Accompanying a native Pole to her home in a small Polish community
in June is like spring in Austin. Nature and this lake resort community’s hard work produced a cornucopia of berries, fruits, vegetables and dairy products. My Polish hostess relished preparing local specialties both for my education and everyone’s pleasure. And, she wanted to make sure I had ample opportunity to share in their bounty.
I tried to hold to my diet but my Polish hostess would not hear of it. One morning I was offered Milk Soup for breakfast. I grew-up milking cows and had never heard of Milk Soup, so when I saw it, I said “No Way!” But after taking a sip, I discovered it was delicious. It was white like milk and had all sizes of lumps in it. When I asked how the milk soup was made, the answer was “Google it.” And that was the standard reply to my request for recipes for the rest of the visit, maybe to protect family heirloom recipes or maybe due to translation difficulty.
Portions were suitable for those doing hard labor. The Milk Soup was in a huge bowl with three times the amount I requested. Next came “one scrambled egg” which must have been an ostrich egg because it was enough for four people. I was so stuffed after breakfast that I was in pain. One hour later, the cooked asked, “Are you hungry? I have a ham and cheese sandwich to tide you over.”
I ate everything placed before me so as not to offend the cook. And the organic dishes continued: potato dumplings, red cabbage, borscht, Polish pancakes the size of a large skillet, pickle soup and homemade cottage cheese. “Freshly made today,” the cook said. And, she could have added, “with fresh-harvested ingredients.” Next were meat bilinis with mushroom gravy and cheese blinies with strawberry sauce. They made the awesome strawberry sauce by “just smashing the strawberries we bought from the farmer’s market today.” The ultimate palate party came from the wild Chanterelle mushrooms picked fresh in one hour from a Polish forest 15 minutes from the home of the family I was visiting. One hour after cleaning and slicing the mushrooms, the cook served them with butter and the next day with eggs and soups. They were divine.
Eleven days of delicious traditional Polish food wrecked my diet, but it gave me priceless experiences and memories of living with a Polish family for 11 days. And I have the 11 additional pounds to show for that wonderful visit.