‘I hear the world is beautiful’ – said the blind man. ‘So they say’ – replied the seeing one.
The above quote is from Stanisław Jerzy Lec’s Unkempt Thoughts. Published in 1957, it is considered to be one of the most quoted Polish books.
Farmers’ Market and a Cracovian Picnic
Our travel itineraries always focus heavily on food – where and what to eat, learn to cook regional specialities, visit local markets, and meet people who talk and work on food (and drinks). Poland was in no way different. Our nine-days long Poland trip was packed and our initiation to Polish food was in Krakow. Krakow is known as a historic city and it will soon be on the global map of gastronomy. In June 2018, it was formally announced that Krakow was the first recipient of the title – European Capital of Gastronomic Culture for 2019, bestowed by the European Gastronomic Academy. From what we saw, there was definitely a wave of resurgence to learn about the history of Polish food – an emotion that had been wiped out during the greater part of the communist rule. There was also a new-found pride amongst the Polish people (definitely amongst all those new generation chefs we met on our trip) in re-discovering and experimenting with regional recipes, seasonal produce, local ingredients, and an utmost urgency to share with the outside world, the richness of Polish cuisine. Debbie, my co-partner in FoodeMag (above left) and I were guests in Poland and we immersed ourselves gladly into learning and exploring everything culinary that Poland had to offer. Our trip was curated by Monica Kucia (below), a popular food writer and organiser of events on Polish cuisine. It kickstarted with a visit to the Targ Pietruszkowy farmers’ market. The market takes place on weekends at Plac Niepodległości, and sells fresh, organic, natural and pesticide-free products produced by food producers who are located within an approx. 150km around Krakow. We bought fresh herbs, seasonal fruits and vegetables from the main market, and a variety of cheeses including the legendary smoked cheese made from salted sheep milk – Oscypek or Oszczypek (the last image in the series below), from the underground market in the square. We were headed to restauranteur and activist Katarzyna Pilitowska’s home for an interactive cooking session followed by lunch. A small deliberate detour took us to the weekend community picnic in Bednarski park, PiknikKrakowski. Kasia (Katarzyna) also organised this social event and it gave us a glimpse to the city’s evolving culinary scene. In this case, the homegrown food concepts via food trucks, stalls and popups.
Cooking class and lunch in a Polish home
Kasia’s home was a twenty-minute walk from Bednarski park, some of it along the beautiful river Vistula. We crossed a few green parks and lots of flower decked windows. The Polish summer was in full glory and both the flora and the fauna flaunted it! Located in the Kazimierz or the Jewish district, Kasia’s apartment was homely, warm and beautiful. Black and white framed portraits of the family hung on the wall, and a hammock complemented a cheerful flower-printed wallpaper on one wall. Just across the street stood Ranny Ptaszek, an all-day breakfast eatery run by Kasia and her partner Bartłomiej Suder where we lunched the following day. With slow jazz drifting along and our glasses filled with Polish wines, we were ready to cook with Kasia. The menu (shown below) showcased some seasonal and vegetarian Polish dishes, breaking the myth that Polish food was all meat! Our lunch consisted of a Salad with tomatoes, redcurrant, herbs, lettuce, Bunz (sheep’s cheese) and oil; Mizeria, a traditional Polish salad with grated cucumber, sugar, wine vinegar, sour cream, oil, dill and garlic; Cottage Cheese with honey and mint; Green beans in tomatoes and herbs; Young cabbage with dill; and some cheeses to be had with homemade berry compotes. A dessert of seasonal fruits baked in Kogel Mogel (egg yolk and sugar) signed off this brilliant lunch. Kogel Mogel is a traditional dessert made with egg yolks, sugar and flavourings such as honey, vanilla, cocoa or rum etc. Kasia added her own twist to it, with a drizzle of lavender syrup bought that day from the farmers’ market. Here’s our lunch story followed by the dessert recipe as shared by Kasia.
Have you come across any dessert that sounds as pretty as this? Kogel Mogel is a dessert that is popular in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as in Caucasus. It is very similar to a thickened eggnogg and can be made with or without alcohol. Historically, the dish can be traced to the 17th-century Jewish communities in Central Europe. It gained popularity during the Communist era of the 1980s when the availability of sweets became a challenge. So what are the other cute names that Kogel Mogel is known as, around the world? Google it … and you will find hug-mug or hugger-mugger in English, Kuddelmuddel in German, gogol-mogol in Russian,gogle-mogle in Yiddish etc! [info courtesy: wiki]
250 g seasonal fruit (raspberries, blackberries, cherries, apricots, peaches, plums, rhubarb) 4 egg yolks 4 tbsp of sugar 1 bag of vanilla sugar (like Dr Oetkar’s, approx 3tsp) lavender syrup *A recipe from Kasia
Seasonal Fruits baked in a Kogel Mogel
250 g seasonal fruit (raspberries, blackberries, cherries, apricots, peaches, plums, rhubarb)
4 egg yolks
4 tbsp of sugar
1 bag of vanilla sugar (like Dr Oetkar’s, approx 3tsp)
*A recipe from Kasia
Krakow was a revelation – old world charm combined with buzzing modern day vibe. In fact, Poland was a revelation for all of us and demands a revisit. Krakow is easily accessible too, a stone’s throw away from Dubai. Okay, a rock’s throw away, with a six hour flight by FlyDubai, in it’s recently launched route. My next few posts will unfold simple Polish recipes that we picked up on our trip, our interactions with the chefs and the people we met in Poland… and of course, a detailed week-long culinary guide on Poland. Enjoy watching our video on Poland, and please subscribe to FoodeMag on YouTube for more. And do stay tuned!
Unblogging it all… Ishita
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Krajowy Osderek Wsparcia Rolnictwa (the National Support Centre for Agriculture in Poland), Poland Tastes Good and the Krakow Municipality with the mission to learn and share about Poland and its food, cuisine, culture and culinary traditions. For more info on Krakow, visit www.kowr.gov.pl. There aren’t any affiliated links in this post and the subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own. While you enjoy reading my posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from these posts. Please join me on my daily food and travel journey on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
OTHER READS Where to eat in Krakow? Farmers Market, Cooking Class, Modern Eateries - foodemag.com Heritage and traditional Polish Food - foodemag.com Regional specialities and a trip to the local trout farm - foodemag.com Six Essential Food experiences in Krakow - coffeecakesandrunning.com
What to see in Krakow Best attractions in Krakow, Poland - sana.ae
Why Krakow? Krakow - city of gastronomy - inyourpocket.com
A week long culinary trip to Poland - FoodeMag YouTube