The Independent seems to know the answer – eat Polish food. Quite a nice article on rustic Polish food, with a couple of recipes thrown in for good measure.
Clare Rudebeck tries her hand at pierogi and herring salad and seems to be fascinated by a spicy dish called ‘leczo’. I was surprised to see that she didn’t bother to explain that in fact leczo is not Polish, but Hungarian. But then I guess the article – although focussing on Polish food – is supposed to prove that (broadly speaking) the Eastern European cuisine is the best solution for long, wintery evenings.
Now, out of all – mostly favourable – reader comments, one hit me as slightly ignorant. A reader called Sammy wrote:
Having lived in Central Europe I can say that the food is very heavy, stodgy and really nothing special. Pork, sausage, bread dumplings and practically no salad or veg. Cheap though and winter food for sure.
It’s hard to disagree with Sammy. After all, pork, sausage and dumplings (pierogi) ARE a bit heavy, even though they are all staple foods in Poland. But then she also adds:
IMHO he best food in winter time is traditional british food – all those stews, suet-made dumplings pies, puddings – YUM – and not ‘bad’ for you either as some muppets say. Sadly, you cannot get this good fare anywhere any more in the UK. Pubs do not serve it, so busy are they with their Thai/Italian messes, and nowhere does – you have to make it at home.
Hmm, you see, depends entirely on one’s point of view. I love pork, sausages and dumplings, but as a fairly educated person I also know that I need to vary my diet and I do. I have this affinity with Polish ‘stodgy’ dishes because I’m Polish. Just like Sammy with ‘traditional British food’ because – I assume – she’s British.
But just like in most Polish places you won’t see a massive variety of other, more sophisticated Polish dishes, a trip to an average pub in England leaves you with an equally disappointing, unhealthy and often ridiculously tasteless selection of bangers and mash, fish (battered) and chips (deep fried) and possibly a Sunday roast with two veg. Boiled to death.
So you see, Sammy, there might be a reason why pubs serve ‘their Thai/Italian messes’.
Image © jem via Flickr used under CC licence