Exploring Poland – More than Pierogi and Poets**
I am in Poland right now, here to learn more about the people, cuisine and current trends in food and drink. I’m also here to briefly explore a little of the mountainous regions, visit beyond Warsaw, a city we visited few years ago, and get a better idea of the history and current atmosphere in the country.
It looks like I’ve just missed the sunshine (magnificent highs in the mid-30s in Celsius, I believe). And now? It’s raining –drizzly, grey and a little chilly, I’ll admit. I’m told this is the “real” Polish weather all year. Well, I’m all for authentic, so what’s a little rain when you have pierogi, herring, vodka and menus with at least four warm soup options. Okay, so the idea is to investigate what lies beyond the Polish pierogi, but let me tell you, a good one is a thing of beauty. And worthy of a line or three in a blog post.
I’ve spent the last few days in a whirlwind between Warsaw, Krakow and just beyond, visiting with chefs, experts and advocates of local cuisine, ogling landmarks, historical sites, museums, monuments to the great Polish poets and talking brisk walks to soak in the glorious display of architecture – much of it original in Krakow, miraculously. And in between all of this, I’ve had a number of great meals – sometimes up to four a day. As my guide and translator Agnieszka Kuś has kindly informed me, according to Polish etiquette, it would be rude to refuse. And so, we eat, and listen, laugh and learn. There is much to discover yet.
*Images mine, unless otherwise indicated.
**Though, admittedly, several Polish poets are Nobel prize laureates and winners of other dazzling awards.
Love at First Sight by Wislawa Szymborska
They’re both convinced
that a sudden passion joined them.
Such certainty is beautiful,
but uncertainty is more beautiful still.
Since they’d never met before, they’re sure
that there’d been nothing between them.
But what’s the word from the streets, staircases, hallways –
perhaps they’ve passed by each other a million times?
I want to ask them
if they don’t remember –
a moment face to face
in some revolving door?
perhaps a “sorry” muttered in a crowd?
a curt “wrong number” caught in the receiver?
but I know the answer.
No, they don’t remember.
They’d be amazed to hear
that Chance has been toying with them
now for years.
Not quite ready yet
to become their Destiny,
it pushed them close, drove them apart,
it barred their path,
stifling a laugh,
and then leaped aside.
There were signs and signals,
even if they couldn’t read them yet.
Perhaps three years ago
or just last Tuesday
a certain leaf fluttered
from one shoulder to another?
Something was dropped and then picked up.
Who knows, maybe the ball that vanished
into childhood’s thicket?
There were doorknobs and doorbells
where one touch had covered another
Suitcases checked and standing side by side.
One night, perhaps, the same dream,
grown hazy by morning.
is only a sequel, after all,
and the book of events
is always open halfway through.
The study tour is organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Warsaw in cooperation with the Polish Press Agency.