It actually may be possible to die from Polish food in four short days. Especially if your menu looks like this:
* Pierogies for breakfast
* Deep fried potato pancakes for lunch
* Sausage for dinner
Repeat the next day, except add in:
* Thick, hot chocolate between meals
* Tunnel-shaped crusty, doughy pastry after dinner
When I say deep fried potato pancakes, I mean DEEP FRIED potato pancakes. The kind of deep fried I don’t think I’ve ever experienced in my life. We’re talking about a shallow 6-inch stainless steel counter filled with hot oil. They pour the potato pancake batter into it, while it crackles and fries. They cook it 5 minutes on one side, then 5 minutes on the other. When they take the crunchy goodness out of the oil, they shake it and shake it because the oil is d-r-i-p-p-i-n-g off it. Then they slather garlic cream sauce all over it. It’s at that moment you understand you will die in Krakow. You begin writing your will and testament that night.
You will wake up on day 3 sure that your heart has stopped. But then you will go out and buy a pastry in the morning.
The pastries are deceiving. They look soooo good, but actually, they don’t taste that good. This is only accentuated by the fact that we spent 10 days in Paris, which is the pastry capital of the world, so we for sure know how delicious a pastry can be. Nevertheless, we keep trying different kinds and are never quite satisfied with the taste of the pastry versus how good it looks in the pastry case. The good thing is, since I am traveling with 3 other people, I can try a variety of pastries without having to eat all of them myself. Anything I don’t want just goes to Zack, and he finishes it off.
This is true except for the one “pastry” I bought at the open market. It looked so different than a usual pastry, a smallish type treat that is shaped like an eye and could fit in the palm of your hand. With spiky pastry points all over the top of it. Cooking on an open grill suspended in the air. Looked delicious, so I bought a handful. Watching Gracie’s face after she took her first big bite of the “pastry,” I realized, hmmmm, that is not a pastry, and whatever it is, it does NOT taste good. It definitely wasn’t dough. It tasted like fishy, super smokey, cheese. The taste was so horrible we threw the whole bag out, even though the Krakovians all around us were munching down on those things.
But amazing hot chocolate from Lviv Chocolate Shop saved the day. On the main floor is the chocolate store, and upstairs is a tea room, or should I say a chocolate room. On the main floor you can find all sorts of chocolate creations – high heel shoes, VW bugs, dragons (the town mascot), and every sort of delectable truffle you can dream up. But upstairs is where the action is. Gracie and I sampled the hot chocolate, lingering over our cuppa and whiling away the afternoon. We ordered hot chocolate with cinnamon, clove and amaretto. It arrived at our table in a cute white cup emblazoned with the chocolate store logo, and sporting a full cinnamon stick to stir it.
You needed something to stir it – it was thick, in all the right kind of ways. When we were ordering, we noticed on the menu that there was an item called “melted chocolate.” When I asked the waitress “what is “melted chocolate?” she answered, “it is melted chocolate.” “Like, only melted chocolate? Does anything come with it, like milk?” “No, only melted chocolate.” So our hot chocolate was just shy of being official “melted chocolate” but it certainly tasted like it.
Needless to say, by day four we were screaming for lettuce, just a little lettuce, please! Which is a good thing, because we were flying back to Budapest that night and wouldn’t be faced with the decision of what to eat for dinner: more pierogies, more sausage, or to try our hand at a big slice of thick, rustic bread slathered with lard. Yep, lard.