Monday, February 9, 2009

Polish Food: Smalec

At first description, smalec (small-lets) seems to be one of the most repulsive foods imaginable. It's bacon grease (yes, bacon grease) with seasonings and onions, and used as a spread. It is, however, quite delicious. My first encounter with it was at the Folk Gospoda restaurant. Smalec was served as an free appetizer and my gracious host, K, insisted on me trying it, "I really want you to try this. It's one of my favorites."
By the way, Folk Gospoda is a pretty cool restaurant in Warsaw. They sell beer in giant mugs and five-liter graduated cylinders, plus the food is pretty good and they have live music. The tables are all picnic tables and the decor is common with many other traditional restaurants, in that it's supposed to be like a peasant's house.
Anyway, the smalec came with a basket of bread. It sat there in the bowl, looking like a collection of gray vomit, waiting for me to try it. Regardless of how it looked, it tasted really good!!! The piggy taste of normal bacon grease was absent, and all that was left was a savory flavor that was quite enjoyable. The texture is more akin to hummus than butter or shortening like Crisco. The cholesterol content must be off the charts (i.e. don't eat this stuff every day. Crack it out only for occasions.)
NOTE: I had no alcohol when I ate this meal, but apparently smalec and beer go along together well. Next time I encounter it (as I surely will) I'll probably update this post with my most professional opinion.

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