Food & Drink

Poland Food & Drink

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Traditional Polish cuisine is a delicious caloric temptation. Rich in all kinds of flavoursome meats and vegetables, Polish food relies on seasonal produce that is locally honed to perfection.

Meals usually start with comforting soups before progressing onto main courses which live up to their heavy but nutritious reputation.Finally, a meal is not complete without a selection of desserts and neatly concluded with a digestive shot of vodka.

Whilst traditional food is a reliable source of gastronomical pleasure, recent foodie trends in Poland have given birth to some amazing restaurants that specialise in a new repertoire of contemporary cuisine offering diverse food options. Vegetarian and even vegan cafés also on the rise. Regardless of where you eat, Polish food provides a dependable indulgence bound to comfort all travelers.

Traditional Polish Food

The most typical ingredients used in traditional Polish food are sauerkraut, pork, mushrooms, beetroot, cucumbers, mushrooms and fresh herbs. You can view a useful Polish food glossary here.

A typical meal in Poland traditionally begins with a zupa (soup) such as żurek (sour rye soup), barszcz (a red beetroot soup) or rosół. This is usually accompanied by a hard-boiled egg or kiełbasa (Polish sausage) with chleb (bread).

Main staples include bigos (sauerkraut stewed with a meat), gołąbki (stuffed cabbage rolls), golonka (pork knuckle), and the famous pierogi (Polish dumplings). 

Pierogi are stuffed with anything from minced meat, potato and onion, mushroom and cabbage, and cottage cheese to cinnamon and fruit. Pierogi can be eaten as a mouth-watering snack or as part of a fancy dinner.  With so many tastes and textures, many visitors return home with a newfound love for these cute little dumplings. Vegetarians will have a lot to be happy about as well as many popular types of pierogi are meatless.

Desserts are typically comprised of cakes and pastries, along with a shot of vodka, which if you are eating at someone’s house, is likely to be home made.

Polish Pierogi
Polish pierogi are world famous dumplings filled with meat, vegetables or fruits

Milk Bars

A mleczny bar (milk bar) is a type of cafeteria that is unique to Poland. Originally a form of cheap eating for workers in socialist times, milk bars provided no-frills, self-served food at very low prices. Since then, milk bars have evolved and thrived to provide a unique culinary experience which reflects a fusion of culture, politics and history. Here, you can learn while you eat and gain a deeper understanding of Poland whilst licking your lips!

Found throughout all Polish cities, milk bars offer many of Poland’s traditional favourites including delicious soups, various cabbage-based salads, pierogi, pork chops, and pancakes. They also stock a range of Polish pastries such as pączki (glazed donut filled with wild rose-jam).

With menus posted on the walls, service is straight forward: tell the cashier what you want, have the food weighed, then pay. Once you’ve finished your meal, simply return your dirty dishes to the washing tray.

Milk bars are extremely popular with locals due to their delicious food and incredibly affordable prices so come earlier rather as there may be queues.

Polish Milk Bar
Milk bars are affordable canteens where locals eat popular home made dishes

Vodka & Beer

Poles love their wódka (vodka) and make some of the best in the world. Only the Russians drink more per capita. Although most Poles normally relax over a glass of beer or wine, vodka remains the national Polish drink of choice for gatherings, holidays and special occasions.

As well as the czysta (clear) variety, it’s well worth trying the many flavoured types. Whilst there are many different varieties (especially from local fruits), the king among Polish vodkas is Żubrówka, known for its distinctive infusion with bison grass.

Ideally served neat and cold, vodka drinking etiquette follows a few basic rules. Vodka is typically drunk from a 50ml shot glass called a kieliszek and washed down in one single gulp. “Do dna” (to the bottom), Poles say as glasses are immediately refilled for the next drink and so on. Cheers in Polish is na zdrowie!

Piwo (beer) is also becoming increasingly popular in Poland and is readily available everywhere. Prices are cheap just like in Czech Republic, and even in Warsaw you will not pay more than 12zł for half a litre. There are many brews worth tasting and the best include Żywiec, Okocim, Lech and Tyskie. During winter months, piwo grzane (hot beer) is a popular refreshment that is served with cloves, cinnamon and honey.

A wave of craft brewing is also taking the country by storm resulting in many homegrown varieties of beer, particularly in the larger cities where small but steadily growing micro brewing communities are springing up.

 

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