I can tell that I am on a diet because it is not Lent and yet here I am thinking about food. Reading cookbooks will surely follow. If Rose Petal Jam can ever be ordered for less than £20, I might finally buy it.
Polish food is quite delicious. Should anyone feel tired of life, let them start eating Polish food. It will perk them up right away. Polish customer service is, however, famously hit and miss. Benedict Ambrose and I have (or had) a favourite teashop in Kraków ruled by pair of rude and cranky old ladies. This year they outdid themselves in rudeness by locking up the shop and going away for months without mentioning this on their website.
Service at the country hotel was quite nice, though, and naturally the first thing we ate when we got there was pierogi with confit of duck. Yum, yum, yum. Well, for me that was the second thing. The first thing was chłodnik, a cold beetroot soup of incomparable tastiness.
Another evening I chowed down on a kotlet schabowy, which you and I knew latterly as a pork schnitzel, with potatoes and fermented cabbage erroneously called sauerkraut. Germans have sauerkraut and the sauer comes from vinegar. Poles have kapusta and they salt it and put it in jars. I apologise to my ancestors, but kapusta is better.
There were some experimental foods, too. Polish Pretend Son ate fish burgers so often that I tried the fish burger. The fish was a New Zealand whiptail (aka hoki, aka Blue Grenadier), fried and scrumptious on top of veggies with sauce. There was also gazpacho, which I did not like as much as glorious chłodnik.
Back in the super-traditional realm, there was a black blood sausage so ontologically bloody I couldn't actually eat it. Benedict Ambrose could. This was at the big cookout in the field put aside for parties, and B.A. also ate a flat chop called karkówka because it comes from the pig's neck (kark). I stuck to kiełbasa and salad for the duration. Well, I did have a light and fluffy piece of sernik (cheesecake).
Breakfasts were intensely good because traditional Polish breakfasts consist of sliced meats, soft white cheese, yellow hard cheese, eggs, sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, sprouts, sliced bread, boiled wieners known as parówki and a host of other good things. There was also natural yogurt made in the hotel and homemade jam to go with it.
For our last meal we all went to a pizzeria and ate cheesy crispy pizzas which were incredibly inexpensive and also quite good. In Kraków B.A. had had a pizza in an "Italian restaurant" and I had had a hamburger, which was alright, but really in Poland you should eat Polish food. We were driven to the "Italian restaurant" because it was so late, B.A. drew the line at kabobs, and the window that used to sell placki (potato pancakes) was selling ice-cream instead.
Speaking of ice-cream, the hotel had lovely sundaes, but amusingly even more memorable were the chocolate-covered Magnum Almond Ice-cream bars B.A. and I found in the freezer of the village shop. It was like meeting friends from home unexpectedly. Meanwhile, it was boiling hot, so we got one each. Just as we began to eat them in the street, the heavens opened. We rushed to a nearby bus shelter and we watched the violent storm in safety while munching away. It was marvellous.