Tag Archives: Pierogi

The Guardian does Poland

For the past four weeks, Britian’s The Guardian newspaper has run a series it has called New Europe. It has spent one week each analysing Germany, France, Spain and finally in the past week, Poland. The introduction to the series says “Who are our neighbours? Too often Europe is discussed and reported through its common institutions or purely in terms of its relations with Britain. Starting today, the Guardian’s Europe season looks in depth at four European countries – with a week exploring every aspect of their cultures, economies and day-to-day lives.”

As a further part of the lead-in, a survey was also completed in each of the four countries and in the United Kingdom and an overview of the results was presented. And finally, an interactive guide is shown giving information on all EU countries and how they compare in the areas of population, life expectancy, education levels, personal technology ownerships levels, and financial indicators such as cost of living and savings levels.

During the past week of Monday April 4th to Saturday April 9th, there have been many articles related to Poland specifically and they can all be found in the Poland sub-section of the New Europe featured area 0n the Guardian website. The majority of the articles also appeared in the print versions of the newspaper during the week. Below is a quick summary of some of the main articles and highlights from the week covering Poland.

Current Affairs, Politics and History

This section covers some of the articles covering topics such as:

A Jewish renaissance – which highlights efforts by Krakows Jewish Centre in particular in raising awareness.

The giant Swiebodzin Jesus – which of course raises a debate on religion and the Church’s influence in Poland.

Poland gets to grips with being normal – which of course raises a debate on religion and the Church’s influence in Poland.

Feminism in Poland – where the author gives some interesting examples of experiences with industry colleagues being condescending bordering on sexist.

Culture, Sport, the Arts & Entertainment

This section looks at how Poland is developing in terms of culture and other such areas.

Guardian Readers Tips – these include suggestions for cultural options and other highlights, including parts of Poland to visit outside of the urban areas.

How football hooliganism still haunts Poland – While this article does present the spectre of hooligans arranging ‘ustawki’ fights, there are also some other articles highlighting positives that Euro 2012 will bring such as stadium building, infrastructure redevelopment and a podcast from Jonathan Wilson with interviews with Grzegorz Lato and Lech Wałęsa where the hope is that hosting Euro 2012 will help to increase Polands self-confidence as a country.

Seamus Heaney on Czesław Miłosz – with the poem ‘The World’ written in 1943 being a personal favourite of his

Travel & Tourism

This section highlights some of the features presenting Poland cities and other locations and what is worth seeing, including

Top ten Warsaw hotels to consider – these range from Le Meridien Bristol and the Rialto, to a hotel not even yet open – the Old Embassy – which is based in the former Soviet Embassy and not scheduled to open until September.

The locals guide to Kraków and Warsaw – with tips on places that you won’t necessarily find in the regular guide books

Kraków vs. Warsaw – a few more shots are fired in the never-ending debate of which of Polands two main cities can claim to be the best. With a notable appearance from our own Jamie Stokes (also representing the Krakow Post), as he battles with Dana Dramowicz of the Warsaw Life publication. They verbally spar to win the hearts and minds of those not yet decided on the subject.

Top trips in Poland – including Lancut castle, walking in the Karkonosze mountains and taking a steam train in Wolsztyn.

Food and Drink

This culinary section aims to present a taste of Poland, notably:

Guardian Readers Tips – these include suggestions for cafés, restaurants and bars in the main cities in Poland

How to cook perfect borscht (barszcz) – which also includes some free geo-political comments as a discussion builds over who has the best claim to ‘own’ the recipe

A pierogi recipe – or Polish ravioli as it is described on the webpage.

A recipe for roast duck with apples – with a suggestion to try with a dry red wine.

A gołąbki recipe – Suggested as being similar to the recipe of the babcia of the author

Summary

To summarise, the series overall is aimed at increasing knowledge of other European powers for British readers. The series (and articles on Poland) work fairly well in that regard as many pieces of information are presented that would not be known without regular exposure to Poland or Polish culture. However a disappointing recurrence was how the majority of articles were not written by Poles. This lead to some inaccuracies in information presented (often quickly pointed out) and also lead to a ‘parachute’ feeling – where it felt like the author was dropped into Poland for a few days – the article on the Polish family even mentioned how the author just landed with them for a few days, as opposed to presenting the views directly from the family.

Another feature seemed to be some articles being presented (perhaps deliberately) in a way to induce as many comments as possible on the web version of the article. The pieces on ‘Debunking Myths’ in particular seemed to rouse those commenters who shout loudest to say “Poles go home”, “Poles are lazy” and “Dey tuk ar jabs”. Ironically it seemed that bringing out these elements went against the Guardian’s message of getting to know the other countries and cultures.

Overall, it was a good series, but a suggestion for improvement would have been to have less articles (perhaps 20 or 25 instead of the 67 Poland-related ones) which could go into more detail and ensure accuracy of information and present more real views. Some articles felt too short to provide anything more than a discussion starting device which tended to decend into extremer viewpoints being aired.

All images are from the Guardian interactive guide to the EU countries with the original source data coming from the Economist.

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The Polish pie mystery

I’ve seen a lot of nice things to eat in Poland, but none of them were pies. The more I think about this the odder it seems. You may wonder why would I spend any time at all thinking about this, but then you don’t know me. Let me get one thing straight from the very beginning: this is not a rant, complaint, criticism, or belittlement – I’m genuinely mystified as to the absence of Polish pies. The pie is one of the simplest, most ancient, and most convenient forms of food preparation. I don’t understand how it never caught on here. Or did it and I’m just not seeing them?

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A pork pie. Pastry on the outside, mechanically reclaimed pig meat and mysterious jelly on the inside. Mmm…

The essence of the pie concept is the containment of sloppy, hard to handle food in a firm, crusty, edible package called pastry. Pastry is just flour, water, and a little fat rolled flat and baked. Even the fat is optional. Pies can contain just about anything. The idiomatic mom’s apple pie, the standard by which Americanness is measured, is a classic sweet version; the steak and kidney pie, a British pub staple, is a classic savoury version.

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Apple pie. As American as being the butt of cheap bombing jokes

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A steak and kidney pie in its natural habitat.

If you’re mentally putting together the elements of a flour and water casing around a sweet or savoury filling and coming up with the answer “pierogi,” don’t worry I’m way ahead of you. Clearly there are similarities, but there are also crucial differences. Crucial difference number one is that pierogies are boiled, not baked, and crucial difference number two is that pierogies are individual bite-sized items served in a group while a pie is a single big item from which slices are taken. Both of these have a bearing on the convenience and longevity of pierogi as compared to pies – pierogi are wet and sloppy and don’t keep.

As if this post wasn’t exciting enough already, I have more. As part of my customarily extensive research on such things I happened across a Ukrainian dish called “pyrih” that looks suspiciously like a pie. Even more interestingly, as if that were possible, the Russian word for this Ukrainian dish is apparently “pirog,” and the Polish word is “pieróg.” Seems there is more to this than meets the eye. Polandian readers will undoubtedly be able to enlighten me further.

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A pyrih, apparently. Looks like a pie and lives just across the border in Ukraine.

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Polandian on Sunday #2

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Welcome to Polandian on Sunday with a brief summary of what happened this week in Poland.

1. The Polish-Polish pierogi war.

Pierogi, dumplings with many varieties of filling, are a Polish specialty. They have also become the subject of a major row.

As businesses serving pizza are called pizzerias, those serving pierogi are called pierogarnias. At least they were – until this week.

Pierogi places around Poland have received letters from the lawyers of the “Polskie Pierogarnie” company, demanding the word “pierogarnnia” be removed from their street signs, menus, business cards and ads. Apparently the company has registered the name “pierogarnia” at the patent office.

Many pierogi establishments argue “pierogarnia” is a generic name. Lawyers are already jumping with joy at the prospect of a long and difficult trial. So are Polish philologists, who as court language experts will finally be able to find a job connected with their studies.


2. A new biography of Lech Wałęsa’s draws an unflattering image

Previously there were the accusations of Wałęsa’s co-operation with communist secret services. This week is all about the new book claiming that Wałęsa, inter alia:
– peed into a font when he was 9;
– attacked peasant parties with an axe;
– had an illegitimate child, which he never officially acknowledged;
– and repeating the old claim that he was an agent of communist secret services.

The book, which is actually a master’s thesis, by 24-year-old Paweł Zyzak, caused a massive outcry this week. Controversial claims remain unverified, and in many cased unverifiable. Stories from Wałęsa’s youth are based on anonymous accounts from villages where Wałęsa used to live. Journalists soon followed the paths taken by Mr Zyzak – and heard the same things from the local peasant folk.

Established historians have criticised the work as not being compliant with proper methodology.

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Wałęsa is outraged. His first reaction was to say that he did not fight for a Poland such as this, and that he considered returning the Nobel Prize and other awards, and leaving the country. Mr Zyzak has been condemned by Poland’s top-people. The government is outraged too, and wants to control how the Jagiellonian University, founded 1364, protects scientific standards while granting degrees in its History Department—a proposal that some see as a breach of the universities’ independence and of freedom of speech.

Mr Zyzak is also the author of other original thoughts. As a Kaczynski brothers’ Law and Justice party politician he demanded that Gazeta Wyborcza, the most popular Polish broadsheet, be removed from schools because it “promotes hatred of the Polish state, and it spits on national and local authorities”. He also said that gay people are “animals and descendants of the devil”. In one article he wrote: “Fags, using individual physical and verbal attacks against them, cunningly gather people’s compassion”.

Since he might be stripped of his masters – he should be hoping for some compassion himself these days.

3. Barack Obama – a descendant of Polish monarchs?

In the desserts of the Sahara, in the jungles of Manhattan, on the beaches of the Seychelles: Polish people are everywhere in the world. As it turns out, the current occupant of the White House might be Polish too. At least a bit.

Previous studies proved Barack Obama’s connection to the English house of Plantagenet and Edward I.  A Czech expert explores the connection between the Plantagenets, the Polish house of Piast and the Bohemian house of Przemyślid (cz. Přemyslid).

Descent Table of Barack Obama, King Edward I of England and Mieszko I, Duke of Poland.

Mieszko I, Duke of Poland  ? – 992
Bolesław Chrobry (Boleslas the Brave), King of Poland 967 – 1025
Mieszko II, King of Poland 990 – 1034
Kazimierz Odnowiciel (Casimir the Restorer), Duke of Poland 1016 – 1058
Władysław Herman (Ladislas Herman), Duke of Poland 1043 – 1102
Bolesław Krzywousty (Boleslas III Wrymouth Piast), Duke of Poland 1085-1138
Władysław II, (Ladislas II Piast), Duke of Krakow and Silesia 1105-1159
Rychilda (Richilde Piast), 1135-1198
Sancha of Castille 1154-1208
Alphonse II, Count of Provence ca 1180-1209
Raimond-Bérenger V, Count of Provence & Forcalquier ca 1205-1245
Eléonore of Provence 1223-1291
Edward I Longshanks Plantagenêt, King of England 1239-1307
Elizabeth Plantagenêt 1282-1316
William de Bohun, Earl of Northampton ca 1311-1360
Elisabeth de Bohun ca 1350-1385
Elizabeth Fitzalan 1366-1425
Joan Goushill
Catherine Stanley
Dulcia Savage
Maud Bold
Jennet Gerard
William Eltonhead
Richard Eltonhead
Martha Eltonhead
Eltonhead Conway
Martha Thacker
Edwin Hickman
James Hickman 1723-1816
Susannah Hickman
Annie Browning
George Washington Overall 1820-1871
Susan C Overall 1849
Gabriella Clark 1877
Ruth Lucille Armour 1900-1926
Stanley Armour Dunham 1918-1992
Ann Dunham 1942-1995
Barack Obama 1961-

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Mieszko I Piast - probably Barack Obama's forefather.

4. The last etude at Okęcie

An étude is an instrumental musical composition, most commonly of considerable difficulty, usually designed to provide practice material for perfecting a particular technical skill. It was also the name of a terminal at Warsaw’s Okęcie Chopin Airport. First opened in 1976 it served as the arrivals hall until 1992, when Terminal 1 was extended and refurbished. The number of passengers continued to grow, and very soon exceeded its capacity. In 2004 Etiuda was reopened to accommodate the rapidly growing low cost airlines. It was thought of only as a temporary solution since Terminal 2 was in the last phases of construction. There were also advanced plans to open a new airport further away from Warsaw.

Things didn’t go according to plan: Terminal 2’s launch was repeatedly postponed and the plans for a new airport plans were abandoned. The tiny space of Etiuda was getting more and more crowded – from 474,000 passengers in 2004 – to 948,000 in 2008. Overcrowding, together with greatly insufficient number of places to sit, lack of bars, restaurants or shops, tiny toilets, no air conditioning and delayed flights – meant that each visit to Etiuda was an horrific experience, that stayed with each visitor for a long time. We’ve mentioned this at Polandian before as well.

This week Etiuda was finally closed (ignoring protests from Ryanair, Easyjet and WizzAir) – which was celebrated with a grande fete outside the terminal in the Polish 70s style. Telebims displayed scenes from cult Polish comedy films in which the terminal was featured. The public got hot tea with vodka from thermos flasks and egg sandwiches wrapped in breakfast paper. Old style ‘crew’ with odd haircuts and vile make-up presented a happening: a very rude and disrespectful ‘check-in’ service. A reminder of how it was during the communist days – now a laughing matter. A huge “Closed” sign was lit up to finish off the night. Etude is over.

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GOING UP

Nudists – who might be getting a brand new beach on Warsaw’s Vistula bank. The Warsaw’s City Council motion aims to recreate the once popular nudist spot near Wał Miedzeszyński. The project needs the support of the mayoress of Warsaw Hanna Gronkiewicz-Walz, whom you can contact with petitions at ajaworska@warszawa.um.gov.pl.

The Polish economy – according to The Economist Poland will be the only country in Europe, excluding Slovakia and Slovenia, with a GDP growth in 2009 (0.7% to be precise). Other countries will experience a negative GDP growth rate due to the current crisis. Poland’s prognosis for 2010 is a more optimistic 2.2% GDP growth rate.

Firefox web browser – which, for the first time had a larger market share (45.3%) in Poland, than Internet Explorer (45.0%)

GOING DOWN

Radek Sikorski – the current Minister for Foreign Affairs lost his bid to become NATO Secretary General. Reportedly the Americans wanted the Danish guy (Anders Fogh-Rasmussen). Mr Sikorski should have thought twice, before he supported McCain against Obama the Piast.

The Centre of Contemporary Art in Toruń – which has hidden from view a part of its own exhibition on Saturday. The exposition entitled “Lucim lives on” presents peasant inspirations in modern art. One of the elements of the exhibition was a film, which the CoCA director, politically appointed figure, perceives as ‘obscene’ or ‘pornographic’. Conservatism and censorship is hardly a surprise when you think that instead of a speech from the curator presenting the CoCA’s programme during its launch ceremony, there was a priest offering prayer for the CoCA to “make benefit the glorious people of Toruń”.

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