Sczęśliwego New Year everyone!
Judging by the way 2011 has kicked off, I have a feeling many of us will be in need of goodly portions of comfort food this year. The economic problems that have made a misery of at least the last two years are still here, which will mean another year of uncertainty and struggle for anyone whose livelihood is in any way dependent on economic growth and a decent amount of money sloshing around the system. Most banks now seem to be reporting very healthy figures and associated bonus plans but their tactics appear to be to keep the vast majority of the money coming in and give very little of it out, thus improving their balance sheets at the expense of stimulating activity elsewhere.
To make matters worse we still have the ‘ghost of crashes past’ hanging around in the shape of the sneaky feeling that some people are not telling the whole truth about their situation. This could almost apply to anyone but most fingers are pointing at Spain and Portugal with the consequential worry about the Eurozone as a whole. Every time I manage to catch Jeff Randall on Sky he seems to be asking the same question, “Who will be left in the Eurozone when all this is finished (or will there even be one)?”. It’s not just Spain and Portugal though. There are still unanswered questions about those already bailed out, Ireland & Greece as well as the effectiveness of measures taken in the UK, USA and just about everywhere else. Even below the country level, how many companies that have been hanging on by the skin of their teeth for the last two years will hear the fat lady singing in 2011?
Even locally here in Poland we should not be complacent. While most people blithely quote statistics of this country leading the pack for growth in 2010 as if this makes Poland somehow immune to every economic virus, there remain plenty of possibilities for us to fall from grace and even to be a star member of the ‘third wave’ of trouble makers – first wave being the likes of USA, UK, Germany, second being Hungary, Spain, Ireland, Portugal & Greece and the third……… Let’s hope that the run in to 2012 footie combined with a generally good sentiment compared to other countries encourages more companies to reconsider Poland as a place to invest the little they have available. There are some early signs of this happening.
Let’s just say I have yet to find anyone taking a seriously up-beat optimistic stance about the world / European economy in 2011 and hence the reason you should stock up on your comfort food items!
Now that I’ve cheered you all up, let’s talk about the concept of ‘comfort food’. It is a popular term but it wasn’t really one that I thought related to me very much, until last week. Last week was the first week back from holidays for most people and it was a 24 carat bitch of a week. For varied reasons, every day was non stop aggravation from start to finish, occasionally even beyond the finish. So it was that on one particular evening having gone yet another day without food I reached out for a tin of cream of chicken soup and suddenly realised that this meant more to me than just a tin of crappy soup. As I tore off chunks of bread and threw them into the warm soup I could feel the stress that had built up during the day slipping away and by the time I’d finished I was ready once more to conquer the world, or at least Młociny! Admittedly, this was only a tin of M&S chicken soup, not the real Heinz variety but beggars can’t be choosers.
The more I think about it, the more foods I might put into this category although it is hard to draw the line between genuine comfort food and just food I like to eat, which is why I’ve had such a hard time with the concept in the past. The only other one I can definitely say is ‘comforting’ is a “full English”, especially after too much alcohol.
I’ve been trying to establish whether any Polish food has yet to truly comfort me and I’m not sure. There’s no question that a lot of it has the potential to make that league but I will hold judgment for now.
I’d like therefore to hear from you, especially the Poles and especially Poles abroad about what food comforts you? I’d guess that kiełbasa, pierogi, flaki, żurek, Polish bread (whatever that is), barszcz and other beetrooty things are contenders but I might well be wrong.
UPDATE: Here’s the list so far from the comments in no particular order or language -
Placki ziemniaczane/potato pancakes
grochówka i gulasz z kaszą i ogórki
Liver pate (pasztetowa),mushroom soup (grzybowa) and poppy seeds cake (makowiec)
soups – flaki, rosół, żurek & pomidorowa
Scrambled eggs with onion and tomatoes or with bacon and mushrooms
chicken liver with onion and bread
płucka, chicken hearts gulash
Polish bread with Almette salmon spread
Pierogi z jagodami, barszcz z uszkami, ogorki kiszone, makowiec, agrest, anything with chrzan
mielony z ziemniakami i buraczki.
Polędwica wołowa “burger”
“pyzy ziemniaczane” with “skwarki”
stale bread (3-4 days old) put into hot oven for a few minutes and then sliced
naleśniki z serem