My relationship with food in its early days, was a very complex one.
As a young woman in her late teens and early twenties, I lived on tuna salads, diet coke and cigarettes. A combination at the time which kept me lithe, lovely and hungry!
Marrying my husband, I became adept at cooking dishes inspired by global cuisine straight out of a box, stored in the freezer and cooked in a microwave. Even then, many meals committed suicide before he came home and ended up lying alone, unwanted, in the bottom of a kitchen rubbish bin.
At the birth of my first child, I realised I needed to learn to cook. The sustenance I took from cigarettes and tuna, was not enough to keep a child filled nutritionally, to ensure good growth and bones and so my relationship with food developed. I learnt to make home made pasta, tomato sauces and a plethora of other dishes from across the world. As I travelled more – the greater my experience with the world’s cuisine developed and the fragrant flavours and tastes of different dishes became the norm to serve up in our household. On visiting Poland, I wasn’t sure what to expect and didn’t think I would enjoy the food but Kraków surprised me.
From the moment we left our studio apartment to explore this little city, it became a food exploration. Something which was unexpected. I had wondered what would grab my interest here and one of the first things I noticed was how easy it was to walk to all the different areas worth visiting. In the Old Town, the historic heart of the city – with its cobbled streets and colourful horse drawn carriages – it was a beer with a side order of people watching and a stroll around the shops which grabbed my attention.
Close to the banks of the Vistula river, we encountered a street food market on the friday afternoon. Our tastebuds tempted, we especially wanted to try the polish pierogi. Both fried and boiled with fillings consisting of pork and vegetables, spinach, garlic and mushrooms and mash potato and meat. They were delicious and cheap.
Turning left out of our apartment, the first road we encountered took us into Kazimierz . The jewish quarter. An area full of bijou restaurants, food shops and bars. Here La Baguette was the place in which we indulged our sweet tooth. This tiny pastry store whose specialty is making and selling fresh tarts with a crispy bottom, was a wonderful find. Especially with the way they packaged up your food, in paper and string, for you to take away. It made the mouthfuls taste decadent. Although there were no baguettes in sight!
The Zapienka – the polish version of a french bread pizza. A yummy street food take away. Well deserved after a friday night drinking in the many bars surrounding Plac Nowy, was a definite hit with Vin and me. With its circular street food emporium central to the square – it is a wonderful place to hang out and explore-try polish vodka or enjoy a pint of Tyskie or two, in one of the many, tiny, contemporary or traditional bars close by. It felt a safe area to walk alone in and many people were out enjoying the nightlife.
A short walk from where we stayed and we were at the banks of the Vistula. Visitors are able to walk across the Bernatek footbridge, straddling both sides of the splendid river. Connecting Krakow to the little district of Podgórze. Go for a weekend, get up early on the saturday morning and you will find the main square filled with a farmers market – selling fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers. We arrived too late to see it in full swing.
On March 21, 1941, the entire Jewish population residing in Kazimierz were marched across the Silesian Uprisings Bridge and crammed into what was to become known as the Podgórze Ghetto. Traces of the Ghetto still exist, including a prominent stretch of the wall on ul. Lwowska. Liquidated on March 14, 1943, the majority of the Ghetto’s residents were murdered there, while others met death in the nearby Liban quarry and Płaszów concentration camp, or in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bełżecn . inyourpocket.com
Now I’ve been to Kraków, I would be tempted on visiting again, to do a private walking tour of Kazimieriz and Podgórze . To delve a little deeper into the lives and realities, involving the atrocities and suppression of the citizens of this wonderful city. A 4 hour food tour to experience, understand and taste more of its delicious food and enjoy its bars for a relaxing weekend. There is so much to grab your attention here, from its historical origins to the modern history and trauma of the Second World War. It is a colourful, interesting and enjoyable place to visit. Perfect for a long weekend or a short break away.