but these are the basics that you should try while visiting Poland.

Categories
Poland travel

Krakow to Vienna

How to go from Kraków to Vienna

The best an only way to travel to and from Vienna is by bus from Krakow. In the evening every night there is a bus and it take about 9 hours with no border stops. It gets into Vienna in the morning. You could also drive but this is a very cheap and fast way. Many Poles work in Vienna (Wien) for the weekend. There are Poles everywhere there. In many ways they are similar cities but really Vienna is a Baroque and linear city and Krakow is city from Ancient times has a more medieval and chaotic character.

A comparison between Krakow and Vienna

A Cracovian’s first impression after coming to Vienna is usually: “Wow, this is almost like home”. Those two towns are quite similar. What I love about Vienna the most was that despite having a skyscraper district it is a big town with a fairly small town atmosphere, just like Kraków.

I prefer beautiful Krakow to Vienna - You can see my wife and daughter in the photo - it is in Krakow

 

Both towns have big rivers passing through them, similar architecture and downtowns. Kraków’s Main Square and Vienna’s Stephansplatz look a lot alike. Both are loaded with cafes more than any average city, too. They even have the exact same trams or at least they did a couple of years ago when I visited it last time.

They both have cultural variety, but naturally Vienna has more as it is almost twice as big as Kraków and is also the capital (which Kraków is not). You might get an impression that there are more foreigners living in the town that native Austrians, and this might be true. They are mostly Asians and Middle-East Asians, but it varies in different districts. Vienna was rated the best city to live in the world, no wonder everyone wants to live there.

Transport – how to get about town

Vienna has better public transport, no doubt about that. Besides buses and trams there is the underground that Kraków lacks. Although a lot of times it is crowded, I recommend using it, rather than buses and trams, it is faster and more convenient, especially during hot summers. There is a train coming every 2 or 3 minutes usually and you can get a monthly or a 2-week pass. No one knows why Kraków doesn’t have it, except some legendary reasons like “oh, we cannot have it because it will destroy our old buildings”. This is how the president of the town defends himself for not doing anything about it. If Vienna and Rome can have underground and not collapse, then Kraków can too. Maybe a couple of years down the road it will.

Entertainment

So Vienna has this “fun district” called Prater. There is an amusement park, a regular green park and a zoo. Kraków has a zoo as well, many parks but no amusement park, except a mobile one for a couple of weeks in the spring. I think this is a quite a flaw, since there are not that many other places that the whole family can enjoy. But again, maybe someday.

Kraków and Wien are the capitals of art. I’m not even going to try to name all the places to visit, but any guidebook will help you choose the things you want to see. Vienna is a lot about Mozart, not as much as Salzburg, but still. You should experience something connected to Mozart while in Austria or your visit doesn’t count. If you are not enough of a fan to go to a concert, at least eat a Mozartkugeln.

There is this American shop in Vienna that I adore as it is the only place around that sells American food. You can get thigs like Diet Cherry Vanilla Coke for instance, and that’s hard to get even at Walmart. I’ve heard of people taking pilgrimages for Cadburry chocolate, too, even though Austria’s own chocolate is probably better to be honest or at least at the same level. Either way I wish Cracow had a place that could provide me with the sweet taste of Dr Pepper every now and then. If you know one, please share.

Cost of living

Kraków is a lot cheaper, especially if you rent a place. Food costs less also, and so do theatres, museums and public transport. Any country that has the Euro as currency tends to get pricey. But it’s not too bad and if you live and work there it will not bother you at all. However, if you just visit the town as a tourist, you will have way more fun in Kraków and won’t run out of money as quick as you would in Vienna.

Let me know what you think of both cities if you have been to either or both.

Categories
Words

Polish travel words

Travel vocabulary for Poland

Even though it is easy to communicate in Poland using English only, as a turysta travelling to Poland, you might find some of these words useful.

Let’s start with the airport (lotnisko or port lotniczy). For your departure go to odloty. That word also has a different meaning so you might be surprised with some of the content google will come up with when you type it in, it has something to do with Polish girls of course. Leave a comment if you are still curious, it might be connected with vacation but not travel.

Odlot can be a word for something unusual and astonishing as well as being high.

After your odprawa (check in ), plural from odprawy, or nadanie bagażu (this one refers to your baggage specifically) , you can proceed to your bramka (gate). After your flight (lot) and claiming your luggage (odbiór bagażu) go to wyjście, which is an exit. Unless you have something to duty (cło), of course. Wyjście is only for walking situations, so if you are driving and intend to exit the highway, look for wyjazd instead.

When you come to the airport to pick someone up, you go to przyloty. This one does not have any hidden meanings.

Parking , taxi and shuttle are the same as in English.

Trolly or 'tram', bike or 'rower' or on foot or 'na nogach' or 'pieszo' in Polish. Look at this picture you can see all those three things and flying is for the birds.

If you are travelling by train, you need to go to dworzec kolejowy. Buy your tickets (bilety) at kasa and then find your peron (platform). Polish trains are often late, so make sure you check the timetable (rozkład).

Bus station is quite similar- it is called dworzec autobusowy, you can buy tickets at kasa as well, but a lot of times you just buy it from the driver after you get on the bus or coach. They usually leave off of a stanowisko.

Some extra things you may need include kantor (exchange), WC (pronounced vu-tze) – restroom and opłata (cost, charge) or cena (same meaning).

To summarize:

Airport – Lotnisko

port – lotniczy

Arrivals – Przyloty

Baggage claim – Odbiór bagażu

Check in – Odprawa, Odprawy

Departures – Odloty

Duty – Cło

Exit – wyjście (walking) or wyjazd (driving)

Flight – Lot

Train Station – Dworzec kolejowy

Bus Station – Dworzec autobusowy

Ticket window – Kasa

Platform – Peron

Schedule – Rozkład

Gate – Bramka

Price, cost, charge – Cena, opłata

Exchange – Kantor ( use a bank machine or Bankomat in Poland as the rate is better)

Toilettes – WC

Once you know all these, you should not have any problems communicating while you travel to Poland, even if you come across someone who does not understand English.

Categories
Poland

Names in Poland

Polish names are charming and musical. Although I am American we gave our daughter a Polish name. I think it is a little more unusual and we just like the sound of it. Łucja ( first name) Weronika (middle name).

Example of how crazy Polish first and last names are

However, not all name is Polish flow so smoothly or even comprehensible. Further, if you have ever heard them spoken quickly by a soft-spoken Pole you might agree. For example, there is a funny Polish movie about a Polish man captured by the Germans in WWII. The man being questioned by the German officer has to state his Polish name. It was:
„Jak rozpętałem drugą wojnę światową” Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz

The officer had no idea how to transcribe these sounds to record his name.
Here is a clip from this, I recommend you watch it to get intitated into Polish surnames and Polish Christian names.

Needless to say some Polish names sound funny to the English-speaking ear. But I assure you they are as normal as ‘Kate’, ‘Mark’ and ‘Lucy’, to Poles (Kasia, Marek i Łucja) . You just have to get use to them.

People can be identified by gender of their surname and first name

One of the first things about Polish names that you will notice after staying in Poland for a while is that every girls name ends with an A. At the same time a guy’s name cannot with and a, unless it is a diminutive form of the name (such as Kuba is a diminutive form of the name Jakub (Jacob in English). This is why I was a little bit shocked when I first went to the USA and one of the guys I met introduced himself as Dakota. I thought it had to be a nickname.
The good thing about it is you can look at the name and already know whether it is a man or a woman you are dealing with. There is no gender confusion when you are looking at or hearing a name. I mean once you are introduced you know who you are talking to. The Polish language is like that. If you want to hire a pretty Polish girl you can tell on the application just by the name.
I do not even know why they put the question about gender in all those Polish forms. They are probably just for foreigners. In America for instant you can never really be sure about someone’s gender until you meet hem in person. The USA is quite libertarian when it comes to names, too. You can name your kid Apple or In God We Trust (although I’m not sure how that story ended) or change your name to Princess Consuela, like Phoebe off of “Friends”. This kind of stuff will not happen in Poland, as the Civil Registry is making sure you do not get too crazy with the name. Maybe it’s a good thing.
No one really cares about whether or not your middle name matches your first name. American people seem to be very concerned about this, but here it is more about the patron or the person that you are named after. You rarely use the middle name anyway, so it’s all about the meaning of it.
The most popular girl names in Poland for girls:

  1. Anna
  2. Katarzyna or Kasia, and
  3. Joanna or Asia
  4. Magdalena or Magda
  5. Sylwia

For me they sound lovely.

Polish girls are linquistic masters and can make any name sound sweet

Polish diminutives

Polish love to play with diminutives. For example, I call my daughter Lula, Lulie, LuLu baby Lu baby Łu, Lucyka, etc. This is not only common with kids but adults. Especially girls in Poland speak this way., it is like they have their own language.
Every Polish name has at least 2 diminutive forms, that is a less formal name, used by your parents and friends. You might not be familiar with this as it is very Slavic. Those are used to show affection, it is like calling a cat a kitty.

So the name is Izabela but a mother would call her me Izunia, and maybe a Grandma might say Isia. You can do that with every name there is. In the Polish languages. As soon as you have a Polish girl friend she will start changing your English name to a sweet name in Polish, you will see.
Old fashionable names for Polish babies – retro and vintage
Right now there is a tendency to give babies old-fashioned, vintage names, which I think is a good thing. It is way more classy than some foreign names that sound strange and unnatural with a Polish last name. They were quite popular a few years ago. It is now generally considered redneck to name your kid a foreign name, especially one with the letters v or x, which are not even a part of Polish alphabet. Unless you are foreign of course, if this is the case then you can do whatever you want and no one will blame you.

Name Day

It’s just like another birthday – you get wishes, flowers and gifts (no cake though, but you are supposed to throw a party or at least a little get together and sweets are a must). It really is not as popular anymore but want to honor the Saint with your name. It is more a European thing.

Every day a different pair of names is celebrated, sometimes there is three. You can look it up in the calendar, but it also shows on screens on the bus, newspapers, flower stands etc. Some names repeat a couple of times a year and in that case the closest one after your birthday is the one you celebrate. However, not everyone does. It is more of an older generation thing, my impression is that most young people do not even know when their name day is.

This is a brief view of  imię i nazwisko in Poland.

Categories
Poland Polish economy

Polish mortgage for Americans – EU citizens – Credit in Poland for foreigners

You can get a Polish mortgage to buy real estate in Poland, if you are from the USA or from the EU. However the requirements are more. You might even be a Polish citizen like me with US-based income and the scenario is different than if you are a Polish guy working in Poland with a work contract. You basically need a larger down payment. The purpose of this post is to give you a little more detail based on my personal experience.

Polish house in the countryside - old fashion style

Here are some Polish real estate words: – hipoteka – the Polish word for Mortgage or Kredyty (not uncountable like in English) or Doradca Finansowy, kredyty hipoteczne, pożyczki which is the Polish language word for loan, etc.

This is the way you get a Polish mortgage

  1. having Polish income – just like in the USA (credit check income proof small down payment)
  2. having EU income – like a normal mortgage above, but need to take additional steps. So if you are a Polish guy working in London lets say, you need more money down and proof from your employer and a few extra things and a larger percentage down.
  3. having USA or no non-EU income – Most banks do not touch this but a few do. I recommend going through some special companies that search for mortgages for you, some mortgage brokers in Poland, like Expander. expander.pl – but they are young sales agents guiding your towards their banks, but still they work. bnpparibas.pl

Where to get credit in Poland for real estate

I guess I recommend to try a bank like BNP Paribas, first the Polish subsidiary, not the parent in France.

I think they are pretty good and they do these types of loans in Poland. They are pretty nice and professionals that work there know what they are talking about.

Citibank Poland does not do these types of loans even for Americans, surprise.

Basically the first answer when you look around at bank or call place will be no.

Even Banks that do these loans will tell you no because the people that working are like this, are just low-level clerks, like postal workers and they are really whatever and do not want to be bothered or do not know their job outside of the ordinary day to day tasks.

For example, I asked at a bank where my American friend just got approval and did his loan in Poland and the manager told me ‘we never have done or will do this type of load’ her assistant was nodding in the background. Then I told them that my friend just did, right here. They still said no and gave a nasty look.

This is Poland. People will give you definitive answers even though they have not research it further (communism did this I think). The reason I tell you this is to tell you yes you can, do not give up.

You can get a loan but you need to really look around. For a non-Polish loan, you will need about 100,000 pln as a down payment, maybe 50,000 your target home is not too expensive. But that is only 30,000 us dollars. If you have this doors open. But Poland is not poor Poland anymore and US incomes and bank accounts do not impress, so foreigners getting loans in post a post economic crisis world have a hard time now.

This is in start contrast with 2007 before the real estate bust in Poland and the world where you walk into any bank and you would get 110% loan.

What you need to a Polish mortgage as a foreigner

  • 100,000 Polish zloty down payment
  • Then you will need to show your source of income from your US tax return and or employer. Then a US credit check. If your source of income is large they may lower the down payment. So it is easy except they require a large down payment.
  • Take your age, the total years of the mortgage is shorter, they take it and subtract it from like 65 and that is the maximum length of the mortgage you can take. Remember mortgage comes from the Latin word ‘mort’ and you know that that means.

An alternative is take a personal loan in the USA and use it to buy something in Poland but that is really not enough money or a high interest rate. Also look into UK banks or US banks that finance foreign property, but in this market, everyone wants not only proof of income but a large down payment if you are going to buy the new four letter word in financing that is Real Estate.

Building instead of buying a home in Poland – self finance with a stream of income

Also consider building and home and doing it in stages, it may take like 5 to 7 years but you can pay cash. This is what we are considering doing. Let me know if anyone has questions of need clarification on Polish mortgages and financing.

I think the idea of a dream place in Poland is a good dream and it is our dream too, to have a home in the USA and a cottage in Poland. I just think you have to either pay for building it in cash over many years, which we might do, have 30,000 USD to put down and good USA income, or buy a cheap place in the Polish countryside and fix it up.

Categories
Poland travel

Krakow Poland Wieliczka bus trip cheap

How to tour Wieliczka salt mines for a fraction of the price

If you are on a limited budget while in Kraków and would like to see the salt mine in Wieliczka, do not just get any tour that someone is trying to sell to you. You will see scores of tour agents and students handing out fliers for VIP tours as well as tours offered in your hotel. However, the purpose of this post is to tell you how to go to Wieliczka like a Cracovian or an insider.

Salt from the mines around Krakow. There use to be an massive sea which is why this region has such healthy and salt and mineral deposits

Ifor those on more a a budget and like to use your brain when traveling, try my method of going to Wieliczka. Most VIP tours will cost about 25 dollars just for the transport. However, this does not including the cost of entrance tickets or anything else.

Be smart and take the very same ride on a public bus instead, it will cost you less than 3 dollars round trip and it is a bit of an adventure.

The secret to a cheap adventurous trip to the Salt Mines in Krakow

What you need to do is take the 304 express bus to Wieliczka. It’s quite easy to find them as they are bright yellow (It is actually run by a joint American Polish company but part of the Kraków public mass transit system, it is powered by clean natural gas). While almost all other Kraków buses are blue.

I see many old foreigners and all kinds of people who are not rocket scientists, do not speak any English or Polish, taking this bus to the salt mines, so you can figure it out too. Do not be afraid to try something different.

It stops in Krakow center twice: at Bagatela theater and then Filharmonia.

The 304 also stops at Bonarka shopping mall on the way (or way back) which in square feet is the largest shopping mall in Europe. So it is a win-win as you can do some shopping on the way back.

I personally think Bagatela (a small theater, you can notice it, because above it is a large screen advertisement) is easier to reach from the Main Square. All you need to do is walk along Szewska Street (pronounced like Chef-ska, it is easy to find as it as McDonald’s on it) until you find it crossing with Dunajewskiego Street.

The busy Karmelicka Street is kind of an extension of it. Once you get to the zebra crossing on your right, you will see your bus stop. Across the street you should see a cosmetic store called Rossmann (good to know if you need anything). If you have Rossmann behind your back and the Planty park is across the street from you, you are at the right one.

The bus actually has a decent schedule for a bus that goes out of town, it usually comes every 15-20 minutes. So just stand and wait or ask people. Most young people speak some level of intermediate English.

Where to buy the tickets for Weilicka salt mines

Which ticket to buy? It is easy, do not worry. It is good for your brain to figure this out. Buy not just, regular bus tickets for this one as it goes outside the city border (obviously, you are trying to get to Wieliczka not just a Krakow local stop). You could buy a local ticket, and ‘play dumb’ (like I did not know) and they would not fine you because you are a foreigner. But technically could get a 60 pln if you have bad luck and get caught by a bus ticket checker, and have not the right ticket, but I have personally never been checked outside the city center in all the years I have ridden public transport in Krakow. So do not worry.

What you need an agglomeration ticket (bilet normalny aglomeracyjny). It costs 3.20 zł. (that is like 1 dollar).

You can buy a ticket on the bus with the driver or in he automatic machines on the bus. They take change, not bills.

You can also buy it right there at the stop, there is a ticket machine and a kiosk not very far from it. The bus has a machine that you can use if you did not manage to get your ticket earlier, but those are less complex and will only take change, a lot of time the exact amount and if you insert a 5 złoty coin in, it will most likely spit it back out. So my advice is take care of the tickets before you get on the bus. You can also buy it as a kiosk from a human not a machine.

Once you are on the right bus it is down the hill. You get off the bus at the stop that says Kopalnia Soli. It is right by the Salt Mine and I believe there is a sign that is easy to notice.

A single ticket to a guided tour around the mine with a foreign speaker costs 68 złoty. If you are an individual visitor or in a group of 5 or less, you do not need to book it.

Once at the salt mine they have English guides and English everything you like. Its like the Disney of Krakow and very easy to get around and figure things out. It reality is is not far from Krakow so you do not have to worry about anything. There are vans and other ways to get back.

I like actually buy some of the salt and take a bath in it. It has many micro-nutrients that are good for mood and aliments and detoxification. You could bring it back to your hotel and take a bath.

If you take this challenge it is a safe way to try an off the beaten path adventure travel for less. If you have any questions just ask.

Enjoy your trip to Wieliczka for less.

 

Categories
Poland Polish food

Polish Zapiekanki – cheap food in Poland

If you want to know where and how to eat cheap in Poland, here is a food that although is not really traditional Polish cooking, it is part of the Polish diet. Za-Pie-kan-ki literatlly means something that is baked.

Polish Zapiekanki

A zapiekanka is the most popular kind of fast food In Poland. No one really knows the story behind inventing it, but what I know is that it first became popular in 1970’s, during the Communism period in Poland. It is quick and extremely easy to make, even for someone who hardly knows how to make scrambled eggs. Zapiekanki are very popular among college students, as they can make a good, filling and hot meal and at the same time are relatively cheap, especially if you buy them frozen. This kind is not that great though, so if you are not a student have a real one instead.

Zapiekanki is a cheap way to eat in Poland, look at the prices in Polish Złoty on the right.

What actually is a zapiekanka?

It’s a half of a long roll with different kind of toppings, baked in an oven and served hot. You might find it close to pizza although it rarely contains tomato sauce. The two basic ingredients that are used in a classic zapiekanka are cheese and mushrooms, but nowadays it revolved to a level where you can choose from such things as a Mexican or Greek style ones, so mushrooms are no longer a must as they do not go with everything.

I like lots of vegetables on it as the base price is pretty cheap and even if you go hog wild you are talking less than 3 dollars for a substantial meal. In Krakow,  found the best one in Podgorze where I live (ask me for directions). It is called the ‘red pepper pizza shop’ in English, but the one in Kazimierz is a Jewish and hipster district of Kraków are the most popular as late night pub goers get food there.

Pizzeria "czerwona papryczka" is where I recommend to get a real cheap and good baguette in Krakow.

The most popular toppings are mushrooms, cheese and ham, served with ketchup or garlic sauce on top. Those can be made at home easily and a lot of Polish moms use them as quick dinner replacements when they do not have time to cook a more complex meal. For a homemade one you can use a round bun or even a slice of bread, as long as it is a wheat product. Dark whole grain bread is great, but I would save it for a different occasion as it will never make a good zapiekanka. The base has to be neutral so that you can fully enjoy the fun stuff that is on top of it.

Warning about this Polish food – If you eat it before you go to bed you will have so many wild flying dreams as they load it up with mushrooms. Normal Polish mushrooms but still they are powerful enough to give you crazy dreams.

Where to eat zapiekanka?

You will find them anywhere in Poland. By the bus stop, on the beach, in bars and football stadiums. They are everywhere, but if you want the best one, come to Kazimierz – old Jewish district of Kraków. It’s famous for its zapiekanki and it is probably the only place where you can get one with feta cheese and barbecue sauce, if that is what you like.

How to make zapiekanki?

Here’s what you need to make a classic one:

  • A wheat bun (preferably a long and skinny one)
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Ham, salami or bacon

And this is what you need to do:

1. Melt some butter on the frying pan, throw in sliced mushrooms and chopped onions. Add some salt and pepper and fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Cut the bun horizontally in half, spread some butter on it and place the mushrooms on top using a big spoon. Then put some ham on it and cover with cheese, it can be grated or just slices.

3. Bake for about 15 minutes at 185°C (365°F) until the bun is crispy and the cheese is well melted and starts to dry around the edges.

After it’s done you can sprinkle it with chives. Most people like it with ketchup or even mayonnaise on top, I like it with both.

Enjoy!

 

Categories
Poland

Are Polish people negative?

Polish people are positive and happy people. Many Poles like to say Polish people complain and are depressed. I disagree.  It has been a great pleasure for me to live in Poland with peaceful humble Polish people. Polite people, who respect tradition and the old and really try to improve themselves and society. People who explore the world and ideas. Polish people are positive and have great intellectual curiosity.

Since I live on both sides of the big pond (in Poland and American) I think I can make a more reasonable assessment of Polish society more than someone who has not.

  • This post about Polish culture not only answers, if, but why.
If you see yourself as a speck of dust floating through the universe - this is what life will give you - but if you see as infinite and divine, this is what life will give you. This is me in the modern museum of Art in Kraków.

We create our own reality and the people who do complain in Poland, it is their problem. However, it has nothing to do with Polish society or Polish people, but a vocal minority of spoiled cry babies who do not have the courage to look deeper at the issues of life; and just see reality defined on the surface in terms of material wealth.  I try to stay away from messed up people. I am not my brother’s keeper.

Melancholy Vs. Complaining victims – Some Polish people  are melancholy, this is different from the energy vampires who complain like babies – people who are not proud of and defend their own culture.

The melancholy, maybe just they need more sunlight, but even these depressed ones seem to be laughing about their negativity and depression and smiling. They joke and laugh about their depression and they are quite funny about it.  This is just the way they like to talk.

American Vs. Polish negativity – But Polish people are not more negative than other people.  I am Polish and American and travelled the world so I have perspective.

Look at the stereotype of the happiness people on earth, the Americans.  Smiling Americas yes, but we love to complain too.

I am American and all I can say I am glad I live in Poland today. I do not have to be subjective to all the negativity of American politics and news.  Americans like to complain about Obama or  the debt or the economy or schools and everything else. Even me I am somewhat Libertarian and I complain about both parties the GOP and the Democrats. Gee Wiz I am happy I cancelled by Cable or I would be laying on my sofa, glued to CNN and depressed.

In fact, I would say that Polish people at this juncture are less negative than most. In fact, all my Polish friends are positive and have a sparkle in their eye and warm and caring. Students and the young are particularly a positive.

Who is complaining in Poland

Energy Vampires in Poland

So the stereotypes of Polish people complaining is from a specific voice of people. Lets look at who complains in Poland and why.

The old in Poland have faith (and moved mountains by bringing down communism) and the young have hope ( and have a sparkle in their eye). So who is negative?

In my observation, there are some people 40-60 year old people, really to 55, that have made negativity, nihilism cynicism their fundamental way of life. They are not even aware of it.

Some but not all.

I think this is comes from a lack of faith and trust. They confuse the church with religion and quickly embrace pop culture cynicism.

That is they are cynical because they have neither faith in the great sense or hope and faith in their own personal meaning in an individual sense. They muddle though life.

I think this came from a time in Poland when they did not know how to handle the break from black and white cultural structure they had, so they choose to see only shade of grey. Their negativity which they call  ‘realism’ pollutes the young like communism polluted the water. They have a mission to take the magic out of life for people.

Me I avoid these people. But this has nothing to do with Poland, but rather people in general. Negative people or energy vampires are found everywhere. It is not Poland.

They try to rob the youth of faith and hope  indirectly. They do this  subtly by not encouraging hope.

Therefore they paint a picture of their world as grey and whatever, Co mam robić – wszystko jedno. But under this I think they lack faith.

Good news about Polish society

However, the Polish people I know are not like that at all. Most are sweet and positive and have faith and hope in God and humanity and themselves. Some lack confidence, but that is something different, more a human problem. So are Polish people negative? No and if you know some that are I would suggest you find a new circle of friends. It has nothing to do with being Polish society, a few people who are on a journey towards the dark side.