Culinary tourism, bitter-sweet leisure

The heyday of fast food is coming to an end. The era of traditional food and culinary heritage is upon us, while more and more Poles appreciate healthy eco-foods and kitchen delicacies become one of the methods of promoting Polish regions

Culinary tourism, bitter-sweet leisureCeremonial bread

fot. LoggaWiggler/Pixabay

How do you eat it?
Culinary tourism is about discovering cultures trough their food. It is not only about particular dishes, types of flavours and ingredients, but also the way the food is presented, the way it is consumed and the way the locals act at the table. Poles pay increasingly more attention to these aspects.

Culinary tourism, as a way of travelling has become very fashionable in Europe and around the world. It recently has been taken up by Poles, who go to Polish (and foreign) cities to discover their heritage and take part in various festivals. What is important in regional cuisine? First and foremost, its eco-friendliness, health value and the great flavours. For that reason, more and more travel agents and trip organisers include culinary fairs, routes and festivals into their offers.

Culinary tourism is for people who are not afraid of discovering new, unfamiliar flavours, and those who enjoy being challenged and have a curiosity of the world. When travelling around unknown regions of Poland and the world, you should try all the dishes characteristic for a given region. Bearing that in mind, people with culinary prejudices should stick to traditional tourism. Luckily, there are few of those among Poles – after all our countrymen like a good meal. 

Where to look for new flavours in Poland?

Poland is a country with a rich culinary offer. Each of the ten culinary regions has their own traditional meals, often chosen from old recipes handed down from generation to generation, sometimes available in “updated” versions. The most popular Polish foods are grits, bigos, pork chop, gherkins, broth chicken soup, żurek soup, dumplings and gołąbki. Foreigners enthuse over our pierogi, fruit kompot and mead, although it is now rarely served in Poland. Traditional Polish seasoning is poppy, linseed, salt, dill, black seed and parsley.

Here are the four biggest culinary riches of Poland, places which you have to see, dishes you have to try and celebrations you have to attend.

  • Pomeranian and Kashubian cuisine is characterised mainly by hospitality. Every hungry traveller will be fed until their belly is ready to burst with traditional fare of the best quality. Most often the dishes are prepared from fresh fish, bought daily by restaurant owners directly from fishermen. You will often encounter mashed potatoes with cracking, best to be washed down with buttermilk, not to mention bread with lard, cracking and gherkins, and in Kociewie – the wild mushroom casserole.  Those with a sweet tooth should try plum soup with dumplings. Taking part in Pomeranian Easter Table organised in Stare Pole is highly recommended. You can try dishes prepared by the ladies from the farmers’ wives’ association. You can also take part in Strawberry Picking in Złota Góra, near Kartuzy. It is the biggest strawberry-related event in Kashubia and it takes place at the end of June or beginning of July. While in Kluki you can participate in baking of traditional Slavic bread on every weekend of June and August.
  • The Górale cuisine is best savoured at old mountain inns, as the traditional dishes from Polhale are slowly slipping into obscurity, and their recipes are being modified. Sheep’s milk cheeses are particularly recommendable (oscypek, bundza and bryndza), but so are moskole, which are pancakes baked on hot tops of a traditional ovens and the famous kwaśnic – a soup prepared with meat and sauerkraut.
  • Wielkopolska cuisine is usually associated with szare kluchy, which are potato noodles sprinkled with fried bacon often served with cooked sauerkraut. The Poznań region is also the birthplace of potato pancakes served with sugar, and czernina – a soup made of duck blood. Wielkopolska offers a real myriad of flavours. If you want to try all the traditional delicacies, you would have to spend your whole vacations here. The broad selection of meats such as salceson, nóżki w galarecie, various diary products (kosek, dried salted cheese seasoned with cumin is the most popular), dough dumplings, noodles, pancakes and soups (chicken soup and pumpkin soup) draw in tourists from all over the world. There are also numerous workshops and live culinary presentations, which are very popular among tourists, for example the Festival of Good Taste, which takes place in August in Poznań.
  • Galicia cuisine offers interesting combinations of flavours. It combines influences from the Wołów region with Hungarian, Jewish, German and Czech overtones. Grits-based dishes are the most popular, as well as offal, wild mushrooms and dried fruit followed by pretzels, obwarzanki, bagels and... Viennese cheesecake. The two most known dishes are liskiecka sausage and zalewajka ozorkowa. A Polish-Ukrainian Culture Festival called „Our Galicia” has been organised last year to promote Galician culture and cuisine. Everything was delicious! 

These are only four of the ten culinary regions of Poland. They offer, what we believe to be, the tastiest dishes. We always encourage Poles to first delve into their own cuisine, before they leave to discover those of other countries. Sometimes what’s best is also closest to home!

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