Celebrate Thanksgiving with Polish pierogi

Traditional Polish pierogi
Traditional Polish pierogi

As weird as it sounds, this is exactly what the US diplomats in Warsaw decided to do. And they filmed their effort.

They asked a seasoned pierogi-maker,  Ms Teresa Bart from Zambrow in Poland to teach them how to prepare traditional Polish mushroom, cabbage and onion pierogi. So she did.

There’s just one but. She doesn’t speak English. And their Polish is limited. Or non-existent in some cases.

Here’s the (hilarious) outcome.

JEMP Festival returns to London for 2013

Normally when I post something on a Sunday, it’s a music clip.  And normally it’s my post.

Today will be another music post, but with a difference. This one wasn’t written by me. For the first time in the history of this blog, I’m posting a guest post. Hooray! The text below was written by the Polski Blog’s fan and reader, Matt Lindley, who has something special for all you (Polish) jazz lovers. Matt, over to you….

Mikrokolektyw
Mikrokolektyw

Coming to London later this month will be a programme of Polish experimental and jazz music as JEMP Festival hits town. Running from 25th November to 5th December, Jazz and Experimental Music from Poland is a six-day series of concerts at various venues around the city, including Café Oto and Vortex Jazz Club in East London. From Free Jazz to Electroacoustic Improv to Noise, we take a look at three of the JEMP highlights.

Mikołaj Trzaska / Mark Sanders Duo and Mikrokolektyw

25th November 2013 at Vortex Jazz Club, Dalston

BOOK TICKETS

Formed out of the ashes of Robotobibok, Mikrokolektyw are a stripped-down duo comprising Kuba Suchar (drums) and Artur Majewski (trumpet). Both members also contribute analogue synth to the mix. Influences from Chicago’s jazz and post rock scene of the 90s are certainly evident, but Mikrokolektyw’s forward-thinking drift is entirely their own. They will be performing music from their new album Absent Minded, out now on Delmark.

Later in the evening, legendary saxophonist Mikołaj Trzaska and drummer Mark Sanders will take to the stage for a special one-off collaboration. Trzaska is best known as a founding member of Polish jazz group Miłość (see below) and has gone on to collaborate with Peter Brötzmann, Joe McPhee, Ken Vandermark and others. London-based Sanders is equally well-travelled and known for his diverse and constantly creative drumming.

Piotr Kurek & Andie Brown and Piętnastka

27th November 2013 at OTO Project Space, Dalston

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Piętnastka’s (AKA Piotr Kurek’s) massively psychedelic Dalia tape was one of the music highlights of 2011. Kurek’s music weaves synth and organ tones to create fairytale soundworlds inhabited by the ghosts of Eastern European folk music. Hearing him perform live with percussionist Hubert Zemler will be one of the high points of the festival.   

Later in the evening, Kurek will be joined by London musician Andie Brown for another JEMP exclusive. Brown has collaborated with Cindytalk and operates under the solo moniker These Feathers Have Plumes. It will be interesting to hear how her atmospheric ambient drone textures merge with Kurek’s keyboard reveries.

Miłość (Love) Film Screening

30th November 2013 at the Rio Cinema, Dalston

BOOK TICKETS

Coming to Dalston’s Rio Cinema will be a special one-off screening of Filip Dzierżawski’s documentary about Polish jazz group Miłość. Founded in 1988 by Tymon Tymański, Miłość were the first Polish band to integrate elements of punk rock, folk and techno into their sound, creating a new style of music known as ‘jass’.

Dzierżawski’s film tells the dramatic story of Miłość ten years after the band broke up, as they prepare for a reunion tour. Will the magic still be there? Expect new interviews, archive material and concert footage as the band discuss their early days and the legacy of their jass sound. The film will be accompanied by a Q&A session.

The third edition of JEMP looks set to be the best yet, so we hope you can make it down to some shows!

Additional information: For a full program of events visit the official website (www.jempfestival.com). For London accommodation check out HotelClub (www.hotelclub.com/United-Kingdom/London-hotels).

Guest post by Matt Lindley

Travel Tip: Szlak Orlich Gniazd (Trail of the Eagles’ Nests)

The Orgodzieniec Castle ruins by Mariusz Kucharczyk (Flickr, CC Licence)
The Orgodzieniec Castle ruins by Mariusz Kucharczyk (Flickr, CC Licence)

1.What is it?

A protected area  with 25 Medieval castles, often built on tall white rocks, by Kazimierz the Great, the Polish king. The trail itself is over 160 kilometres long and passes through all 25 castle sites, including the most famous Polish castle, the Wawel Castle in the heart of Kraków. Many of the castles were destroyed or damaged during the Swedish Invasion of Poland in the 17th century.

2. Where is it?

In the south of Poland, between Częstochowa and Kraków.

Pieskowa Skała Castle by Francisco Manzano (Flickr, CC licence)
Pieskowa Skała Castle by Francisco Manzano (Flickr, CC licence)

3.  Why bother?

The Trail of the Eagles’ Nests is one of Poland’s best and most picturesque trails. You don’t need to follow the entire trail, of course, you can just pick a castle and go there. The Pieskowa Skała Castle, for example (see above), is easily accessible by car and bicycle. It’s a stunning location, perched high on a tall rock, with lovely views and garden.

4. And you don’t want to miss…

… the Maczuga Herculesa (‘Hercules’s bludgeon’) rock. Called that thanks to its distinctive shape resembling a bludgeon. It’s located just a few minutes down from Pieskowa Skała.

5. Want to know more?

Watch the lovely promotional video (no, I wasn’t paid to show it, I just came across it on YouTube), created  to promote the region. Oh, and when you visit, go in the summer or early autumn…

Polish Londoners Project

Today Poland celebrates its independence day. What better day to introduce a great new project about London-based Poles. You have to admit, it seems easier to find out what Brits think about Poles rather than the other way round. Until now, that is.

Agnieszka Chmura, a London-based Polish filmmaker, has started a project called Polish Londoners. Its aim? To show people what Polish people living in London think about the city, how they integrate, what they do etc. But it’s not just about the London Poles.

Agnieszka explains on the project’s website:

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think “London”?

I think of multiculturalism. Hundreds of years of colonisation and the recent EU expansion have turned the British capital into a lively stew of all possible nations. Yet there is no awareness of different communities. How much do you know about the Polish community in London for example?

Me – not much. The aim of this project is to explore London’s mosaic of ethnicities. I start with my own tile in this mosaic, the Poles.

I want to invite creative types from other communities to build a platform where Londoners discover the true beauty of the place they live in. The beauty of the people. A bunch of short films, interviews and portraits will tell the story of who they are, what drove them here, what dreams they are pursuing.

And then she adds:

I believe it is the ordinary people who make London an extraordinary city. The project is an insight into the real hidden London and a study of its constant flow of personalities, ideas, dreams, philosophies.

Here are the first three films:

Iza, a Polish photographer:

Marek, a writer, translator and cultural animator, who’s lived in London since he was 12:

And a more recent arrival, Anna, who came to London three years ago:

This is great and I can’t wait to see the next episodes.

The project has its Facebook page and you can follow Agnieszka on Twitter.

Emmy eats Poland

Yes I was confused by that title too. But it turns out Emmy is just a video blogger (vlogger) who’s on a mission to eat her way through various international cuisines.

I didn’t know Emmy until someone sent me this video recently. It’s over a year old, so chances are you might have seen it already, after all her YouTube channel has over 150K subscribers.

Emmy was sent a rather large packet of Polish sweets by one of her viewers and in this video she bravely goes through the contents of that parcel, giving her verdict on everything. In most cases she goes ‘mmm’ shortly after biting into something, which I assume is her stamp of approval.

I loved reading the comments underneath the video (until some trolls hijacked them this morning, that is). My favourite one was: “Ptasie mleczko rulez! I can have the whole box in one day!

So can I, so can I….

The salt mine in Wieliczka is now on Google Street View

Wieliczka salt mine

Ever dreamt of visiting the UNESCO-protected salt mine in Wieliczka, but never really managed to get there? Now you can – and the best bit is, you don’t even need to worry about expensive air fares.

Google applied the same technology it’s been using for years to help us explore various cities around the world and created a 360-degree tour of the famous salt mine outside Krakow.

The salt mine first started operating in the 13th century and throughout the centuries the miners have not only been producing what once was one of Poland’s most precious commodities, but also carved out some mind-blowingly detailed and beautiful sculptures, halls and corridors.  Most of which are made of pure salt, obviously. (Yes, some tour guides do encourage you to lick the walls or the floor to see for yourself. Don’t – it *is* salt.)

A mural in Wieliczka

 

The famous St Kinga Chapel (top picture) is probably one of the most spectacular areas of the mine. Even the chandeliers are made of salt. It’s still used as a chapel, but also for classical music concerts, weddings and other occasions.

The mine itself is over 300 metres deep – not that deep compared to many coal mines – and there are almost 300 kilometres (yes, that’s right) of subterranean corridors. Only a tiny fraction of them is accessible to the public.

Wieliczka salt mine

It looks like the Google experience has recreated the most popular tourist trail, and they’ve done a great job. It’s not the same as experiencing the real thing, obviously, but at least there are no crowds to battle with…