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Polish Traditional Foods

Discover the World of Polish Food


Piotrus/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0
Polish traditional food, a cuisine that was suppressed during Communist times, is now making a comeback. Polish traditional foods consists of traditional Slavic fare, but also has influences from Italy and France that date back to the medieval Polish court. The Polish traditional foods you will encounter today are flavorful, hearty, and complex, but they have a lighter side, too.

Polish traditional food features many soups, made with mushrooms, broth, and beets. But imagine, if you will, a hearty hunter’s stew that is a meal in itself. This stew, called bigos is a combination of cabbage, mushrooms, and various meats—traditionally pork, bacon, and delicious Polish sausage, but today bigos may also contain venison or duck.

Pierogi have long been a traditional Polish food staple. They may have come from Russia in the Middle Ages, but they are as Polish as Polish food gets. Dough filled with cheese, potatoes, onions, cabbage, mushrooms, meat (or almost any other ingredient, savory or sweet, that you can think of), pierogi are served steaming hot boiled or fried and are accompanied by sour cream. Homemade pierogi are a special treat that even the pickiest eater will beg for more. A great place to get pierogi in Krakow is U Vincenta Pierogi Restaurant.

Zrazy is Polish traditional food that will stick to your ribs. A filling of bacon, breadcrumbs, mushrooms, and cucumber is rolled inside a seasoned slice of sirloin beef then fried or grilled to allow the flavors to mingle. With a side of mizeria, or cucumber salad, you’ll have a meal bursting with all the flavors of the best Polish traditional food. This chilled salad is composed of thinly-sliced cucumbers, sprigs of dill, and chopped onion in a sour cream and lemon juice dressing.

Fish dishes are also popular, especially in regional Polish traditional food. Carp, pike, perch, eel, and sturgeon are all popular and served in various ways. Pork is the most common meat in traditional Polish cuisine, but chicken, beef, venison, duck, and other meats are seen on restaurant menus today.

For desert, Polish meals will include Polish cheesecake, or sernik, apple tarts (szarlotka), makowiec (a sponge cake with a poppyseed filling), or eklerka (éclairs). Bakeries in Poland (those in Gdansk come to mind) will have many of these sweet pastries and deserts to choose from, so be sure to try them all!

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