If you have ever been to Poland, then you have obviously tried some of the most famous Polish dishes. Polish cuisine has come a long way through many centuries to become the super delicious as it is today. The preparation and the ingredients of the food shares some similarities with the cuisine of the other nearby countries such as Czech, Slovakia, and Germany due to the interaction that Poles have had with the residents of these nations in the past. Talking about the past, it will be reasonable to have a glimpse at the evolution of Polish cuisine.
Polish Cuisine History
During the Middle Ages, Polish cuisine comprised of agricultural product foods, wild and farm animal meat, fruits, honey, local spices as well as herbs. The dishes were characterized by high-calorie value, accompanied by a typical drink, — most frequently it was beer or mead. The food, characterized to that period was filled by an abundant of various spices which gave any dish unforgettable taste and pleasant fragrance. The main ingredient of Polish cuisine was meat from farm or wild animals and cereals (mainly millet, rye, and wheat).
Spicy sauces were prominent during the medieval period of Polish history due to the low prices of spices as a result of close trade relations between Turkey and Poland. Jucha czerwona and jucha szara were the major Polish sauces up to the 18th century.
The most popular beverages in the traditional Polish cuisine were milk, herb infusions, while beer and mead were the most prominent alcoholic drinks up to the 16th century. Kvas, due to its healing properties, was also a commonly consumed nonalcoholic drink among the early inhabitants of Poland. Initially, it was drunk by peasants. Late on, it was adopted by nobles too.
Vodka was also a common alcoholic beverage during the early period, especially among the lower-class people. Later, it was adopted by the wealthy people as well. In fact, it is suggested that vodka originally came from Poland. In the 14th century, a widely spread beverage was gorzałka — an equivalent of today’s vodka.
The Contemporary Polish Cuisine
The modern Polish cuisine is a bit different from the old traditional one. Contemporary Polish cuisine contains potatoes, pork, and domestic poultry meat. Honey was a common ingredient in the traditional baking and desserts, but nowadays it has been significantly replaced by beet sugar since the last one is cheaper and more available.
Each Polish region is characterized by its own cuisine, what makes it not like that the others. For instance, saltwater fish is a common delicacy for people who live at the Polish coast of the Baltic Sea, while the products of sheep milk are prominent among those who live in the mountains. Freshwater fish is a favorite food for people who live in Land of Great Mazurian Lakes.
Generally, the modern Polish breakfast (śniadanie) may consist of various dishes, but the sandwich is among the major ones. Open-faced sandwich comprises tomatoes, cold cuts, sliced pickles, meat spreads, kiełbasa, and cheese. Hot dogs, bread and all types of rolls are also prominent for the contemporary Polish breakfast. The breakfast may also feature eggs (scrambled or boiled), hot oatmeal, milk and/or tea.
A typical modern Polish lunch usually contains much meat. The most prominent lunch meals are gołąbki, bigos and kotlet schabowy. A Polish dish for lunch mostly comes with a soup, locally called Zupa, and the main course which Poles call danie główne. The soup may consist of a pea, cabbage, beef tripe, cucumber, tomato, rye, barley, beetroot, mushroom cream, and more other ingredients. In addition to this, the main lunch courses are steamed beef tongues, roasted tenderloin, breaded pork cutlet, spare pork ribs with honey, meatloaf with tomato sauce, cabbage with meat (and rice), backed or broiled salmon. These are just a few of Polish main courses for lunch.
Polish dinner includes three dishes: a soup, main course, and a dessert. The aforementioned lunch main courses and soups can also be used for supper. However, the main course for dinner may also come with compote or juicy fruit. A dinner dessert is mainly a cake, either poppy-seed cake, cheesecake or yeast cake.
Basically, that’s the history and the modern aspects of Polish cuisine. Just find some time to taste the modern Polish food. Be sure, you’ll enjoy it.