Monthly Archives: October 2008

How to survive winter?

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’.

More on Polish food
More on Poland in media

Image © jem via Flickr used under CC licence

Fact or myth? Dubbing on Polish TV

Is Carrie Bradshaw from “Sex and the City” a man? Does Ugly Betty speak like a middle-aged, slightly bored and cynical man? Yes. And yes. If you are in Poland, that is. Let me explain.

I’ve been asked a few times – and heard people talk about – the fact that Polish TV airs foreign shows and films with two audio tracks simultaneously. And yes, it’s true. Polish TV hardly ever dubs anything. Whether it’s “Friends” or “Reservoir Dogs” or “Fawlty Towers”, you will almost always have a guy reading the script OVER the original version, which is still audible in the background. It’s a strange phenomenon, or a habit, I suppose, but one which very difficult to change.

Polish TV stations have tried – and failed – to introduce ‘proper’ dubbing or subtitling. Public TV once showed films in two versions on the same day – with a lector in prime time and in its original version (for the linguists among us) late at night.

The habit of having one lector reading the entire dialogue in a monotonous, indifferent or nonchalant voice comes from the Communist era and – like many other habits – is very hard to eradicate. Just like the British public cannot stand when the BBC tinkers with its weather maps, the Poles won’t accept Rachel, Phoebe and Monica from “Friends” with Polish, female voices; because you must realise that almost ALL shows have a male lector, apart from animal and nature documentaries which are voiced by a female lector.

Go, figure.

More Fact or myth?

Image © Grant Neufeld used under CC licence

The Daily Telegraph and me

thePOLSKIblog got a brief mention in the Daily Telegraph – see here. Thanks! Guess I should behave now.

(BTW, Harry de Quetteville writes a good blog there – Global London – devoted to the issue of migration and in this context bemoans – well, almost – the fact that the Polish community might soon shrink rapidly as Polish migrants here have started an ‘exodus’ back to Poland.  Worth a read!)

Image © Robert Scarth, used under CC lincence

Pierogi!!

Yum! Probably one of the most popular Polish foods, pierogi is a kind of stuffed pasta, where the stuffing ranges from cottage cheese and spices to mince meat and onions. I was just browsing through my old pictures and came across this one, from a restaurantin Warsaw specialising in traditional Polish fare:

The beverage in the glass next to pierogi is fresh carrot juice, also one of my favourites. Again, just like with smalec, I don’t think I’d be able to give you my own recipe, but you can either:

  • buy them ready-made (not a good option)
  • get the recipe here (a better option)

Now I’ve made myself hungry…..

MORE POLISH FOOD >>

Londyńczycy – EastEnders come to Poland

This is supposed to be the biggest production to hit Polish TV in ages. Or possibly ever. “Londyńczycy” (Londoners) is a new soap which debuts on TVP1 (Polish equivalent of BBC1) tonight. It has been heavily promoted all over the country with massive billboards and – judging by how many UK papers have picked up on the story – by an equally huge PR campaign.

So, what is “Londyńczycy”? To be honest, until yesterday I didn’t know much about it, but if The Daily Telegraph is to be believed, it

is the first Polish programme to look at the post-accession wave of immigration, which has seen many of Poland’s young people relocate to Britain.

Alarm bells. Alarm bells. Is it all about builders and waitresses then?

Two of the main characters are Darek, a 30-year-old Polish builder who lives in Ealing, west London, and Mariola, 25, who has come to the country to become famous and to marry a rich English gentleman. The gritty storylines will tackle subjects like racism and exploitation, and the series has already been compared to a ‘Polish Eastenders’.

Er, yes, right. But it’s not all Bobski the Builder. According to The Guardian,

Visually, Londoners recalls a smart, urban show like Queer as Folk. Most Poles will admit that until now, most of their indigenous TV drama has been pretty tawdry-looking stuff churned out for very little money. But with a budget of 13.5m zloty (£3m), Londoners has been able to up the ante, filming its interior shots in Poland, where studio space is still very cheap, and splurging on flashy exteriors shot on location in London. There are scenes at Wembley stadium, on the London Eye, at the South Bank Centre and at other less postcard-familiar spots around the capital including Victoria bus station, a Polish deli and a Western Union money transfer outlet.

Can’t remember a Western Union money transfer outlet from Queer as Folk, but never mind. I’ll look out for clips of it on YouTube to see what it’s all about myself. I don’t think it will aim to show the whole picture about the Polish migrants in the UK, just like EastEnders does not necessarily represent all Londoners. After all Polish dentists and GPs are nowhere near as interesting as Polish baddies, who, according to the series producer, Andrzej Szajna

are screwing over other Poles, which is so often the case in real life.

Image © itvp

The London Meme

I was tagged in Sylwia’s The London Meme post, which means I now need to answer three simple (?) questions, just like many bloggers in London have done before me. So here they come:

1. Top three non-work websites:

  • Flickr – feeds my photo addiction
  • DPChallenge – feeds my photo addiction even more
  • Netvibes.com – not so much a website, but a feed reader, far more superior than iGoogle, imho

2. Three favourite cocktails:

  • żubrówka and apple juice – of course
  • mojito
  • Jack Daniels and coke

(I know, strictly speaking not cocktails, but….)

3. Top three karaoke songs:

Oh, dear. Not a fan. Don’t know. Can’t name. Although I remember singing Whitney Houston’s ‘I will always love you’ in Galway, Ireland, circa 1993, in the middle of the street, after a few Guinnesses too many. Does that count?

Right, so now I need to name my ‘victims’. Here they are: Jon, Epicurienne, Annie.