This week we were trying to learn a little bit more about Poland. We threw a Polish dinner party which was a little challenging with us trying these dishes for the first time. I was a little worried when people started sitting down but most of the food ended up much better than I expected! And as the Poles say, ‘A good appetite needs no sauce.’
Of course when you think of Polish food, Kielbasa comes to mind but we are trying to take the vegetarian road. So we stuck with pierogies, hulaski, potato salad, mushroom soup and vanilla pudding all from scratch!
Improvising with food became a skill the Polish people honed during the age of Communism. Many dishes are made with pork, potatoes, and cabbage. There is a general European influence to Polish food with influences from Italy, France, Germany, Austria, etc.
Anyway, here’s a little about the background of Poland.
Warsaw, the capital city is a survivor. It has made it through the worst of times and still thrives.
This is the Palace of Culture and Science, the tallest building in Poland. It was a gift from the Soviet Union to the Polish people and 16 Soviets died in the construction. It changed the landscape of Warsaw drastically but is now a well known icon. Built over 60 years ago, it is still a point of controversy.
Gdansk is a port city on the Baltic Sea. The Baltic also boarders Germany and Denmark. (We got married on a Danish Island in the middle of the Baltic.)
St. Mary’s Basilica has a trumpet signal every hour. It is cut off mid note in remembrance of a bugler who was shot in the throat with a Mongolian arrow when sounding the warning of their attack. That was in 1241 AD.
This cafe in Krakow is unique for it’s sewing machine tables. This is an homage to the Singer Sewing Machine factory that stood on these grounds.
Near to Krakow is the village of Zalipie. The entire town, from the bridges to the dog houses and everything in between is covered in painted decorative flowers.
The mountains are a natural border between Poland and Slovakia. They are a huge tourist attraction in Poland.
The Crooked Forest:
The Crooked Forest is a grove of around 400 trees all curves in a J shape with unknown cause. They were probably planted in the 1930’s and it is thought that they were purposely deformed for making furniture or boats. With the war’s start, they were left to grow for 80 plus years.
Polish tradition is steeped in both Religion and Paganism.
Many smart and talented people who made their mark on the world have come from Poland.
Copernicus was the first to say that the Sun is the center of the universe, not the Earth.
Madame Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize for her development of the theory of radioactivity.
Chopin was a great composer and pianist. He so loved his country that as he was dying in Paris, his last wish was to have his heart removed and buried in Poland. Either that or he was afraid of being buried alive, a common occurrence in that day.
Poland had a sad history throughout WWII.
The war was started when the Nazi’s invaded from Germany and 16 days later the Soviets invaded from the other side of the country.
Over the course of the war, 6 death camps were set up by Hitler in Poland which including Treblinka and Auschwitz. Over 6 million Polish citizens died in the war, about 1/5 of the population. 90% were not military related and half were of Polish Jews.
Many Poles put themselves at risk to help Jewish people escape from Nazi Germany.
Poland had long been known as a place of tolerance to people of other religions, nationalities or races. They were big on gender equality and disability rights.
Because the borders were changed so after WWII and people migrated (were deported by Soviets) back to their homelands, Poland is now the most homogeneous country ethnically speaking.
In total, Poland is a beautiful country with a rich history. I’d love to see these places in person someday.
Here’s some of the food we tried from Poland.