From Andruty to Kabanosy: The Flavourful World of Polish Snacks
default, From Andruty to Kabanosy:
The Flavourful World of Polish Snacks, Bartosz Godkowski, creator of the double paluszki Beer Fingers, photo: Łukasz Cynalewski / AG, center, glodkowski_beer_fingers_ag.jpg
Each country not only has an array of traditional dishes, but also a selection of sweets and snacks you can’t find anywhere else. When you think about it, it’s actually mind-blowing, how many variations of salty crisps and crackers or sweet chocolates, jellies and cookies you can find in the world. Poland is no different: when you visit us, we recommend not only going to a traditional Polish restaurant, but also dropping by a grocery store in search of Poland’s tastiest, most typical and… weirdest snacks. Here’s our selection.
You probably already know quite a bit about the most famous Polish sweets, like Ptasie Mleczko and Prince Polo, so this time we are going to focus on foods that aren’t necessarily the most famous or, in some cases, even the tastiest, but are definitely the most unique. Don’t be shy and give them a try: it’s possible you’ve never tasted anything like them before!
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Mleko w tubce – Milk in a tube
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Gostyń milk in a tube, photo: The Dairy Cooperative in Gostyń
Condensed milk as a snack? Yes, please! Very, very sweet, very, very thick and very, very sticky, packed in a nifty little tube, mleko zagęszczone słodzone (sweetened condensed milk) is fondly remembered by many and still secretly enjoyed by some. The most famous one is produced by the dairy co-operative in Gostyń and its design is just as old-school as its flavour. There are a few versions to choose from: original, cocoa and caramel.
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Andruty – Wafers
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Andruty Kaliskie made by Ryszard Marczak Confectionery Company in Kalisz, photo: Arkadiusz Wojtasiewicz / AG
Speaking of old-school: andruty are something many of us bought in our school shops and nibbled on during recess in the early 1990s. Little did we know, these round, thin, semi-sweet wafers were actually a traditional product from the city of Kalisz, baked there since the beginning of the 19th century and sold in city parks for decades. Oblaty (the word has its roots in the Latin word oblatum which means ‘sacrificial’, and also gave the name to opłatek – the traditional Christmas wafer) are the Silesian version of this rather tasteless, yet addictive snack.
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Szyszki z preparowanego ryżu – Puffed rice cones
When few things were available in Polish shops under the communist regime, creative home cooks worked extra hard to prepare sweet treats. Puffed rice cones made with caramel krówki fudge, margarine, sometimes a bit of cocoa and, obviously, puffed rice (which you can also snack on on its own) are a perfect example. Sweet, sticky and straightforward – and making them is great fun for kids!
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Galaretki w cukrze – Sugar jellies
A long time ago, before gummy bears and jelly beans were available, the grayness of 1980s Poland was brightened by these. Colourful jellies dipped in sugar which mimick slices of citrus fruit. A memory of a long forgotten era of food colouring, sugar overloads and flavour enhancers (also known as the 1990s in Poland), they are an artificial, yet quite delicious guilty pleasure. A more elaborate sweet treat is a block of jelly, where fruity stripes are alternated with a white, milky jelly.
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Poland also has a lot to offer those of us who crave salt and fat. After all, some would say it’s the land of potato, pork and floury things – and what else do you really need from a savoury snack?
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Słone paluszki / Salty sticks
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Słone paluszki, photo: Franciszek Mazur / AG
A staple at students’ parties, book club meetings and other low-budget events, słone paluszki are one of Poland’s most popular snacks. Although these pretzels weren’t invented in Poland, they became popular in Poland in the 1970s. Lajkonik, a brand in Skawina near Kraków, and Beskidzkie are now leaders of the Polish salty-snack game. These thin, crispy pretzels are also available sprinkled with sesame or poppy seeds.
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Kabanos sausages, photo: Piotr Gamdzyk / Reporter / East News
A kabanos is a long, thin sausage made with seasoned, dried pork meat. The name derives from the word kaban – possibly of Turkish origin – which was once used to describe a piglet of good quality, usually fed with potatoes. This type of sausage was known in Poland already at the beginning of the 20th century, but became truly popular after World War II. Kabanosy are now classified by the EU as a ‘traditional speciality guaranteed’ and are Poland’s meaty snack of choice.
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Przysmak świętokrzyski – Delicacy from the świętokrzyskie region
Have you ever considered frying your own snacks? As weird as it may sound, that’s what the przysmak świętokrzyski is all about: you buy a packet of premade wheat flour or potato-based lattice-patterned snacks and you fry them yourself at home. Despite the effort needed to prepare it, przysmak świętokrzyski, produced by the Społem cooperative in Kielce, has been a popular snack since 1988. What’s appealing about it is its simplicity: just flour, oil and salt.
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Big bags with the picture of a smiling bunny named Flips are known to most Polish children. These puffed cornmeal snacks (imagine bigger Cheetos without any flavouring) are a healthier, gluten-free alternative to most crisps, often enjoyed by smaller kids.
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Last but not least, as you probably know, some big brands produce special versions of their foods just for a specific market: apparently you can buy blueberry crisps in China and seaweed Pringles in Thailand. Unusual snack flavours you can check out in Poland are definitely mushroom (because we like everything with mushrooms!), smoked meat (because we really like smoking things) and dill (because it’s one of our favourite herbs).
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As you can see, you can learn quite a lot about Polish cuisine just from a bag of crisps!
Written by Natalia Mętrak-Ruda, Dec 2018