Culinary Ambassadors: Breakfast in Poland

Serious Eats' Culinary Ambassadors check in from time to time with reports on food fare in their homeland or countries of residence. Here's the latest! (Find out more about CA or join here!) —The Mgmt.


[Photograph: Ibadura on Flickr]

If you were to sneak peek into typical Polish home, let's say around 7 a.m., you probably wouldn't guess what country you were in. Bowls of milk and cereals, cups of white coffee or tea. Hello, food globalization! Let's be frank: In the morning, when you're always late for something, there's hardly any time to make a proper, full-option, deluxe kind of breakfast. But let's assume time has stopped for a moment and we have time to prepare a so-called typical Polish breakfast.

Well, it would be something, I dare say! There would be hard-boiled eggs cut into halves with some mayo and chopped chive on top. There would be cold cut meat (famous Polish dry sausage and ham), some curd cheese (au naturelle or with chopped chive and radish), some mature cheese, tomatoes and cucumbers, perfectly sliced and sprinkled with salt and pepper, jams and honey. And of course, bread.

Without bread you wouldn't get far. Poland has beautiful tradition of rye bread, made with a starter, which isn't too puffy and too foamy—it's full bodied, a bit salty, a bit chewy, and moist, staying fresh for few days. Well, at least perfect, traditionally made bread should be like that. And luckily, after some years of downturn, small bakeries are returning to their roots and you can find small local stores with this bread.

But, coming back to breakfast — with all those goodies standing on table one would make "kanapki." Kanapki could be translated into "sandwiches," but those typically breakfast-ish and Polish are open sandwiches, made of a buttered slice of bread, some salad, meat, cheese, and maybe some mayo, cucumber, and tomato. Maybe some more mayo? Sure do:-).

It might sound strange, but making kanapki, with perfectly spaced slices of radishes or cucumber, building one level after another is really a pleasure and great opportunity to talk and spend some time together. After eggs (eaten separately or on kanapki) you would finish with slices of bread or challach (yes, it's is a typical sweet bread here) with butter and jam or honey. Or, if the breakfast is more festive, with a slice of yesterday's cake (so without any doubts you could bake a new one after the breakfast ;-)

As a drink you would help yourself to some tea (quite common here is black tea with lemon and sugar, but green is becoming more and more popular). Coffee would be drunk with the sweets or after the whole breakfast. One digression to sandwiches or kanapki: When preparing lunch (called "second breakfast" here) for school kids or some food for a trip, you would make a closed sandwich, some cold cuts between two slices of bread.

Sounds good, right?


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To find out more about the Culinary Ambassadors initiative or sign up, see this SE Talk thread »