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Tasting Poland's Staple Foods-Pierogies and Barley

I promised my readers a blog that would feature not only my own recipes, but some of the delicious foods I've tasted during my travels. This past summer, my entire

family traveled to Poland to explore historic cities, visit my Grandfather (AKA Dziadek), and hike in the gorgeous Tatras mountains. We were also fortunate to attend a traditional Polish wedding which by the way, deserves its own blog post (I mean they did have a bar entirely dedicated to meat and vodka)!!

Poland is a beautiful country and often overlooked as a European destination, but the charming old cities of Krakow and Warsaw along with its many hiking trails in the mountains puts this Eastern European country on the map. I should also mention the affordability of vacationing in Poland. For example, a half liter of good, local beer cost approximately $1 American dollar......amazing!!

My husband and I love trying cultural food, but I must confess, it was not my first time eating pierogies (and it wasn't my husbands either). I grew up in a very Polish household and pierogies were always a staple food, especially during the holidays.

I have very fond memories of my mother and grandmother spending many hours in the kitchen rolling out the dough, filling them with farmers cheese, and sealing them individually to form the perfect dumpling. If you are thinking this is labor intensive, you guessed right. I'll admit, I still haven't perfected my grandmother's recipe, but I'm pretty close and definitly screwed up a number of times to get it right.

When we traveled to Poland, pierogies were nearly everywhere. At the Krakow square, at the local rest stop, and even more so in tiny villages. Regardless of where we ate pierogies, they were all delcious and I can very much appreciate all of the hard work that goes into making these incredible dumplings.

Another staple food we ate alot of in Poland was barley. Barley is very abundant and grows well in Poland due to its rich agricultural land. Barley is also a whole grain that is packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber and commonly served as a side dish in entrees or as an ingredient in Polish soups, stews, and stuffed cabbage. One of the meals that I savored in Poland was a chicken cutlet with mushrooms, barley, and a yogurt dill sauce. I was so completely satisfied after I ate this meal and remembered why I loved eating barley, it is healthy, filling, and goes great with just about anything!

Besides these two staples, Polish people enjoy eating cabbage, potatoes, mushrooms, stews, soups, meat, and did I mention dessert? One of my favorite desserts is a simple pound cake with raisins and cheese called "Babka", however Polish doughnuts called "Paczki" are filled with jelly and covered with powdered sugar. They were my favorite when I was growing up.

I am so thrilled I had an opportunity to explore my heritage and visit this beautiful country. See ya next time Poland, you know I'll be back :) By the way, for those of you who are reading this and thinking it is time to eat, I'll say "Smacznego".

Barley is one of Poland's staple grains, used in a variety of entrees for lunch and dinner.

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