So I just booked some flight tickets to Poland for Easter. I will be out of Estonia for this period and it makes me quite happy as definitely – I would prefer to spend this time with my family instead of all alone and abroad. This led me think about what I miss about Poland and the first thing that appeared was… food. But not just food, it’s the local food that I would really love to eat right now.
There are some certain dishes that are common to my region however there is one thing that links them: most of them are made from potatoes. My region is still considered to be one of the poorest in Poland and when those dishes have been introduced – potatoes was the one of the vegetables that were commonly grown by locals. It kind of reminds me of the story for pizza creation – as initially it was done for the people in Italy who could not afford any specific food and had to rely on this dish.
The name of the region is “Suwalszczyzna” which is pronounced in quite a complicated way due to sz and cz being just next to each other :) This part of the world is divided between Poland and Lithuania – and in Lithuania it is called Suvalkija or Sūduva.
From Kartacze to Kiszka
I think that the dish that is mostly associated with my town is “Kartacze” – if I am planning to explain it to anyone from Poland I am saying that this is “bigger version of pyzy” which is not exactly through. Kartacze are made from cooked and uncooked potatoes with meat filling and they are of a size of a middle sized fist. Uncooked potatoes must be squeezed through the cloth to remove all the water they have after they are grated. Starch that goes from that water is also used during cooking. The whole preparing process is extremely long (like 4-5 hours) but the result is extremely delicious. And yes – three big cooking pots are usually eaten after 2 days because all the people in my family just love them.
That is how Kartacze look like. From http://www.kuchniaukrysi.blogspot.com
Polish Kartacze are actually a variation of Lithuanian Cepelinai. If you asked which dish was invented first – I am sure that Poles would say these were Kartacze while Lithuanians would say these were Cepelinai. Still – I don’t want to get into this discussion as such debate is not possible to be solved in a normal manner.
The main difference between these two dishes is the way Cepelinai and Kartacze are served. Lithuanians serve Cepelinai with cream while Poles would never do it this way. We are serving it with fried onion and pork scratchings. So most probably the Lithuanian version is with less calories, though the dish itself is surely not recommended to anyone who is on a diet :)
Cepelinai – as you can see they have cream and pork scratching… in Kaunas I ate the variation without pork scratchings though (from mamosreceptai.lt)
2. Babka ziemniaczana
Babka ziemniaczana is a type of a potato pie. This potato pie is made from potatoes mixed with meats (usually bacon and sausage), onions, eggs, potato flour and herbs. Potatoes must be grated, water has to be squeezed and then it all has to be mixed together. Before the meat is added, it has to be fried. The fact that meat is added makes the dish moist instead of being dry. The dish has to be baked for around 90 minutes.
This is potato pie called babka. Simple, but lovely!
Babka is now made in the whole country but it is considered to be the regional dish from my area.
At my home we eat it with ketchup, garlic sauce or salads. My dad also makes a vegetable variation which is equally delicious (much more moist though and sometimes falls into pieces while being cut ;) ).
3. Kiszka ziemniaczana
This might sound horrible for some, but it delicious. It is just an intestine designed for the purposes of creating a sausage filled with a potato and meat mixture. This dish is then baked in the oven. Of course, it is time consuming but the effect is excellent – inside it’s soft and outside it is crispy.
Kiszka is ready! From http://www.przyslijprzepis.pl
Something sweet for a change
My part of Poland is also famous from 2 cakes. Both are traditional and it is said that the original ones can only be bought in my area. I tend to believe that.
The translation I found is “tree cake”, not sure how accurate is that, but it’s definitely somehow connected. Sękacz in Poland is made both by bakeries, but also – in the villages where the recipe is given from mother to daughter. The tradition last many, maaany years and I can tell you that there are some people that are popular makers that have a lot of work before Christmas and Easter – people just order tons of such cakes for their celebrations tables!
Ready Sękacz – from http://www.sekacze.net
Sękacz does not have cream and is not particularly soft. Some people make it with chocolate – you can find a chocolate coated sękacz in the grocery stores like Tesco. For us, people from Suwałki it is actually a profanation of this cake… but yes, some people like it this way.
Also, there are some people in different parts of Poland who think that sękacz is a candy bar. Yes, there is a bar at the same name, but it’s not the same thing.
Literally: anthill, but it does not include any ants fortunately :) It includes so-called “Angel wings” (the same ones that I wrote about when I wrote about Fat Thursday tradition), but with a twist. They are connected with each other with honey and also – they have added poppy seeds and raisins. I like the sweetness of it, but for me it’s definitely too sticky! My family loves it though.
Mrowisko (anthill) cake. You just eat it by ripping it off… nice :) From http://www.sekacze.net
PS. This is most probably another dish that comes from Lithuania originally. It is mostly made in the Lithuanian part of Poland, around Sejny and Puńsk (just next to the border). In my town it is said that the best Mrowisko comes from there.
If you are in my area – you can try those in many places. And I highly recommend them. Even though they might seem very simple, they are exceptionally delicious and I can clearly call them the tastes of my young years!
Later this week I will post some further updates, but for now – I wish you an amazing second part of the week!