The elementary ingredients of Poland's cuisine are dictated by cereal crops such as rye, wheat, millet, barley and buckwheat. Rye bread is typical of this part of Europe. Bread has always had enormous symbolic importance to Poles. Buckwheat is also often seen in the Polish cuisine today. It is Poland's most popular side dish. Pickled vegetables such as cucumbers, beetroot, cabbage (sauerkraut) and kohlrabi have become an essential part of Polish cooking. The idea of pickling is not limited to vegetables; herring, fished in the Baltic, is soused with spices and vinegar and used among other things, for fasting days and holy days. This has remained as Poland's favourite national food. With the accent on storage, sour cream, curd cheese and soured milk have become important constituents of the Polish kitchen. Fresh cream and milk would be left to ferment. These dairy products have become an essential element in the taste and flavour of Polish cooking. Meat plays a significant importance in the Polish diet. Perhaps the most famous Polish meat known is the kielbasa, the Polish sausage. Polish food has much to offer, and I for one enjoy its robustness. As the Polish would say, "Jedzcie, pijcie i popuszczajcie pasa"... "Eat, drink and loosen your belt".
A POLISH CHRISTMAS
I spent my first Christmas in Canada with Peter's family. The festival is celebrated on the evening of 24 December. Known as Wigilia, it is the most important culinary event of the year. The dishes are meatless. I read that at one time, the dinner consisted of twelve courses representing the twelve apostles.
Just before dinner, the family will gather at the dinner table and break bread. A piece of a blessed communion host is broken, eaten and passed from one member of the family to the other.
Here is a sample Christmas Eve dinner menu.