Discover Poland through 7 Regional Foods
From rose jam to rooster-shaped bread, Polish regional foods are appetising and visually stunning.
This delicious ripened white cheese has a delicate milky taste. Moist and medium-soft, it comes in many variations, for example, with fenugreek or black cumin seeds. It is made in the Northwest of Poland, in the village of Korycin and the surrounding area. Local legend has it the tradition was started in the 17th century by Swiss troops, who were recuperating in the Korycin area during one of the Polish-Swedish wars.
Sometimes called ‘the oldest city in Poland’, because of a (possible) mention in a 2nd century work by Ptolemy, Kalisz is a beautiful town in Wielkopolska, the region which lies in centre-west of the country. Since the first half of the 19th century its inhabitants have been producing Kalisz wafers (in Polish andruty kaliskie), a popular sweet in Poland. The crisp, paper-thin wafers are still made by hand using traditional baking moulds called ‘irons’. They are served on their own as a toothsome and moreish snack.
The rooster-shaped butter bread is emblematic of the charming town of Kazimierz Dolny. Picturesquely located on the Vistula river and overlooked by the ruins of an ancient castle, the town is one of Eastern Poland’s best-known attractions. The bread has been made there since the before the world wars. It is quite similar in taste to the slightly sweet Jewish challah bread, perhaps because the town used to be home to a large Jewish community.
Rose jam from Stara Wieś
The name Stara Wieś simply means ‘Old Village’, so as you can imagine there are dozens of them scattered all over Poland. The one that interests us is a half-hour drive away from Kazimierz Dolny. Since the early 19th century, when duchess Izabella Czartoryska founded an English-style garden nearby, this peaceful village has had a tradition of cultivating roses. Today the irresistible local rose jam is made from the petals of a variety planted by the duchess herself.
Silesian blood sausage
Called krupniok by the Silesians ‒ not to be confused with krupnik, a type of soup ‒ this mouth-watering sausage is made from pig blood, groats and spices. It can also include meat scraps, pieces of offal and shredded onion. Krupniok has been made in Silesia since the 18th century, but it didn’t become popular until the interwar period. Usually served boiled or fried, it is very commonly encountered in the area. Similar sausages are known in other parts of Poland under the name kaszanka, but krupniok enjoys a special status in the Polish culinary world thanks to unique taste.
Linseed oil from the voivodship of Lubuskie
The voivodship of Lubuskie is one of the 16 main administrative regions of Poland. It is situated in the western part of the country, but its inhabitants are descended from migrants relocated from the eastern borders. They brought with them the tradition of making linseed oil, which lives on to this day. The oil is often made from a type of flax named szafir (sapphire) and it contains a lot of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. It should be served cold, in salad dressings.
Pańska skórka (in English: Damsel’s Skin) is a sweet encountered exclusively in Warsaw, where it is typically sold near cemeteries on All Saints’ Day when Poles visit their family graves. The exact recipe, which is over a 100 years old, is a carefully guarded secret. Nevertheless, the main ingredients are known: egg whites, rose syrup, rose jam, strawberry juice, potato flour and gelatine. The result is a hard, chewy, white and pink treat.
Author: Marek Kępa, April 2016