Friday, June 17, 2011

Strawberry Time!

One thing I must say about Northern Europe, the produce comes to market far earlier than I am used to.
I come from a place where strawberries are only beginning in mid-June and are full fledged in the beginning of July.  In Poland, strawberries burst onto the scene in late May and early June.  Soon, every peddler on the street is hawking baskets of strawberries upon strawberries.  Cherries will follow in the coming weeks, and I am looking forward to that.
Selling strawberries out of a van.
 A traditional way to prepare the strawberries (besides jams and jellies) is to hull them, cut them, sprinkle them with sugar so they form a tart, sweet, chunky sauce of sorts.  This versatile way of prepping the strawberries allows them to be ladled over nalesniki (crepes) stuffed with cheese, put into fruit smoothies, and mixed with yogurt and cream and eaten with pasta.
Fresh-bought strawberries ready to be washed.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Polish Way to Ask Questions

One aspect of Polish culture is its rather indirectness.  They are rarely blunt and have an irritating way of asking questions that take a few moments' thought to figure out what exactly they are asking.  It's all in an attempt to play down awkwardness, but if you aren't used to it, you will find it infuriating.
Poles will be more likely to ask if "you don't need anything."  This, typically, would be seen as rather rude in many other cultures, implying that the one asking is hoping there no immediate needs as it would be a bother to him.  It's actually implying that the inquired-about is not helpless and can manage on his own, but it also leaves open a small polite door for the petition of assistance.  Another example is "Tell me about the girl/boyfriend you don't have."  This seems like a convoluted, illogical statement (and it is), but it's Polish for "Why are you single?"  Now, a direct "Why are you single?" is probably a faux pas in many cultures, and this is just how they skirt the issue.
I have found the best way to settle these throw-you-for-a-loop questions is to tackle them head-on.  When a Pole asks a stumper, just reply with a, "Are you asking what my father does?  He's a lawyer."  (NOTE:  The author's father is not in the legal profession.)  After being confronted with evidence of their sly mind-bending inquiries, the Pole will most likely look a little sheepish and say, "Yes, I am [asking that]."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Little Bit of the Countryside

I know many think that the Polish countryside is nothing really to look at.  It's true that it doesn't exactly conjure up the image of delightful little medieval hamlets as one would find in Germany, France, and Britain; however, some flashes of quaintness are apt to appear.  Recently, I was on a ride through the outskirts near southern Warsaw, so I snapped a few pictures here and there.  One thing can be said for the outlying areas: they have shitloads of hardware stores and fabric shops.

While there are farms that dot the area, they are not as picturesque as one would hope.  Maybe it was the route I took, or that I didn't delve deeper into the countryside, but it is a little underwhelming.  Common complaints are a lack of building codes or regulated construction, or scars left over from an aborted attempt at collectivization.  Oh, and a few massive wars that eliminated any sort of old cozy collection of buildings.

Tilling a plot with a horse.  I was moving too quickly to get a clear shot.

A carpet of poppies and (I think) forget-me-nots in a field.

Drinking outside a general store.

More fields.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Recipe: Spicy Pickles (Ostre Ogorki Konserwowe)

While eating lunch at work, I noticed a coworker had sliced spicy pickles.  He offered me a taste, and I found them quite pleasing, and duly asked him for his recipe.  Later, he sent me the recipe his mother uses (who made the pickles), and now I pass it off to you.  Enjoy.

2.5 kg of cucumbers
0.5 kg of sugar
1 cup of water
1 cup of vinegar
8 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons sweet paprika powder
2 tablespoons hot pepper (cayenne) powder
4 tablespoons salt
1.5 cloves garlic

1) Cut the cucumbers and cover with salt Let stand until water leeches out of the cucumbers. Pour off water.
2) Boil all remaining ingredients.
3) Cut cucumbers, put into a jar(s), pour in marinade mixture, and leave overnight.
4) The next day, screw on the caps to the jars and boil to seal (canning process.)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sense, This Makes None

While this is a fine advertisement, do you think they really needed to place two billboards right next to each other?  Did Calzedonia pay for X-amount of billboards (or by square feet) and the companies that owned these boards were just lazy  ("Fuck it, let's just put 'em both right here.") or was this area of the city a potential gold mine of swimsuit buyers?

A very good optimization of ad space

Speaking of advertising, go ahead, click 'em.