9 Great Polish Gifts for Christmas 2016
Stuck for Xmas present ideas? How about a beautiful book on Polish cuisine, a board game set in an alternative 1920s, or a photo album showcasing a star of the Polish Poster School? These items and more are among Culture.pl’s pick of potential Christmas gifts that’ll bring a bit of this year’s Polish culture to your loved ones, even the non-Poles.
Polish Culinary Paths
With a PhD in culinary culture, a college-level food chemistry course and a Gourmand World Cookbook Award under her belt, Magdalena Tomaszewska-Bolałek is quite the food expert. In her immaculately-published 144-page Polish Culinary Paths, she explores the food culture of her home country through legends as well as stories linked to noted Poles like Fryderyk Chopin and Bolesław Leśmian. Besides that, the book contains plenty of info about regional tastes and products, as well as sixteen lip-smacking recipes.
‘I give you a piece of my heart. Take it and eat it, all of you.’ That’s how songstress Monika Brodka commented on the release of her most recent album. Recorded in collaboration with Noah Georgeson, a producer whose resume includes working with Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart, this alt-pop LP contains songs that are all in English. The 12 tracks present Brodka’s liking for various sounds (psychedelia, rock, gospel) and include, amongst others, the energetic Up in the Hill which evokes 1960s music. Take some time to listen to all them in a row, as Clashes is an elegantly-composed whole that you’ll want to keep coming back to. Get Clashes at Amazon.com.
This stunningly-beautiful virtual reality game is a sci-fi adventure that retells Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. You play as Alice, a space traveller who lands on a remote planet in search of fuel, discovering that all of its inhabitants have gone missing. But fortunately, the game isn’t an entirely solitary affair, as The Mad Hatter and other characters from Carroll’s books all start to appear as you progress. Playing Alice VR is based on solving logical puzzles and immersing in the beautifully designed landscapes of a dreamy, alien planet, making it a pleasantly relaxing title. Available for download on PC and Oculus Rift, and fully compatible with screen devices. Get Alice VR on Steam.
One of this year's Must-Have award winners at Łódź Design Festival, this inventive and hardwearing bag is designed for people who like to be out and about at all hours. Made with cordura and reflective thread, the Cargo bag is visible up to 150 metres away – much like a road sign, but ever so more stylish. Perfect for pedestrians who want to stay road-safe but sometimes have trouble finding their belongings in the dark! Visit Cargo by OWEE.
Wojciech Zamecznik: Photo-Graphics
This dual-language catalogue was originally conceived as an accompaniment to a retrospective exhibition devoted to Wojciech Zamecznik at the Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw. A prominent artist of the Polish Poster School, characterised by much artistic freedom, Zamecznik thrived from the 1950s to the 1970s.
The album Wojciech Zamecznik: Photo-graphics includes many quality images of works from Zamecznik’s diverse oeuvre: photographs, posters, book covers, magazine designs. It also features texts describing his life and the cultural context of his activity. This tasteful publication won the Photography Catalogue of the Year award at the Paris Photo 2016 fair. Visit Zachęta's publications section.
United States of Love
In this award-winning movie directed by Tomasz Wasilewski, the stories of four women’s affections intertwine during the years Poland shifted from communism to capitalism. The main characters include a video-rental shop worker longing for a priest, a school principal having an affair with a married man, and a mature teacher of Russian with feelings for a young wannabe model.
Both a portrait of the lack of emotional fulfilment people often suffer, and Poland’s difficult political transition at the turn of the 1990s, the superbly shot and acted United States of Love won the Silver Bear for Best Screenplay at this year’s Berlinale festival.
Dubbed by the influential website BoardGameGeek ‘the most awaited game of 2016’, this strategic board game is set in an alternative version of the 1920s invented by talented Polish illustrator Jakub Różalski. Gain resources, develop your infrastructure and send monstrous mechs to conquer the lands of Eastern Europa, all within game mechanics specially devised to guarantee streamlined play that remains interesting even after many games (eg. no rounds or phases, and diverse, asymmetric factions). What adds a great deal to Scythe is, of course, the amazing graphic design and imaginative work of Różalski. Get Scythe on Amazon.com.
Many people these days are concerned about saving energy and managing our planet’s resources in a balanced way. Native is a series of seven food containers by designer Patrycja Bolzan that not only practically addresses these issues, but also does so in good style. These elegant vessels made from environment-friendly materials like clay and straw use traditional, pre-refrigerator methods to prolong the freshness of products stored within them – no electricity or chemicals required. The series includes a rustic straw basket for garlic and onions that prevents them from going bad by providing air circulation, and a container that helps bread stay fresh longer by allowing it to rest on the cut-off side. Every little helps!
Under Water, Under Earth
Finally, the most recent book from the hitmakers Aleksandra and Daniel Mizieliński that has been astounding all ages this year. This large and visually-rich full-colour publication plumbs the depths of both land and sea, revealing the hidden facts and strange creatures submerged beneath our feet. Although the Mizielińskis’ follow-up to mega-hit Maps was released late last year, 2016 was when their new book Under Water, Under Earth started becoming widely available – that means you have no excuse not to grab a copy! Get Under Water, Under Earth at Amazon.co.uk.