Polish cuisine is a mixture of many culinary traditions. The dishes are rich in meats, especially chicken and pork. Winter vegetables such as cabbage are commonly used as well as a variety of noodles. Polish cuisine is often described as being ‘more than enough’, with some dishes taking hours or even days to prepare.
The main meal in the Polish diet is lunch, traditionally eaten around 2pm. The meal will consist of three dishes with optional appetisers. Firstly, a soup will be served (most commonly tomato or bouillon), followed by an optional appetiser (a popular choice is herring prepared in either cream oil or vinegar). Other popular appetisers will consist of meat, vegetables or fish.
The main course in a Polish diet will more often than not be a very meaty dish including a roast or kotlet schabowy (breaded pork cutlet). The meat in Polish food is accompanied by either vegetables in lemon and sugar or a leaf salad. The sides are usually boiled potaotes or more traditionally kasha (cereals). Meals often conclude with a dessert such as makowiec (poppy seed cake), or drozdzówka, a type of yeast cake.
Other Polish specialities include:
- Chlodnik – a chilled beet or fruit soup for hot days
- Golonka – pork knuckles cooked with vegetables
- Kolduny – meat dumplings
- Zrazy – stuffed slices of beef
- Salceson and Flaczki – tripe
Polish cuisine used to rely heavily on spices many centuries ago, though since then Poland has had many outside influences with have brought with them change to the Polish diet.
During World War Two, Poland came under the influence of countries such as Germany and Russia, who brought with them foods such as sausages. Though as Poland was heavily involved in the war food began to be rationed and the Polish cuisine had to adapt. Dishes began to be made up of any ingredients that were available, as many meats, fruits and vegetables became unavailable.
Among the popular dishes introduced by the public restaurants was an egg cutlet, type of hamburger made of minced or instant egg and flour. Since the war, as foods became more readily obtainable, Polish cuisine has seen a return to its more traditional ways. The only thing now currently threatening it is the growing popularity of fast food. Apart from McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut which are very popular, there are many Polish pizza chains.
Pizza in Poland is characterized by the Polish habit of using ketchup on top of the pizza, rather than sauce.
There are many small-scale, quick-service restaurants which usually serve items such as zapiekanka (baguette with cheese, sometimes meat and/or button mushroom and ketchup), kebap, hamburgers, hot dogs and kielbasa.