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Poland’s linguistic affiliation

Posted on 09. Oct, 2014 by in Countries, Culture, History, Polish Language

Polish belongs to the west Slavic group of languages of the Indo-European language family, which in turn is part of the Nostratic macrofamily. Poles use the Latin alphabet. Literary Polish developed during the sixteenth century and is based on the speech of educated city people, upper class usage, and the Great Polish and Little Polish Dialects. Starting in the nineteenth century, technological and cultural changes introduced a new vocabulary. During the 1920s and 1930s, there was an attempt to coin and introduce a Polish-derived vocabulary for the newly diffused technology. Otherwise, the new vocabulary is taken from German, Latin, Russian, and English. The spelling of diffused words is changed to reflect the Polish alphabet.

Geographical areas have distinct speech patterns. Most Poles can identify people’s places of origin by their speech. The major dialects are: Great Polish in the northwest centered on Poznań; Kuyavian, east of “Great Poland”; and Little Polish, around Cracow. Kashubian, with about 200,000 speakers along the Baltic coast, has its own orthography and literature. The Slovincian dialect of Kashubian could be considered a separate language.

Image by rogiro on Flickr.com

Image by rogiro on Flickr.com

Polish first appeared in writing in 1136 in the “Gniezno papal bull” (Bulla gnieźnieńska), which included 410 Polish names. The first written Polish sentence was “day ut ia pobrusa a ti poziwai” (I’ll grind [the corn] in the quern and you’ll rest), which appeared in Ksiega henrykowska in 1270. In Modern Polish spelling that sentence is “daj ać ja pobruszę, a ty poczywaj”.

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

Which soft drinks Poles like the most?

Posted on 08. Oct, 2014 by in Culture, traditions

We all know that anytime people think about Poles and their drinking habits – vodka screams at us! Yes, part of it is true. Just like each country has specific food and drinks that is popular there. Poles are used to drinking shots of vodka…but I have to say that usually opinion about it is exaggeration.

Now how about soft drinks? Which ones are popular in Poland? I can definitely tell you that when I was growing up…I barely tasted soda. Kompot (compote) has been always on the table.

Image by funtik.cat on Flickr.com

Image by funtik.cat on Flickr.com

Compotes are drinks prepared of fruits – usually fresh, sometimes dried. Sugar is added and sometimes cloves are used as a spice. In Poland the most popular fruits are: apples, morello cherries, currants, cherries, strawberries, pears and a rhubarb. Compote is prepared in the summer and stored for the fall and the winter time. It’s served cold, together with the fruits. A glass of compote is typical dinner drink in many Polish homes.

The so-called ‘susz’, prepared of the blend of dried fruits is a special kind of compote. Susz, in contrast with raw fruit compotes, has a brown color, muddy look and a very peculiar taste. Susz is one of compulsory ingredients of the Christmas Eve supper table. I still remember hiding coke or sprite under the Christmas table….because according to the tradition…we were not supposed to drink soda before midnight.

What else was popular when I was a child? Of course oranżadaOrangeade is – as you probably know – a sweet, alcohol-free, carbonated drink with an orange taste (traditionally). This drink, which travelled to Poland straight from France, spread in the aristocratic Polish cuisine in the 18th century. Basic ingredients of oranzada are sugar and orange juice or syrup.

Oranżada had its period of magnificence during the Cold War. In communist Poland, poorly and insufficiently equipped with goods of any kind, the orangeade constituted one of the basic, bottled drinks available in groceries. There was a technology of producing oranżada of powdered orange juice(!). This products was sold as powder, which dissolved in a glass of water gives you, a faint reminder of a glass of oranzada-type beverage. Another type of oranżada was sold in plastic bags which thirsty one should pierce with a straw. Today the popularity of this drink is definitely smaller, compared with Coca-Cola and other ‘international’ drinks.

Other than that…juices are popular as well as soda, although soda definitely not as popular as in USA…

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

Polish cuisine in the history

Posted on 03. Oct, 2014 by in cooking, Culture, History

The Polish cuisine (kuchnia polska) in the Middle Ages was based on dishes made of agricultural produce (millet, rye, wheat – proso, żyto, pszenica), meats of wild and farm animals and fruits, herbs and local spices. It was known above all from abundant salt using and permanent presence of groats (kasze). A high calorific value of dishes and drinking the beer as a basic drink (unlike the wine spread in south and west Europe) was typical of Middle Ages Polish cuisine. A beer and a mead (piwo i miód pitny) were most popular drink for a lot of time, but with time an expensive wine, imported mainly from Silesia and Hungary appeared.

Image by orangejon on Flickr.com

Image by orangejon on Flickr.com

Medieval chronicles describe Polish cuisine as very pungent (cierpka, pikantna, ostra), using large amounts of the meat and groats. Indeed, medieval Polish cuisine applied prodigious seasonings amounts (when compared with other countries of Europe), mainly pepper, nutmeg and juniper (pieprzu, gałki muszkatołowej i jałowca). Thanks to close trade relations between Poland and countries of the Orient, prices of spices were lower in Poland than in many other countries. Up to today’s times mentions of aromatic, dense and very spicy Polish sauces behaved (‘jucha szara’ and ‘jucha czerwona‘, nowadays unknown). Apart from that balm, the turnip and pea (rzepa i groch) were common. What’s interesting in the Middle Ages a flatware wasn’t used at all.

Compendium Ferculorum albo zebranie potraw’ by Stanislav Czerniecki is the oldest Polish cookbook. The book dates from 1682. Only a century later in 1786 a next great work of this type was published – oeuvre of Wojciech Wieladko ‘Excellent Cook’ (‘Kucharz doskonaly’ in original), a book unusually popular and repeatedly resumed. What’s interesting reprints of this book are also available in Poland nowadays – but rather as the certain curiosity or position for fiends.

A little bit later in the end of 18th century Jan Szyttler, disciple of the famous royal chef Paul Tremon, became an author of first, systematic cookbooks on Polish land.

In history choice of the meat in the polish cuisine depended on the forestation. In contrast with other countries like France or Hungary, in medieval Poland forests were not being cut down to convert the land into pastures. Neither Poles grazed cattle on a great scale. Farm animals has been rather kept in corrals as a source of dairy products above all valued.

Pork (wieprzowina) was peculiary popular meat in Poland. Pigs were grazed in forests and people willingly took advantage of the wild sylvan game, as a source of meat too. Therefore the meats typical of the Old Polish cuisine are dishes of the pork, the poultry and the various game – from rabbit or birds to roe deer or wild boars.

Little requiring poultry was bred in corrals for nutritious and nourishing eggs, as well as for the readily available meat in the case of any fowl population surplus. Poles come economically up to the cattle earmarked for slaughter. Whole animal was used, including giblets and blood, from which the black pudding (kaszanka) and bloody soup (czernina) were made, what as the culinary curiosum was known in the whole Europe. To this day the black pudding remains popular, however czernina is not being eaten already.

The contemporary Polish cuisine replaced groats being the staple in history with potatoes, while game dishes are replaced today with the pork and the farm poultry. Tomatoes won the great popularity also. Also eating easily available meat increased, while eating giblets reduced. Producing cheap sugar from beet readily drove and replaced honey in baking and desserts.

Similarly as in other national kitchens, certain regional specializations appear also in Polish cuisine. Saltwater fishes are popular particularly on the Polish coast of Baltic Sea today, sheep’s dairy products in the mountains, whereas freshwater fishes in the Land of Great Mazurian Lakes. In times of wars and loss of the independence differences deepened, and regional cuisines adopted some meals from the cuisines of three occupying nations.

Polish regions have unique menus, but to some extent only. List of regional foods is not so long, and most traditional dishes are considered national. For example chicken broth is associated with Silesia as typical food, and for the main course meat with dumpling. On the other hand tripe and pork chop with cabbage and potatoes could be served in Mazovia. In Greater Poland German-Polish dishes are liked (ajntop; meat jelly known as the aspic or ‘cold legs'; myrdyrda), whether in Lublin dumplings with the buckwheat groats and the curd cheese are number one. Apart from some of such regional food, main dishes of modern and Old Polish cuisine are universally known and consumed throughout the country.

The dinner in Poland is usually had about 2 p.m. It consists of three dishes. Soup constitutes the first dish. In keeping with tradition on Sunday a chicken stock (broth – rosół) is typical given. Main course is a meat dish usually (or fish at Fridays), e.g. pork cutlet (‘kotlet schabowy’) which is served with boiled potatoes (in chunks or crushed on puree) and with vegetable ‘surówka’ (shredded root vegetables with lemon and the mayonnaise or cream). To be a little bit more traditional replace potatoes with groats. During the Polish dinner a dessert consists of a cake as a third dish. It might be for example the poppy-seed cake, the cheesecake or the yeast cake with fruits. In the majority of families compote or juice fruit is served during main course.

Smacznego!!!

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)