Polish Food Review By Michal
Zestaw (pronounced zestaf) is the Polish word for combo. Having driven all day to get to Sauna Cezar, without stopping once to eat, I was heartened to see the A-frame sign in the Solarium boasting a grill combo that included both chuck steak, pork belly and sausage. I told Peter to fire up the charcoal. Darek seconded the motion.
As hungry as I was I couldn’t finish the meal. I contemplated offering a bit of the pork belly to Gina, the family dog. She was nonstop barnstorming the table in what seemed like a relentless search for food. Peter had mentioned she was on a diet. One of the other guests shared her regret over having fed her. I decided to give her just one bite.
In the morning I treated myself to a can of zurek. It’s a soup made from sour rye complete with bits of sausage, potato, and hard-boiled eggs. The label claimed the can contained four portions. It’s probably true. I filled my bowl four times. There’s nothing like having breakfast and dinner at the same time.
Later in the day, before the concert took place, Gosia and Darek took me down to the neighboring rynek (Polish for market square) where festivities were taking place in celebration of the town’s unification. Bielsko and Biala used to be two separate towns. Vendors had their stalls filled with sausage, honey, and beer. There were Gorale, Polish highlanders, selling their traditional Oscypek, a smoked cheese made from salted sheep milk, served hot with cranberries – and my personal favorite, “slice of bread with dripping and pickle.” (Dripping is a dry-rendered lard, in this case from pork.)
New and old styles of cuisine go hand in hand in Poland. On Sunday Gosia, Darek and I went to get pizza. The two of them argued over which pizzeria had the best crust. In the end we chose the place with the thinnest. Gosia ended up buying pasta. She’s somewhat of a vegetarian. I got a pie with meat on it. Darek got a pie with a pear. On the way back to Cezar we stopped at a grocery market and bought a bag of young potatoes. We were going to roast them in a fire.
Gosia’s youngest daughter came up to the fire to roast some apples. By Tuesday I was following her and her mother to McDonald’s for dinner. Gosia bought a shrimp wrap and a filet-o-fish sandwich. I got the Wiesmac (Polish for “Village Mac”). Just the sandwich. No zestaw.