Cooking a Polish mealby William Skidelsky / February 22, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in March 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
Polish delis full of mysteriously labelled tins are becoming common
If a league table of world cuisines existed, Poland, it’s safe to say, wouldn’t be near the top. Currently riding high, I suspect, would be Denmark, home to the “world’s best restaurant,” Noma. Spain would be up there too. France, these days, would be mid-table, long ago eclipsed by Italy. China, Korea and Mexico would be rising fast. Poland, meanwhile, would be somewhere near the bottom, battling it out with the likes of Cuba, Ireland and the Philippines.
Yet despite this, Polish food in Britain is, in a way, flourishing. Since the country joined the EU in 2004, several hundred thousand Poles have come to live in Britain, joining the small number that arrived after the war. (Last year, the Office of National Statistics estimated that 532,000 Poles were resident in Britain.) Over the last decade, Polish sausage and pierogi have become common sights in grocery shops and many supermarkets have Polish sections. In areas where lots of Poles live, specialist delis have opened, with their cured meat counters, rows of pickled vegetables and mysterious tins labelled with words like bigos (hunters’ stew) and flaki (tripe).