One thing I’ve discovered is that mealtime traditions are not the same worldwide, and there are times when you want to go out of your way to do something familiar for your guest. After all, food is a love language and I’m here to help you prepare a Polish meal!
Last year, a young Polish woman, who was engaged to one of our American friends, sent me a private message on facebook saying, “Help! It’s my first Thanksgiving; what do I do?” But the question could also be reversed. What do you do if your someone special is Polish?
Cooking a Polish meal
Coming from my American perspective, let me tell you what I’ve noticed about meals in Poland.
Śniadanie (sh-neea-DAN-yeah) is breakfast. When Ed was in the hospital, breakfast every morning was a cold cut sandwich. Polish hotels will offer many more choices, but breakfast tends to be less sweet and less fried than the American version. In addition to cold cuts and bread, you might find jams, yogurt, hard boiled eggs, fresh tomatoes, cereals.
Second breakfast or drugie śniadanie is a charming Polish tradition, and my favorite Polish meal. It’s often coffee and cake, kind of like an American coffee break or elevenses in the British Isles.
Obiad (oh-BE-odd) is dinner, the main meal of the day, usually eaten in the afternoon. It starts with soup (Poland’s favorite first course), and includes a veg (often a root veg), meat (pork and chicken are very popular), and lots of potatoes (boiled or mashed), usually with a yummy gravy that might be seasoned with horseradish and dill.
The evening meal, kolacja (ko-LOTS-ia) is light and informal. It may just be soup or a sandwich of cold cuts.
This, of course, is subject to change depending on the circumstances. We’ve been invited to an evening meal in a Polish home many times, and we’ve never been served a ham sandwich.
On the contrary, we have always been served a feast with so many items on the menu, that my only reference for comparison would be a holiday meal for extended family in the United States. The dishes aren’t necessarily complicated, but there is an emphasis on quality and freshness, and the meals usually go on for hours. Seriously, three hours at the table is not unusual for a Polish meal with guests.
Don’t panic! It’s not necessary to pull out all the stops. Let me share some of my favorite Polish recipes (all of which involve no last minute prep and can be made a day or two in advance). You might add a relish tray with pickles and olives, fresh tomatoes or a selection of cheese for your own feast. Just click on the photo to see the recipe.
Homemade tomato soup, you’ll never want tinned soup after having the real thing.
A Polish hunter’s stew for the carnivore
Polish apple pie is even better if made 1 day in advance. I love that!
One cultural difference I have noticed, is that Polish dinner guests are expected to sit at the dinner table as soon as they arrive, and they tend to stay there. I think we have made a hostess uncomfortable more than once because we were reluctant to sit at the table until our hosts were ready to join us. So if your Polish sweetheart arrives for dinner and plunks down at the table right away, now you’ll know why. Check out match.com for more Polish dating inspiration.
This post is sponsored by match.com