Polish Food
Complete Guide That Will Rock Your Tastebuds

05.09.2018

Have you already tasted Polish food? polish-food-obrazek

If not, change it as soon as possible!

To be honest, Polish food is one of the most delicious cuisines in Europe and the whole world!

Thanks to this post, you won’t miss any specialty of the traditional polish kitchen and you will fall in love with it!

So if the Polish Food Crawl is not enough for you, find out what to try on your own while being in Krakow!

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Dumplings aka ‘pierogi’

Polish food facts

Polish food is perfect for those who crave comfort foods. Traditional Polish cuisine isn’t’ very fit, but it tastes delicious!

But do you know, how to describe Polish cuisine?

What you will totally love about Polish food are:

  • big portions
  • extra adds like sour cream, butter, and roux (to almost every meal)
  • a lot of meat dishes with vegetables, mushrooms, and groats
  • surprising connections of seemingly mismatched ingredients (like herring and cream)
  • ingredients are usually fried or stewed, so dishes are full of deep, delicious taste!
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Mushroom soup

So be prepared for amazing dishes like delicious schnitzel, hearty cabbage stews and meaty sausages, famous polish doughnuts, crumpets, and pancakes.

Keep some free space in your stomach for kilograms of potatoes, cabbage, and pork which are staples of traditional Polish food (although they don’t sound exceptional!).

"I was surprised how far Poles can go to create hundreds of satisfying dishes!"~Sylvia

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Polish Schnitzel ‘kotlet schabowy’

But do you know why Polish food tastes the way it does?

Let’s go back in time and discover the Polish food’s roots!

History of Polish food (in a nutshell)

A little bit of Polish history will help you to understand the phenomenon of Polish food.

  • In the middle ages, Polish cuisine based on wheat, meat, fruits, herbs, honey, and spices – everything was local and grew out of Polish soil. Those times Polish food was quite spicy and calorific. What’s interesting, polish people were drinking a lot of local beer then (not wine as in most European countries). Flatware was not in use so everyone relished the food only with their hands.
     
    polish-food-uczta
    Bronisław Abramowicz, Uczta u Wierzynka

     

  • The location of the country and its relations with other states had an impact on the final shape of Polish cuisine. A very strong tradition of hunting was also not without significance. Polish cuisine has a great respect for forest fruits and mushrooms, that is why Polish people are still organizing lovely family trips to the woods in their free time.
  • Meat, fish, and vegetables were preserved with salt or by the sundrying process. Polesoften used the fermentation and pickling process as well.
  • During the partitions, many accretions of other countries influenced Polish cuisine. Finally, Polish food is the effect of best cooking traditions of neighboring nations (like Czech, German and Austro-Hungarian).
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Polish cake with apples

Are you wondering what pickling is?

You have to find out and try Polish pickles (at least once)!

The Art of Pickling

It can be said that most Polish people are obsessed about perfectly pickled cucumbers and cabbage. When the season for these vegetables begins, you can see people buying them by the kilograms and trying to perfect their pickling technique.

Probably not the best-known fact about sauerkraut is that the probiotics in it improve digestive health which gives us even more reason to enjoy it.

But what must happen to turn a fresh cucumber into a pickled cucumber?

We present you a little tutorial:

So: Cucumbers, water, salt, garlic, dill and horseradish are combined and left for a couple of weeks to make dill pickles (ogórki kiszone), while sauerkraut is made from cabbage, water and salt, sometimes with the addition of grated carrots.  There are endless possibilities when it comes to cooking with sauerkraut as can be seen by many traditional Polish dishes.

And the effect presents like this:

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Pickled Cucumbers

You have to try Polish pickles! Those “Polish tapas” are perfect together with cold vodka as a snack after fast shot! You can find them in many restaurants in Krakow.

But pickles are not only one Polish food’s specialty that you have to know closer!

Stay with us and continue a delicious travel trough Polish famous dishes!

The gems of Polish food

We are warning you! Don’t continue reading unless you are full! 

(otherwise, we recommend joining folk show with dinner)

Bigos – Polish hunter’s stew

In bigos sauerkraut acts as the main ingredient but in fact it is a combination of sauerkraut, mushrooms, sausage, bay leaf sometimes even dried plums.

Considering Polish Food, you probably heard about it often!

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Preparing bigos

Preparing bigos is not easy, so be prepared for few hours of hard mixing with a wooden spoon.

Secret trick:  If you want to make bigos properly, put it aside to rest in the fridge for a couple of days for the richness of the flavors to be fully appreciated.

It is a hearty meal that can fill you up. It is not as famous as the pierogies, though.

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Bigos

By far the best known Polish food is pierogi, delicious flour dumplings with a variety of stuffings can be found throughout the country and are also famous abroad.

Do not even try to miss them!

Pierogies - the most popular Polish food

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Polish dumplings

Do you recognize that shape?

The dough for pierogi is prepared from flour, water, and salt (sometimes eggs as well). Then it is rolled on the kitchen table and cut into the wheels with a glass.

The most common stuffings are:

  • ground meat
  • a simple combination of potatoes and cottage cheese
  • sour mix of sauerkraut and mushrooms

Most restaurants serve a wider selection of pierogies, for example with spinach, lentils or tomatoes and cheese.  Savory pierogies can be eaten straight from the water with the addition of several toppings of which the most common is a fried onion with oil, pierogies can also be fried to crispness.

polish-food-info
source: djaunter.com

Sweet pierogies are not considered a desert! Those with a sweet tooth can pull off eating these for dinner! They are usually stuffed wild blueberries, strawberries or sour cherries.

These delicious little dumplings are served with sugar and cream. Wild blueberries are certainly a treat as they are a far cry from the mulberries that are known as blueberries in the west.

Do you want to try them right here, right now? (what does not surprise us!)

These two places serving pierogies in Krakow are highly recommended:

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Pierogis with blueberries

Remember! Trying pierogi is one of the best things to do in Krakow!

Do you think that now you know everything about pierogi?

You fool! :)

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source: me.me

Tiny pierogi (uszka)

Classic pierogi have their smaller cousins, we call them “uszka”.

Molded in a way that resembles little ears, uszka are typically stuffed with sauerkraut and mushrooms and served in a sweet and sour beet soup called barszcz (borsch).

This dish is very popular during Polish Christmas Eve as one of twelve dishes. Barsz can be ordered “clean” without anything floating about, so don’t be surprised if you get this soup in a cup!

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Barszcz with “uszka”

But most of the time there will be little “uszka” inside the bowl.

These are special crepe that is filled with sauerkraut and mushrooms, rolled up and cooked in boiling water. That dish is a great option for vegans.

It was just a beginning! Are you ready for the next part of Polish food menu?

Soups are an important part of Polish food

You’ve already heard about barszcz, but there are much more soups you can discover, so get ready!

Polish dinner which is eaten around 3 o’clock usually consists of two courses – soup is always the first.

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Popular in Poland beetroot soup

Interesting fact: In Poland, the word BAR does not necessarily mean the same thing as pub. Most often it is a cheap milk-bar that offers traditional Polish dishes. So, when ordering the meal of the day at an inexpensive ‘bar’ or restaurant you will most likely get one of many Polish soups. If you are looking for creamy soups Poland is not the place for you as almost all traditional soups are rather chunky.

Famous Polish soups that are unique and surprising when eaten for the first time are:

  • żurek
  • flaki
  • szczawiowa
  • barszcz
  • rosół
  • krupnik

Of course you should try them all, but first, we will try to describe the taste of some of them!

Żurek

Żurek is kind of sour soup and is made on a base of sourdough and meat with plenty of margery. It includes pieces of white sausage and boiled egg and is sometimes served in a bowl made of bread.

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Żurek in bread

Flaki

Are you an especially adventurous person? If yes, flaki, which translates to tripe soup is highly recommended.

Szczawiowa

Szczawiowa is made of sorrel which makes the taste slightly sour. That soup is also served with a hard-boiled egg. Sorrell grows almost everywhere in the summertime and you can sometimes spot people picking it in the forest or around town to prepare a soup.

Don’t you have enough of soups?

Don’t be surprised that in the most Polish cards you will find rosół (chicken soup) pomidorowa (tomato soup) or krupnik (groat and vegetable soup) as well.

Interesting fact: Polish chicken soup is definitely different than in other countries.

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Rosół

Secret trick: A fun trick often done in Polish homes is to take leftover chicken soup from Sundays dinner and turn into tomato soup for the next day :)

Now it’s time for Polish main dishes!

Special offer

Main dishes - the pride of Polish food

Kotlet schabowy

The king of Polish food served in every casual restaurant in Poland is kotlet schabowy(schnitzel).

It’s a simple breaded pork served with a side of boiled, mashed or fried potatoes and one or more salads called surówka. These salads are not the same as everywhere, they consist of different combinations of finely cut vegetables that are usually raw.

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Kotlet schabowy

Typical polish surówka is usually made of:

  • raw cabbage
  • carrots and apples
  • cucumber with cream
  • sauerkraut
  • grated beets

Of course, schnitzel is not the only type of meat eaten in Poland!

Goulash, meatballs and chicken roulades

are also common and they are served in the same way as schabowe.

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Gulasz

Golonka

Sounds funny? Golonka, in fact, is a pork knuckle and it’s also worth a try. It’s usually marinated in beer, and tastes the best served with… beer as well!

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Golonka

It’s another dish that can be enjoyed by brave tourists.

Tatar

Tatar is essentially made up of all ingredients that are required to make a hamburger, except they are all served raw and unmixed. Upon ordering tatar you receive a small pile of raw ground beef with an egg cracked upon it. Next to it you will usually find raw onion, pickles, spices and dill. It is not common in all regions of Poland, but you can still find it in many restaurants.

polish-food-tatar
Tatar

Potato dishes are also very popular Polish food.

Placki ziemniaczne

When you will be in some restaurant, don’t forget to order placki ziemniaczane. These are potato pancakes, usually served with sugar, sour cream or meat gulasz.

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Placki ziemniaczane

Kopytka

Kopytka are kind of Polish gnocchi. The only difference is another shape (they look like a horse’s hoof, what is kopyto in Polish language). Kopytka are often eaten plain or with butter and sugar or meat sauce.

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Kopytka

Ready for something sweet?

Delicious Polish desserts

Poles love cakes and pies! That is why you will find a variety of multilayer cakes and baked goods in every bakery. However, the fried desserts are the essence of Polish cuisine.

So, let’s start with what everyone has been waiting for!

Pączki

Polish doughnuts called “pączki” are usually glazed with icing sugar and filled with different types of jams. The most common ones are made of plums and rose petals. They are absolutely delicious and cannot be missed!

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Pączki (Donuts)

Faworki

Angel wings, called “faworki” in Polish, are another fat treat that is eaten alongside doughnuts on ‘Fat Thursday’ (the Polish equivalent of Mardi Gras). They are bits of fried dough coated with powdered sugar.

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Faworki

Racuchy

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Racuchy

Another indulgent desert is Polish apple pancakes called “racuchy”. They are puffy thick pancakes with a slice or small pieces of apple inside.

Do not forget!

Polish food is a never-ending topic and must be experienced in order to be fully appreciated.

Whether you’re looking for comforting fried foods, warm soups and tasty schnitzel or new tastes that you won’t find anywhere else – Poland is the place for you!

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Poland is also known for the best sausages!

You can not leave Poland without Krakow walking tour and trying every dish from our list as well!

So at the nearest opportunity go to the one of the polish restaurants and be sure, that you are really hungry. Bigos, pierogi, żurek, schabowy and racuchy are waiting for you to try!

Just look for that happy couple who already did it!

 

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