Best of Poland: Part I

A few days ago, I came back from a two-week family vacation in Poland. We didn’t do much traveling within the country, but we did get to sample a lot of homemade, fresh, and absolutely delicious food.

In this two-part series, I’ll share over 20 dishes we tried that are indicative of the type of food my family culinary traditions are based on. Hopefully, you’ll get an idea of some of the things that could be eaten on an everyday basis in Poland, not just the “standard” fare one thinks of (pierogies, etc.).

So, without further ado:

#1: Sernik (Cheesecake)

Made in a style similar to the szarlotka I once described, this heavenly cheesecake didn’t last very long.

#2: Kielbasa

Kielbasa is the Polish sausage most people are familiar with. This particular variety was homemade and finished in the smoker behind the house over a long period.

#3: Krupnik (Barley Soup) 

This is a light and creamy soup with potatoes, barley, carrots, and dill, and is a great starter to any dinner.

#4: Cucumber Salad

A simple salad means freshly picked veggies, like tomatoes or cucumber, mixed with sour cream, salt, and fresh herbs like dill or chives.

#5: Black Currant Jam

My grandmother’s is made fresh every year and stored in the basement, ready for enjoyment at any time.

#6: Kotlety Mielone & Buraczki (“Burgers” with Beet Salad)

Mielone are burgers made with pork that are something between a classic beef burger patty and a meatball. It’s pan-fried and much softer in texture than traditional burger meat. Buraczki are simply grated beets that have been cooked with other ingredients, resulting in a surprisingly sweet salad that’s served hot.

#7: Pumpkin Soup

I’ve never had pumpkin soup before, and certainly never for breakfast. This was a day of many firsts.

#8: Fasolka (Yellow/Wax Beans)

Yellow “green beans” are very sweet and tender, and topped with a butter/bread crumb sauce, make an awesome salad.

#9: Stuffed Pork

This pork loin was stuffed with plums and wrapped in bacon. The apples arranged around the plate were also baked in the oven at the same time.

#10: Carrot Salad

Like the shredded beets, these carrots were shredded and then cooked down with butter and small bits of ham and bacon for flavor.

#11: Zucchini Pancakes

Also known as “latkes” in the U.S., potato pancakes can also be made using zucchini. This one happened to be picked fresh off the garden lot that my grandparents maintain year-round.

Stay tuned for Part II next week!