Sadly, this is my last day in paradise. Tomorrow I must travel to Warsaw for lecturing, but will also engage in some sightseeing, and, of course, nomming. On the 14th I head to Krakow for a talk and a “debate” (a discussion, really).
Yesterday was the weekly market in Dobrzyn, so here are some photos:
This man was selling dried mushrooms from his car. He was surrounded by several other guys, and when I asked to take a picture, they moved aside because this guy, they said, was “The Boss.” I guess that means he’ll sell you a mushroom you can’t refuse!
This woman, apparently from a farm, was selling a variety of products including ducks, homemade honey, eggs, and potatoes.
When I asked what was in the bottles, I was told “blood”! Apparently the duck blood is used to make a soup called czernina.
I was also told of a Polish tradition: if a young man was courting a young woman, and visited her family’s home for dinner, it was a sign that he was not considered a suitable mate if the dinner started with this soup. The Polish word for this soup-indicated rejection was czarna polewka. (There were many reasons for rejection before meeting a potential suitor, including poverty and coming from a different town.)
Delicious vine-ripened tomatoes:
Much of the former market consisted of farmers, some of whom drove their produce to market in horsecarts. Now there are a lot of stalls selling cheap clothing from China, and the produce stalls have been displaced by a supermarket on the town square. Such is “progress.” Nevertheless, the supermarket also has a tempting variety of wares.
Take the meat section, for instance, which is loaded with sausages:
as well as a bunch of unidentified meat products, some of them en gelée:
My hosts, who don’t drink much, bought me a beer for dinner. This one, Zubr, is strong (6% alcohol) and its name means, as the picture suggests, “Bison.”
Pictured on the bottle is the famous European bison (Bison bonasus), a species distinct from the American bison, or buffalo. This species was indigenous to the Białowieża Forest, the last remaining patch of undisturbed forest in Europe. The forest straddles Poland and Belarus, and is a United Nations Heritage site. The bison were shot to extinction there, but have been reintroduced there and elsewhere.
Here’s a picture of one (not mine):
The beer, by the way, was very good.
A reader previously asked how to make those luscious poppy-seed cakes one finds in Poland. They’re time-consuming because you have to first soak and then purée the poppy seeds. The task is made considerably easier when you can buy them pre-puréed:
Several of the markets also sold sunflower heads; this is presumably so you can eat (or plant) the seeds:
Vodka is the Polish national drink, of course, and I’m told is consumed in vast quantities. Alcoholism, and drunk driving, appears to be a serious national problem.
Here’s the cherry pie that Malgorzata made yesterday. I have to note my own contribution of shelling three cups of walnuts for the crust. The combination of a heavily walnut-y crust and home-grown sour cherries made this the best cherry pie I’ve ever eaten:
After dinner last night we had a choice of two desserts: the pie or a homemade plum tart, also made by Malgorzata. Andrzej opted for the tart, leaving more pie for the rest of us. (Note that he is wearing a University of Chicago sweatshirt.)
I still maintain that the best of all possible breakfasts is pie (and coffee):
Hili was out in the rain this morning, returned home sodden, and immediately fell asleep (on the bed of Emma the d*g, who is always forced to sleep on the floor).
Once again she exposed her fangs:
Sadly, those fangs had been put to use, for Hili deposited a dead mammal on the front porch. I’m no mammalogist, but it looks like a shrew to me. I’m sure some reader can identify it: