10 Polish Dishes That Actually Don’t Suck

When we think bad food, we typically state that England has some of the worst food on offer in the culinary arena. While I disagree with that, there are a number of cuisines with little exposure to the ordinary palate. Some that can be seen as strange, sad, or downright pathetic. To the subjective eye, I’d say that Polish food appears rather bland and uninspired. Pickled vegetables, herring in tomato sauce, meat jello? Count me out. I spent a great deal of time eating Polish food so I can dispute this epicurean untruth: Polish food sucks. Here is a list of ten great Polish dishes that will transform your perspective on Slavic gastronomy.

Top 10 Polish Foods That Don’t Suck

Let’s discover the incredible flavors and rich culinary traditions of Poland with our countdown of the top 10 must-try Polish dishes.

10. Żubrówka

The Polish can drink something fierce. And while the Czechs have their beer, the Polish certainly have their vodka. The beer quality suffers whilst the Poles are known to make some of the best quality vodkas to offer the world.

When we think of good quality vodka, we think of something that won’t make us feel repulsed when we shoot it down. (I’m looking at you, Dubra). I look for something smooth and clean tasting. Something that…well, doesn’t taste like anything.

Żubrówka is uniquely Polish. It’s not really a flavored vodka, it’s an infused one with an interesting story. They stick a blade of bison grass in the bottle that imparts an amazing tasting floral grassy note to the vodka. Try in the famous Polish Szarlotka cocktail, a Cucumber Cooler, the Count of Żubrówka, or even in a vodka sauce for Gołąbki.

9. Makowiec

We need a dessert. Polish desserts fucking suck. I’m sorry. Dry cookies, cracker dry treats with barely any sugar in them. Tastes like I am eating a dog biscuit. The other cakes tend to be extremely dry to the point I am pissed off eating them. Makowiec is different. Firstly, I don’t get exposed often to poppy seed dishes, so this is a welcome treat. It’s particularly tasty when they don’t gyp you on dried orange inside and a confectioners glaze on top. Go to a reputable Polish bakery to grab one. The ones you see that are commercially prepared are as good as…well, a dog biscuit.

8. Rosół and Zupa Pomidorowa

I put these two together because they are typically made together. With the broth leftover from the previously made Rosół soup, you make the base for the Zupa Pomidorowa. That makes these soups, and their tradition, uniquely Polish to me.

Rosół is the best soup on the planet. Chicken soup in the your typical USA diner is disgusting. I’d rather be eating crumbs from between the cushions of a dorm room couch. You stick a white plastic spoon in it and take it out and see the slick greasy film covering the spoon which paints the inside of your mouth. Awful!

Rosół is a CLEAN soup. The broth is crack, and the stuff inside is delicious. Zupa Pomidorowa expands on the broth by creating a tomato based soup that is equally delicious, putting these soups at a level that you should try.

7. Zapiekanka

I am a mushroom fanatic so a sandwich that is primarily composed of mushrooms is an amazing treat. This is the Polish street cart food, the drunk food that you are ready to throw in your mouth to carb up in the offseason. I’ve seen locals spray ketchup on this like someone who has never experienced food before. But you know what? Zapiekanka is actually not bad.

6. Zupa Grzybowa, Grzyby w Śmietanie

I am a fanatic for mushrooms, like I already stated. That’s why these two dishes are one of the things I find life worth living for. Zupa Grzybowa is a Polish take on a creamy mushroom soup. Grzyby w Śmietanie is similar but think of a thicker version that is easily piled onto an open face slice of bread.

5. Barszcz 

Seems every Slavic country has a take on Borscht (and many of the dishes in this list). I’ve had Jewish Borscht, Russian, Ukrainian, and the like. However, it’s the Polish style that I find supreme. It makes your next experience using the toilet quite jarring as you begin to tell your friends you love them and prepare to accept that you are dying.

4. Kotlet Schabowy

A tender schnitzel typically served with mashed potatoes and a mizeria side dish, what is not to love? Polish people eat a ton of pork. It must suck being a pig in Poland.

3. Bigos

Growing up, it was always the men that made Bigos. It’s a man’s dish, hunter’s stew. One of the rare Polish dishes better made by men. I’ve had it made by women and it just doesn’t cut it. It’s not the right shade or orange, doesn’t have enough meat, flavor isn’t quite there. But your drunk uncle? That shit will melt your face off.

It feels like we need a cabbage based dish when we talk about Polish food. After all, they eat it practically any chance they get. Seems like there is a thousand different cabbage side dishes. With Bigos, it’s meaty, salty, flavorful. It gets better with age, provides great flatulent potential, and is one of those dishes you just want to press a piece of bread into to soak the juices.

2. Pierogi

Haha! It’s not number 1.

My friend ripped a bong and when the smoke cleared, I asked him “what do you think you can eat a lot of? Like, what can you eat 10,000 calories of in one sitting easily?” to which he replied “Pizza, you?”. I thought about it for a bit and agreed that yes, pizza is a safe bet for me too. “But you know what else? I think I can eat 1,000 pierogi in one day, easy.”

That’s how good these damn things are. If you’ve never heard of them, I’d be shocked. It’s one of the only Polish foods besides Kielbasa that is in the American consciousness. You can go to your local grocery stores freezer aisle and you’d be hard pressed not to find these chilling in there.

A pierogi is a dumpling. Delicate dough, typically filled with potato and cheese. The cheese is a special cheese in Poland called Twaróg. There are two camps in Poland, those who boil, and thought who fry. To me, both are excellent, however, the boiled variety slightly edges out the fried version for me. Other fillings can be sauerkraut, mushroom, meat, and various fruits. While they are all good, the Ruskie variety is king. Once fried or boiled, it doesn’t stop there. Do yourself the luxury of applying golden fried onions and bacon on top. I could eat a million of these.

I wouldn’t suggest eating the frozen store brand. After eating a million different pierogi at Polish markets, in friends houses, at girlfriends homes, in Poland, at home – nothing beats home made. I wouldn’t even eat the frozen ones in a bind.

1. Zrazy

This exists in many European countries, generally referred to as a roulade. Growing up, I knew these as rolady which is close to roulade. But most people call them Zrazy.

Talk about a bread-soaking potential dish. The juices that come of this thing are one of the most tantalizing food experiences you’ll ever experience.

Beef pounded thin, a smattering of Polish mustard down the middle with a spear of a pickle, a spear of kielbasa, and an onion. Roll it up, pan fry it, and make a gravy out of the juices that come out. Then cook in the juices until the meat practically falls apart.

Conclusion

Walk into a Polish market or restaurant with confidence that it will be good. The Slavic realm of cuisine is underappreciated but well worth your time. So snap into a kielbasa, eat some pierogi, and have yourself a shot of Żubrówka. What’s your favorite Polish dish?

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