Krakow shares many of the same traditions as Warsaw when it comes to cuisine, both equally delicious. I haven’t repeated any of the items from the What To Eat in Warsaw post, so if you’re going to Poland you should take a look at both lists and pick your favorites.
Golonka: Considered by many to be Poland’s national dish, you must try the pork knuckle.
Knedle: These potato dough dumplings are stuffed with apples, plums, or strawberries and are eaten as dinner, not dessert.
Botwinka: Young red beet leaves and roots are made into this bright-pink soup that is served with sour cream and occasionally chive. It is only available in the spring when the beetroots are young and most flavorful.
Nalesniki: You can find these pancakes in varying thicknesses and plain or stuffed, and they all share the same name. The particular nalesniki I’m talking about are filled with jam, fruit or even savory items and tend toward the thin side of pancakes.
Tarta Owocowa: This is your basic fruit tart somehow made tastier when found at a Polish bakery in the early-morning hours behind a long line of people.
Kapusniak: Cabbage, sauerkraut, and a small number of other fresh vegetables (maybe) round out this beefy-tomato broth soup. It must be made a day in advance in order for the flavors to set, so it can be more difficult to find in restaurants than other day-of soups.
Zapiekanka: A baguette, sliced in half with a sprinkle of mushrooms and cheese on top, is toasted and handed to you with a squeeze-bottle of ketchup. This is the Polish interpretation of pizza (and may also contain meats and other accouterments if desired).
Kogel Mogel: Polish eggnog needs no further introduction – but doesn’t it have a much better name?
Piernik: These honey or gingerbread cakes may also contain raisins, almonds, figs, or other traditional fruit and nut varieties, but even plain they’re moist and smell like the holidays. Best found in winter or in someone’s grandmother’s kitchen.
Pierekaczewnik: Cottage cheese and seasoned meats, veggies, or a combination are rolled into a buttered pastry and eaten by the slice.
Obwarzanek Krakowski: These Jewish bagels are protected by the EU for a reason – and it isn’t just because they’re delicious. The chewy bread rings can be sprinkled with salt, poppy seeds or sesame seeds as well as a few other ingredients and are sold on just about every street corner in bright blue carts. Finding a fresh one is essential to their taste because they only have a shelf-life of about three hours after they leave the oven. I wrote more about these not-quite-bagels in my previous posts on Krakow.
That concludes the Travel Tips: What To Eat blitz (phew; so many mouth-watering memories), which means travel posts will return to normal with a new What To Eat post for each destination.
– M. Ray Hall