POLSKA à la carte

Known for its medieval architecture and Jewish heritage, Poland in Eastern Europe boasts of a food scene that can lure even the most contained eaters. Melt-in-the-mouth meat dishes, butter-fried dumplings, warming spiced wine, mushrooms galore and, not-to-forget, the juiciest apples in the world

They often say – to get to know the history, culture and tradition of a country, you must sample its cuisine. And if the country would be Poland, you’d never want to book a return ticket back home. Yes, there is so much to eat and explore.

The soul of Poland lies in its food. The main meal of the day is dinner, eaten in early afternoon. Sunday dinner, prepared at home, belongs to family tradition and usually involves inviting family and close friends. What lies on most Polish dining tables is pork, but there is no shortage of beef, poultry and fish. Hearty soups are also popular. To prepare some of the tastiest local dishes, Poles often use seasonal vegetables and horseradish together with Mediterranean garlic and dill, exotic pepper, paprika, marjoram and oriental pink spice and cinnamon. But at the core of Polish taste are sweets: apple pies, poppy-seed cakes, Papel cake, cheesecakes, gingerbread etc. An obligatory addition to every Easter meal are mazurka (sweet cakes made with honey and filled with nuts and fruit) – a confection entirely unknown outside Poland.

PIEROGI – POLISH DUMPLINGS

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In the capital city Warsaw, there are many eateries solely dedicated to pierogi. Hunt for one of these to feast on pierogi in its most authentic avatar

If you thought it were the Chinese who had their copyright over delicious dumplings, you’ll be glad to know that the Poles too have their own buttery version of this light treat. Similar to Japanese gyoza or the Italian ravioli, Polish pierogi are made of thinly-rolled dough, boiled or fried and stuffed with various fillings, both sweet and spicy. There’s a lot to choose from – white cheese, meat, potatoes, cottage cheese and onions, spinach, mushrooms, groat, lentils, fruits and more. Another speciality is uszka (small, twisted version of pierogi) filled with dried wild mushrooms, dished up in clear borscht (beetroot soup of Ukrainian origin).

ALL THINGS MUSHROOM

All things 'Mushrooms'
If you happen to visit Poland in autumn, don’t forget to go for a mushroom-plucking session with a local. Picture yourself walking in a serene forest with a cane basket on your shoulder. Doesn’t it seem like a great way to spend some time in the bosom of nature?

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IN PICTURES: LAZIENKI PARK & PALACE, WARSAW

Anyone who still thinks Warsaw is a city of concrete and cement has clearly never been to the city’s lung, the breathtaking Lazienki Park. The residence of the last king of Poland is one of the most attractive park-and-palace complexes in Europe. It’s name comes from the bath house rebuilt into a palace. The park comprises three gardens: the Royal Garden, the Belvedere Garden and the Modernist Garden, altogether taking 76 hectares of land! Numerous sculptures embellish the park. Turquoise-green ducks, beautiful peacocks and friendly, adorable squirrels – all call it home. Today, the palace serves as a museum housing the royal collection of paintings.

Poles love to spend their summer Sundays here. Fear not though, for so big is Lazienki that it never gives the impression of being crowded, and even on the busiest of days, you will be able to find a quiet, shady corner somewhere!

Let me take you on a virtual tour:

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CHRISTMAS MARKET IN KRAKOW, POLAND

Somehow, I’ve always had a fascination for snow and Christmas markets, and going to Europe during Christmas time was one of the top things on my ‘travel must-do’ list. When I finally happened to plan a trip to Krakow (a city in southern Poland, near the border of the Czech Republic) this December, I couldn’t contain my happiness. I was all excited to hop on the plane and see the European town decked up with shimmering lights and pretty festive knick-knacks.

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