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Sunday, 24 June 2007

 Polish cuisine

Polish cuisine features hearty and filling dishes, thick soups and sauces, potatoes, dumplings, meat and game.

The most well-known Polish specialties include:

  • pierogi (dumplings filled with meat, cheese, mushrooms and cabbage)
  • pork cutlet
  • bigos (sauerkraut and meat)
  • soups: kapusniak (cabbage soup), pomidorowa (tomato soup), rosol (bouillon with dumplings), flaki (tripe), chlodnik, zurek (barszcz)
  • nalesniki
  • pierniki (ginger bread)

You can find these dishes in traditional Polish restaurants and hotel restaurants, milk bars and bars at train stations.

Today's Polish cuisine is not as heavy as it used to be as healthier foods slowly earn their place on the Polish table. But a tendency among Poles toward dishes rich in meat and fat still prevails, as much of the population is still learning the health consequences of such foods.

Since the 6th century rye has been cultivated in Poland as the major food source. Potatoes, now an important part of a traditional Polish meal, appeared on the Polish table only in the first half of the 18th century. Among Pole's favorite vegetables are cabbage, peas, carrots, parsley, beets, turnips, mushrooms and onions. And garlic is a favorite of Polish cooks.

In the 16th and 17th century Polish cuisine was influenced by Italian and French elements. Queen Bona Sforza, the wife of King Zygmunt the Old, introduced cauliflower, celery, leeks, asparagus, lettuce and artichokes to Polish cuisine.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, during the Saxon dynasty, the tradition of great feasts flourished. A typical feast began with cold cuts and vegetable-filled puff pastries. Than came roasts, often piled up in a pyramid in great bowls: roast beef lined the bottom of the bowl, under layers of quartered veal and lamb. The upper layers of the pyramid consisted of roasted turkey, geese, capons, chicken, partridge and snipe.

Today, you'll find a wide selection of ethnic restaurants in cities across Poland, offering every kind of food available from around the world, including Italian, Middle Eastern, Japanese, Chinese, American, French, German, Mexican and many others. At home as well, Poles are widening their food selection to include both traditional Polish foods as well as influences from abroad.

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