Monthly Archives: March 2009

Visit Poland with the Londoneer

During a recent bloggers meet-up in London I had a nice chat with many bloggers, but missed one, whose blog – The Londoneer – I discovered post factum.

The Londoneer is well-travelled and recently published a couple of posts after his visit to Lodz, an old industrial city in the heart of Poland, not far from Warszawa. So I got in touch with Pete, the blog’s author to ask if I could republish some of his pics and quote his Polish posts here.

I like the way he writes about Poland – trying to explain why things are the way the are, how the history shaped the country, its cities and people, paying an equal amount of attention to the ugly side of Lodz:

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We were a little surprised to discover exactly how ugly Lodz is, for the most part. It has no beautiful main square like most big Polish cities, not even a reconstructed one – the one here is the ugliest town square I’ve ever seen – a brutalist 1950s communist replacement that is being allowed to slowly decay.

as well as the nicer one:

It’s not all doom and gloom however. Strangely, whilst the city is ugly, its citizens are beautiful – in fact I have never seen so many attractive people all in one place. Walking around the city centre was like walking around a film set or through the pages of a fashion catalogue. Also, its really worth noting that Lodz’ inhabitants have an unusually sunny and friendly disposition – the nicest folk in Poland I have encountered so far.


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You can find out more about the once thriving industrial city here and about its dark past here.

Also, check his post on the beautiful city of Wrocław (below). There are some lovely descriptions of Wrocław’s architecture, its people and some great tips for eating out too.

wroclaw

I wonder if any of you have been to Lodz or Wroclaw – if so, what do you think? Do you agree with Pete’s impressions of those places?

All images ©thelondoneer, reproduced with the author’s permission

Polish sausages

My good friend from uni, Kasia, came to London last week for a short trip with her students.

“What do you want from Poland?” she asked me over the phone. Hmm, the list can run into pages – new music, good books, a bottle of good vodka, sausages.

“Sausages,” I said without hesitation. “Actually just one, we have Polish shops in London nowadays, so I’m sure I can find some yummy smoked sausage here too. Surprise me.” So she did. Here’s the result (vegetarians, look away now):

polish-sausages

Now, this picture doesn’t feature any of the sausages we managed to eat pretty much straight away, apologies for that,  but as it’s a nice selection anyway (or what’s left of it) I thought I’d use this opportunity to introduce you to some of the best Polish sausages around.

1. Kabanos – just to clarify and satisfy the linguist in me, ‘kabanos’ is actually singular, the plural form is kabanosy. This type of sausage has in recent years found its way to Sainsbury’s cold meats section, where it can nowadays be found alongside chorizo, salami slices and other widely known European sausages. This dry, smoky and peppery sausage in its purest form is usually quite long (up to 60cm), is made from pork, but don’t be surprised to find other varieties too – with turkey, chicken and even wild boar on offer, depending on where in Poland you buy it. There are also shorter kabanosy which you need to boil in water, but however you choose to eat them, they’re divine. My favourite.

2. Krakowska sucha – aka Krakauer, a chunky, pork sausage named after Kraków, the city. Garlicky, usually herby and smoked it can be sliced and fried, but it’s best enjoyed as a cold meat, on a sandwich or on its own. I’ve seen a thinner variety of Krakowska at a Christmas market in London, where it was just boiled and served with bread an mustard, but the big one is a classic.

3. Polska surowa – now we’re talking sausage from the top shelf here, ok? Think Polska surowa, think chorizo or saucisson. Dry, pepery pork sausage which takes some time to mature, but then bursts with flavour (god, I should become a copywriter). I can’t think of any other uses for it apart from savouring from time to time. Yum.

4. Jałowcowa – Poland wanted to protect jałowcowa – together with kabanos and myśliwska (hunter’s sausage – sorry I missed it from the above picture, but we finished it before I managed to take the picture) – as a typical Polish sausage. The application to register them as a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed was lodged with the European Commission in January 2007, but so far it hasn’t been approved, as far as I am aware. So why exactly are we trying to protect it? Jałowcowa, apart from the usual suspects – pork meat and black pepper – contains juniper, which gives it its unique flavour. I kind of want to barbeque it, make it smoky and enjoy it with a slice of fresh bread and a cold beer….

5. Kindziuk – now, I have to say, this one is new to me. I even had to Google it. Kindziuk seems to be a Lithuanian speciality, which found its way to Poland. It’s made out of the finest pork cuts, can be really fatty and garlicky and according to this Wikipedia article, it can be used as a basis for various soups. I got two varieties, one with garlic, one with big peppercorns and it reminds me a bit of salami or sliced chorizo. It’s quite popular in north-eastern Poland.

Well, I have to say, the next few weeks will be a bit heavy food-wise, but let’s say I’m doing it in the name of research.

Next time Kasia comes to London, I’ll request a selection of alcohols….

Do not adjust your TV sets!

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Some discoveries surprise me more than others. I have only just learned that Poland might be a byword for extreme sports. Well, some extreme sports.

A Polish website reports on a regular contest, which allegedly has already been taking place in a remote part of north-east Poland for 19 editions (how did that bypass me?) – the Annual Throwing of a Hammer at a TV Set competition. I’m sure they have a better name for that.

And the contest itself? Well, it does exactly what it says on the tin. People throw hammers at a TV set.

But it has two parts – you can either throw your your hammer at a TV standing atop a tall pole, or you can run for 1,5 kilometers and try and hit the TV. The last one is a bit unclear to me, but still, does it matter?

Ladies and gentlemen, underwater ironing is soooo last year.

Image © lawgeek via Flickr, used under CC licence

Polska? Polski? Confused? – polish your Polish, part 12

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My previous post made me realise some of my readers might be a bit confused now. Why ‘Polska’, if the blog is called ‘Polski’? What’s the difference?

Well, let me confuse you even more.

‘Polska’ can be used as a noun, a proper name – simply the name of the country, Poland.

But ‘polska’ (with a small ‘p’) can also be used as an adjective meaning ‘Polish’, but only when used with a feminine noun or while referring to a feminine subject.  Still with me? So for example ‘polska kiełbasa’ (‘polish sausage’) is feminine. (No giggling at the back!)

Which shouldn’t be confused with ‘Polka’ (capital ‘P’, no ‘s’), which is again a noun, meaning ‘a Pole’ (feminine). A Polish woman or girl, in other words. A Polish man is ‘Polak’. See the subtle difference in spelling between these two.

‘Polski’ is also an adjective, used when referring to masculine nouns. The word ‘blog’ seems to be masculine, hence the Polski blog.

Simple, eh?

More ‘polish your Polish’

Image © teotwawki via Flickr, used under CC licence

Polska! Year

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Good news if you live in the UK and want to experience more Polish culture locally. For the next year cities all over Britain will participate in an initiative called Polska! Year. According to the organisers’ website,

The purpose of the Year is to bring communities of Poland and Great Britain closer by strengthening cultural relations, establishing new contacts between Polish and British artistic institutions, artists and organisers of cultural events.

Polska! Year is a joint initiative of the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the cultural programme of the Year is coordinated by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, which is responsible for the promotion of Polish culture abroad.

From Perth and Edinburgh to Bradford, Cardiff and London, Polska! Year will offer an opportunity to experience the finer aspects of the Polish culture – from the classical performances of Karol Szymanowski’s music to Tomasz Stańko’s jazz concert in Norwich. From the Wild Poland open-air photography exhibition on the South Bank in London to Kinoteka, the Polish film festival. From contemporary dance performances to the Symbolism in Poland and Britain exhibition at Tate Modern.

It actually sounds really exciting and I’m really hoping this will give people some exposure to the lesser-known aspects of Polish culture.

Hopefully I’ll be able to give you an update as soon as more events are announced, for now all current events are available from their website (in English, of course).