Food Culture and Tradition

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Meals and Customs in Poland


Polish women take great pride in their culinary abilities; even daily foods are prepared with loving care. Festive foods are often simply the daily fare in larger quantity, because (so-called) daily fare is of classic quality.

Polish meal patterns are similar to both Ukrainian and Russian in that soups, grains in the form of breads or kasza, and vegetables (mostly cabbage and potatoes) are really the mainstays of the diet. Before tea and coffee became popular beverages, it was customary to start the day with a hot filling bowl of soup accompanied by dark bread. More recently, tea or coffee plus breads and preserves start the day’s meats.

The noon meal most often includes filling soups based on grains and vegetables, accompanied by bread and beer. The evening meal may be similar, but if guests are expected or the occasion is special, the dinner will be preceded by an array of pickled appetizers, stuffed cabbage rolls (golabki), and salted and pickled fish dishes all accompanied by vodka. Soup, braised or stewed meat with cooked vegetables, and stewed fruits or home-baked or purchased pastries will complete the meal. Also enjoyed are light suppers consisting of sweet fruit soups made from seasonal berries or fruits, or light vegetable soups. A filling dessert completes the meal. These desserts may be fruit dumplings with sour-cream rice dishes, pancakes (nalesniki), puddings, or most often, cooked noodles sprinkled with cottage or pot cheese, poppy seeds or chopped nuts and sugar.

Poles are hearty eaters, and foods are always enjoyed in large servings. Most meals are served family style with diners helping themselves.

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