Sunday, 30 March 2008

I don't think you're ready for this jelly...

The unthinkable has happened.

I've started to like Polish food.

Not all of it, you understand. I can stomach a serving of mixed surówki, but I'm not going to volunteer for a plate of hardcore kapusta kiszone. While I love really dry kabanosy and some kinds of kiełbasa krakowska, I'm not awfully keen on that fat lard stuff you're supposed to spread on bread. And in terms of hot meals, realistically I can only manage about one a month. (as opposed to five in one night: do bear in mind this is about average for a typical Polish holiday/wedding/christening etc.).

On the other hand, when I was home a few weeks ago, something seemed to be wrong with normal UK products. I noticed that the bread was sort of soft. It had a kind of funny nothingy sweet taste (generic, like the American-flavoured sauces you get in Subway). There was none of that satisfying chewiness or slightly sour tang you get in dark bread here where you can really taste the rye/sunflower seeds/pumpkin seeds (there you go, I was about to write 'dynia', hurrah, I'm going native!).

And the yoghurts. My family (or my Dad at least) still nod allegiance to the Weetabix diet from time to time, and as a result there's always a clutch of WeightWatcher's yoghurts in the fridge.

They taste awful.

There's no real fruit flavour. Even the 'bits' are fake. They're runny and not filling. And the taste of aspartame lingers in your mouth all day. Yuck.

Give me Milko jogurt pitny or Jogobella any day. I'd even rather drink Kefir.

When I get a protein craving (which usually happens when I've been overdoing the obwarzanków - yes, more than five), there's nowhere better to be: kabanosy, oscypek, smoked ham... mmm...

In this spirit, the night before last, I went to the chiller at the back of the local shop downstairs and picked out a pot of galaretka.
This is Polish for 'leftovers in jelly' (a very apt translation from one of my former flatmates).
It looks like this:

But in the one I bought, there was more jelly. And some very fibrous turkey.

I must have been on a serious protein mission, or why would I ever have imagined I liked this variety of comestible?

Needless to say, as soon as it was on the plate, I realised how hard it was going to be extract turkey, eggs and peas from jelly. Suddenly there was nothing I wanted to eat less than this rubbery, resisting, globular substance. I had a flashback to 'cold meat and salad' circa 1987 and the action of trying to scrape any possible traces of aspic jelly from clammy day-old chicken breast.

There's a lesson here.
1/ Products which derive from the melted hooves of anything are Strictly Not Edible.
2/ However natural and wholesome Polish food may be, not all of it tastes nice. And much of it loses major points in terms of texture.
3/ Never trust anything you find in the freezer at the back of the sklep spożywczy, particularly if there are green bars on the windows and the checkout girl has more tattoos than your ex-metalhead neighbour back home.

If you are not familiar with this kind of food, report to Polskie Delikatesy,
117 St John's Hill, Sevenoaks, without delay.



Piotr said...

"...seemed to be wrong with normal UK products. I noticed that the bread was sort of soft..."

Hahaha. It looks you're half-Polish now. 'Bread sort of soft'. That's the one.
And btw I really enjoy reading your blog, I've started from the beginning
and have done half of 2007 so far :)

Anonymous said...

...kabanosy :D.

Kinuk said...

I like meat in aspic, but it has to be made by my Mum, as anybody else's tastes horrid.

As for yoghurts, there are Muller corners in the UK, but there are none here. They're my most favouritest yoghurts of all time. So, I gorge on them when we go back to the land of the warm pint. But Jogobella and Fantasia are fine.

Weight Watchers yoghurts taste horrid. Any low-fat, low-sugar yoghurts just don't make the cut in this family.

Also...kabanosy...mmmmmm...Polish bread...double mmmm.

Baduin said...

If you think Polish bread is good, English must be truly awful. If you want really good black break, you should buy Lithuanian one (but only if you have good teeth).

As for "lard", you should try Ukrainian "salo". Polish "słonina" is kind of gummy.But don't drink pepper vodka with it!

pinolona said...

Thanks Piotr, glad you like it! (If you get to the end first, don't tell me what happens...)

On the other hand, it's much easier to get hold of good non-English food (including Polish) in the UK than it is here (sushi... curry... mmm)

Kinuk: I'd forgotten Muller corners!! I used to live with a French girl who was totally nuts over them (and the French Never like our food). I like the blueberry cheesecake ones best... does that still count as yoghurt??

Baduin: I do indeed like litewski: but there's the hard stuff you get in the bakery and then the softer stuff you get in Alma that tastes of molasses. Both are fantastic.
I'm staying well away from the lard, thanks, and I've already had the chilli/honey ukrainian vodka experience...