WARNING – this article is not suitable for vegetarians, vegans, vulcans and sith.
Ever wondered about the differences between Polish and English meat? Well here’s my opinion for what it’s worth.
Sausages – have to be at the very heart of the battle. I asked some colleagues just now “What’s the difference between kiełbasa and British sausages?”. The answer was unanimously, “Yours are made from toilet paper and ours are made from meat!”. They are now seeking alternative employment, but the battle continues. British (or Irish) sausages are almost universally hated over here and the main reason for that, apart from differences in taste is the fact that British sausages are known for having large amounts of sawdust or other filling materials, whereas kiełbasa are, so they say, pure meat. “What about all those fatty gristly parts of kneecaps I need to spit out!”, I hear you cry. Well, nobody over here is owning up to those parts, no no, kiełbasa is 100% glorious meat. I’m prepared to admit that a good kiełbasa is good, possibly better than the sausages I grew up with as a stand alone food item. However, would I like kiełbasa for breakfast? No! Would I enjoy a kiełbasa sandwich? No! So, we have therefore proven that, in the two main instances that the British sausage is likely to be best used it stands supreme! Conversely, would you like slices of British sausage on your kolacja plate with the cheese, ogorki, grzyby, chleb and pasztet? No! So, in some instances the kiełbasa is champion. This leaves the disputed middle ground, the no-mans-land of sausagedom – the lunchtime/afternoon sausage based meal. And here I think we have a draw. Unquestionably fantastic is “bangers & mash with onion gravy” but equally good is grilled kiełbasa with ogorki and chleb or frytki. So here’s the verdict – British sausages for breakfast or brunch. Polish kiełbasa in the evening. Choice of either for lunch/obiad.
Bacon – not even going to waste my breath. Hands down, slam dunk, no brainer, open and shut case – British (Irish, Danish) bacon wins! There is no such thing as Polish bacon anyway. Boczek may be loosely translated as bacon but what it really means is fat & bits of bone.
Blood sausage – will I think have to go down as a draw or possibly a win in extra time for Poland. A good kaszanka is hard to beat, especially when accompanied by some fried onions and good mustard (yes, mustard, not horseradish!). QCHNIA ARTYSTYCZNA do a very good kaszanka. On the other hand, a little grilled or fried British style ‘black pudding’ is a pretty decent addition to any breakfast. This whole category is probably one of those love it or hate it things anyway, so those who love will love both and those who hate, vice versa.
Cold meat cuts – this may be the most controversial as it is, I think, entirely a matter of taste with no real quality issues on either side. All I know is this – in the UK they had riots in the street to bitch and moan about the amount of water in ham. We wanted to pay for the weight of ham, not the weight of water. You could take swimming lessons in Polish ham. I like dry ham, cut from the bone. I can remember now as if I were standing at the counter, watching the lady in Waitrose at Goldsworth Park, Woking cutting that mouthwateringly delicious ham from the bone. Now that, was good ham. Over here, there is also good ham but all of it is too wet for my liking, even the stuff that looks dry. So in terms of ham I’m saying a win for Britain but with a rider that when Poles develop a taste for dry ham, Poland will take the lead. For other meats I think it’s a draw or win for Poland. I don’t buy a lot of different meats but Poland seems to have plenty to choose from. I do miss corned beef though, or cold sliced beef generally, for some reason not a Polish taste.
Golonka versus a roast – very very tough call because I love them both. In fact, I can’t decide. If I had to decide, I’d kill myself before doing so.
Fowl – can’t beat a Polish duck (especially when the RSPB are around!) universally well cooked here except when they try to get all posh on you and call it “duck breast a la posh”, then it sucks. On the other wing, a British turkey beats the hell out of a carp as a Christmas meal. Chicken’s the same everywhere as are the more exotic things like pheasant, goose and so on. Polish win for the consistency and availability of the duck.
Chops & Schnitzels – the schnitzels are a draw because they are Germanic anyway, so it comes down to the ubiquitous ‘kotlet schabowy’ versus a good old British style pork chop. The same thing except the Polish version requires you to take a British pork chop, beat the crap out of it and then cover it with breadcrumbs. I like both so on the pork chops it’s a draw too. However, when you introduce the British cavalry, in the shape of a ‘gammon steak’, it’s game over for the Poles! And you thought the ‘kotlet schabowy’ was invincible?
Lamb, generally – don’t make me laugh! The only sheep in Poland are ones that have been cloned from a 27 year old sheep once owned by King Jan Nowak III Jagodamy. So, all sheep in Poland are 27 and taste like nasty mutton. Okay for a curry but not much else. Lambs frolic in England, Wales and New Zealand, until they are killed. A good roast lamb, or lamb chops are delicious but asking a Pole to eat lamb is like asking them to eat monkey’s brains. Clear win for Britain.
Other stuff – Unless it’s my imagination, I’m encountering more ‘other stuff’ here in Poland than in Britain. This category covers things that include meat but are not pure meat. It looks like coming down to things like – zrazy (don’t know correct spelling), meat pierogi, pyzy, gołabki, kotlety mielony and so on, on the Polish side, versus – steak & kidney pie, chicken pie, shepherd’s pie/cottage pie, Cornish pasty, hamburger on the British side. Much as I am a huge fan of the Cornish pasty and the odd pie, it is not enough to overthrow the extensive troops available to Poland. So, Polish win.
I make that 3 wins for Britain, 3 wins for Poland and 3 draws. Surprising that the crack forces of each country lost their respective battles – Poland’s kotlety schabowy and Britain’s pies!
Now I’m hungry!