23 lut 2011

Drinking in Poland


According to the stereotype Poles drink a lot, especially vodka. Is it a fact, a reality, a habit? A recent WHO publication has made me thinking.

Firstly – the data. It’s not very up-to-date (2007) but we don’t have any better. In the stats every Pole 15+ drinks 13 litres of pure alcohol a year*. The Polish data shows only recorded amounts – 9,5 l. Since 2001 to 2007 it’s been 2 litres more.

Let’s compare it to the other countries. “The Economist” did it for us, check this image.

I’m not going to defend or accuse. I drink almost nothing so I can’t share my personal experience with you;) It’s not because I’m against, I just don’t like the bitter taste. Most of my friends end with one or two bottles of wine. Fortunately the society is getting richer so drinking wine becomes more popular. For the last 10 years I’ve observed the growing number of wine shops in Warsaw which is positive.

I wanted to know what foreigners think about the Polish drinking style. From this blog I took this two quotations with which I fully agree:

“The vast majority of Poles drink rarely and with considerable restraint but there is a small elite corps of front line spetsnaz drinkers who take the bulk of the strain for the entire nation”. True!

It starts early as probably everywhere. The first drinking experiences have kids around 13 years old. What is more bothering 68% of 15-year-old boys and 54% of girls drank alcohol last month.

“Polish teenagers were immensely proud of what they saw as their nation’s reputation for hard drinking. In the way of teenagers everywhere the ability to acquire and consume alcohol was seen as a mark of extreme coolness”. Unfortunately many young people enjoys boasting about the amount of alcohol they drank or who did what after heavy drinking.

All in all I don’t think Poles drink differently than other nations. The only alarming situation is the number of drunk drivers who cause a lot of accidents and kill many people. So many campaigns, condemnations and explanations and it’s still a big problem.

If you would like to read more, check PARPA website.

I would like to read about your experience with alcohol in Poland. What does it look like here and in your countries?


* It may sound a lot but 1 bottle of beer for 300 days gives 7,5 l of pure alcohol.

9 lut 2011

Preparing for Tłusty Czwartek and what is serek homo



This year Easter is very late (24.04) and proportionally Tłusty Czwartek is on 3.03. So there’s more time to train eating pączki and faworki;) I’ve eaten a lot of pączki recently I must say that price doesn’t reflect the quality and taste. I’ve tried a wide range from the cheap A-petit in the underground passage in Metro Centrum to Delikatesy owned by Bracia Gessler or exclusive Embassy – Magda Gessler’s brand. Pączki for 1,2 zł are not only edible, but also tasty. Those for 5 zł disappointed me, nothing to remember. 2-3 zł is a normal price in Warsaw in local cukiernia (I don’t recommend supermarkets’ production).


Where you can try perfect pączki?


ul. Jarosława Dąbrowskiego 71 – one of the best pączki in Warsaw, with rose MNIAM!

ul. Hoża, close to plac Trzech Krzyży – great pączki with different fillings in the small old cukiernia

ul. Górczewska 15 – these traditional producers sell only pączki! Don’t wait for Tłusty Czwartek, because you will spend 2 hours in a queue

Also in the middle of ul. Chmielna you can smell fresh pączki from 50 metres, they are perfect when warm but after nothing superb.


With faworki it’s even more difficult. Faworki have to be crunchy and not white! But last year in Mokotów I found something which at least was close to my high expectations (because of my grandma's wonderful ones):

al. Niepodległości 119 A

Even though I’m an experienced cook and I never give up in the kitchen pączki and faworki intimidate me. Polish doughnuts are yeast-raised and I haven’t done a lot with this kind of dough. Also deep frying isn’t very pleasurable. BUT pączki are worthy any kind of effort. I didn’t want to throw myself in at the deep end so I decided to try the easier and very quick version firstly. They are called angielskie pączki but I have no idea why. Instead of yeast I used serek homogenizowany* (photo below. I like this producer).


* homogenized cheese. A very popular dairy product in Poland, something between yoghurt and cream. Our neighbours probably also like it. I have no idea how does it look like in the other parts of the world, maybe you could tell me?


The result? More like RACUCHY (I promise to do them soon) than pączki but fine.

Ingredients:

1 ½ glass of wheat flour
1 serek homogenizowany vanilla flavour (can be any different)
3 eggs
half teaspoon of baking powder
2 small spoons of spirit vinegar (I used spirit, because I hate vinegar)
2 spoons of powdered sugar
a lot of fat (oil, lard)
powdered sugar

Mix all the ingredients with mixer. Heat fat slowly. When it’s hot put the small amounts of dough into it (with a spoon or a teaspoon). Deep fry until they are golden brown on both sides. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or cover with icing. You can also add marmalade, chocolate etc.

Fast and tasty! Recommendable especially in the winter.

3 lut 2011

"From Poland with Love"

A year ago I wrote about an interesting documentary on the origins of wódka. Fortunately the same crew continued to film Poland. They created the travel series "From Poland with Love" about modern Poland and young artists. It's sponsored by a producer of wódka Wyborowa so you'll see a lot of wódka there;) Films are funny, lively and give a lot of information. You must watch and tell me what impression do you have. Check VBS channel.