Poland unforgettable memories

Food

What and where

Polish cuisine, this traditional and this eaten every day at home is generally slow food. Lunches and dinners prepared by mothers or wives are still more common than eating out in restaurants, where Poles go rather to celebrate special occasions or for business purposes.

A typical Pole eats breakfast at home, then he takes some sandwiches to work with him/her and after work, again at home, he eats dinner (usually between 14 and 17). Then, in the evening, he/she has supper with the family.

A traditional Polish meal consists usually of three dishes: soup, a second dish and a dessert. Soups are the specialty of the country. You can choose among cream soups like the vegetable soup, the mushroom soup or broccoli; or you can taste some heavier soups, which are especially good for colder days - the most worth trying are krupnik (with barley and meat), żurek (with potatoes and white sausage), grochówka (made of pea, with sausage), fasolowa (made of beans) or rosół (made of chicken and vegetables, usually served with pasta inside). All Polish children love also the tomato soup pomidorowa with rice or pasta and barszcz - the beetroot red soup which can be also served in cups to drink.

The second dish usually consists of some meat or fish, one or more salads, and potatoes (often smashed), rice, barley or roasted buckwheat. Meat is served in plenty of styles - can be baked, fried or cooked. The most typical name for a piece of meat is kotlet and the most common kotlets are schabowy (beaten pork, breaded) and mielony (minced pork) which is actually a hamburger. Among the kinds of fish it is worth to note pstrąg (trout) and dorsz (cod).

Poles rarely drink wine while eating dinner - more often they drink beer or non-alcoholic drinks like fruit compote - kompot (home-made juice, often apple or strawberry), fruity cocktails or sour milk, which is a national specialty.

Poles are also specialists in desserts. The variety of cakes is almost unbelievable - just to mention the most famous ones like cheese cake sernik, apple pie szarlotka (served often with beaten cream and ice cream) or ginger bread. Puddings, jelly and a hot fruit cream called kisiel are also a great finish of the meal. The dessert is accompanied usually by a cup of tea or coffee.

Restaurants

There is a rich variety of restaurants in every bigger city. They present different menus, from Polish, traditional, to these brought from all around the world. In the restaurant it is usually possible to pay by a credit card and the tips ca.10% are expected.

Pizza restaurants

The Italian pizza appeared with a great success in Poland and almost everywhere you can find places when you can eat this dish. It is usually quite cheap and almost the same quality no matter what the brand is. Of course, the international Pizza Hut also operates here. Almost all pizza restaurants have their delivering services, often free if we order in the same district.

Fast food

Every bigger city has also plenty of Mc Donald's and KFC points (also Subways, but it is still not as popular as its competitors) which serve the same everywhere and are open till late hours in the evening (usually till 11 pm.). If you want to eat something quickly in the middle of the night, you will probably find yourself in one of the copiousness of Turkish kebab points which appear from nowhere and are open nearly 24 hours.

Bars

The cheapest way to eat in Poland is a visit to a bar called bar mleczny (milk bar). It is a self-service bar where you can eat the slow food, paying tiny sums (only cash). The bars, which standard is not quite high (sitting at one table together with strangers, sometimes long queues and not pleasant interiors), are occupied mainly by students and elderly people.

For me, eating at a "bar mleczny" - or "milk bar" - is an essential Polish sightseeing experience. These super-cheap cafeterias, which you'll see all over the country, are a dirt-cheap way to get a meal, and, with the right attitude, a fun cultural adventure. - wrote Rick Steves on CNN pages (http://edition.cnn.com/2007/TRAVEL/getaways/11/16/poland/index.html?iref=newssearch )

Pubs

You can find them in the city centres, they often offer different kinds of beer and different alcohols. Usually, they do not serve any meals.

Cafes

Becoming more and more common in the country, some of them are even impossible to visit without the reservation. Offer a variety of kinds of coffee or tea (if it specializes in the first one, it is called kawiarnia, if in the second one - herbaciarnia). They are often opened till 10 or 11 pm. and there you can have sometimes problems to pay by card. But the climate of some of them is so unique, that it is almost impossible to leave them in the night.

Bakeries and confectioneries

The range of the cakes you can buy and eat in Poland is extremely wide. Poles love cookies, doughnuts and especially drożdżówki (a kind of a brioche made of yeast-cake, decorated with icing and marmalade, pudding or fruits, a bit similar to New York Bagels), so in every grocery or in a lot of bakeries (piekarnia), confectioneries (cukiernia) and small kiosks it is possible to buy them.

Water caution: Although tap water in Poland meets rigorous EU standards avoid drinking it unboiled. In some big cities it can have a bit unpleasant taste. To be sure about the right taste and clarity buy mineral water, this is cheap and easily available (just at the shop on the corner).