Monday: Dobrzyn

Sadly, this is the last report from my trip to Dobrzyn, as I take the afternoon train to Warsaw. We leave in 15 minutes for the station.

A typical day begins with me exiting my room at about 7:30 a.m. By that time, Andrzej and Malgorzata have already risen, showered, eaten breakfast, and are hard at work on Listy (“Letters from our Orchard,” their rationalist website).  They have adjoining desks, and are at it, save for food breaks and walkies, until about 11 p.m. You can see Cyrus the d*g sleeping at lower right:

AT work

Hili was out all night again, and didn’t come back yesterday until after breakfast. As always, she announces her presence by jumping on the windowsill and meowing. But she won’t come in on her own–someone has to go get her. This task fell to me:

Princess rescue 1


Princess rescue 2

After breakfast, a nap was in order for all carnivores:

Sleeping animals

For dinner Malgorzata made a special dish that she calls “famine dish,” as a version of it–made only with potatoes and onions–was staple peasant food in Sweden in times of famine. Malgorzata gussies up her dish (potatis gratäng) with cheese, ham, cream, and spices. It was served with homemade Polish pickles (krasne orgórki) and, of course, cold beer:


A dissection to show the layers:

Casserole inside

Walkies after dinner, and a pleasant time in the garden. Gosia invited another mother and her daughter over to be playmates for Hania, and everybody was hanging out in the yard, including the quadrupeds:


Andrzej, who loves children, had a chat with Hania, who is two:

Andrzej and Haniia

while Hili hung out under the tree:

Hili under trees

Finally, to commemorate my impending departure, we made a big bonfire in the front yard (it was cool), had a few beers, and chatted as the half moon rose:


And so a sad farewell to Dobrzyn and my friends, both human and carnivore. I will miss it and them, and the Albatross is waiting. . .


  1. Ian Hewitson
    Posted August 4, 2014 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Prof. Coyne is travelling now so it’s probably safe to ask. What’s the Albatross?

    • still learning
      Posted August 4, 2014 at 6:51 am | Permalink

      That’s the book he has recently written and is getting ready for publication.

      • Ian Hewitson
        Posted August 4, 2014 at 6:56 am | Permalink

        Ah, right. Some of the recent posts made it sound like he was going to be arrested on return to the US.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted August 4, 2014 at 7:19 am | Permalink

          That depends if the TSA have him on their “UnAmerican activities” watchlist. I’m sure that Ken Ham and co have been trying to get him listed for ages.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted August 4, 2014 at 7:23 am | Permalink

            I’ve been making the joke that my Canadian passport has been delayed because I follow Russian stuff on Twitter, try to shame my own PM for his religious & anti-science behaviour on Twitter & engage in openly atheist discussions (as well as identify myself as atheist) on social media.

            I guess I will find out the next time I try to fly.

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted August 4, 2014 at 7:34 am | Permalink

              Just having unpleasant flash-forwards to the Defenestration of Toronto.
              (It’s not Toronto, is it, but somewhere in Canada. To quote the TSA training manual, “Isn’t Margaret Atwood a Canuk? QED.”)

              • Posted August 4, 2014 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

                How do you defenestrate a whole city?

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted August 5, 2014 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

                A carefully place sonic boom? Or a medium-yield nuke?

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted August 6, 2014 at 5:24 am | Permalink

                Shhhh the NSA! You’ll get on the no-fly list! 😉

      • Dominic
        Posted August 4, 2014 at 7:00 am | Permalink

        And from my neck so free
        The Albatross fell off, and sank
        Like lead into the sea.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted August 4, 2014 at 7:10 am | Permalink

          You chose the happy part of the poem, I always quote this part (which might say something about me):

          Instead of the cross, the albatross
          About my neck was hung.

    • Dominic
      Posted August 4, 2014 at 6:53 am | Permalink

      The Book…

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted August 4, 2014 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      This may be better answered by people in the english culture sphere, but it is an allegory of The Burden That Can’t Be Put Down (penance) used as a metaphor. Or something like that.

      As I remember it Jerry has hinted that TBTCBPD is a book of his in progress.

      [My hope is that it will be a Sophisticated [well read] Response™ to Sophisticated Theology™, Jerry taking the bullet for the rest of us. I can dream, can’t I?]

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted August 4, 2014 at 7:12 am | Permalink

        Yes, it’s from Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The albatross is a symbol of good luck to sailors and, IIRC, the sailor shoots the albatross with a cross bow because they are all starving, then they have terrible luck, so his punishment is he has to wear the albatross around his neck.

  2. still learning
    Posted August 4, 2014 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    My eyeballs were getting fat seeing all those delicious noms so it’s good you’re coming home.

  3. Gayle Ferguson
    Posted August 4, 2014 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Yum. Recipe?

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 4, 2014 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      (1) Be in the middle of a famine ;
      (2) Peel, cook and eat anything you can.
      Repeat as necessary (if necessary, eat the peel).
      There’s a Terry Pratchett recipe somewhere … In “Small Gods” (the one about the tortoise without many believers), “Pets are always a great help in times of stress. And in times of starvation too, o’course.”

  4. darrelle
    Posted August 4, 2014 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    There are worse ways to spend an evening.

  5. jennyah46
    Posted August 4, 2014 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Absolutely fabulous! Working out how to make that dish without the Polish Pickles. Any chance of a recipe?

  6. Gayle Ferguson
    Posted August 4, 2014 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Many recipes found thanks to Mr Google. Translated from Swedish but has step by step photos

  7. Posted August 4, 2014 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    No farewell to the feline? or is she human?

  8. Hempenstein
    Posted August 4, 2014 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Famine dish: looks excellent! And this illustrates Hempenstein’s first culinary axiom (formulated last week): As long as you have onions, as long as there’s anything else edible in the house, more’n likely you’ll be able to make dinner.

    The second axiom: Even the worst beer can probably be used to advantage in cooking.

    • Posted August 4, 2014 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      Even if you have nothing else edible in the house, sautéed, caramelized, or even grilled onions can make a meal

  9. Posted August 4, 2014 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    For some reason. read carnivore as canine.

  10. Posted August 4, 2014 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    The famine dish dissection photo was much appreciated. 🙂

  11. Posted August 4, 2014 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Malgorzata, would you be willing to please share the recipe for the famine dish? Looks really good!

    • Malgorzata
      Posted August 4, 2014 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      I can inform the readers that Professor Ceiling Cat is now safely in Warsaw at the hotel by the airport. And here is the recipe for the “famine dish”:

      Slice 10 biggish potatoes into thin slices.
      Slice 1 big onion.
      Cut 200 gram good ham into strips.
      100 milliliter cream.
      Put a layer of potatoes on the bottom of a greased baking tray, sprinkle with salt, black peper and plenty of dried thyme.
      Next, spread the onion slices evenly over. Ham comes as the next layer. Cover with the remaining potato slices and add salt pepper and thyme.
      Pour cream over it and cover with grated cheese.
      Bake in the oven (210C) for 40-50 minutes.

      • Posted August 4, 2014 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

        Yes, indeed, i’m at the airport hotel, and wish mightily that I could dine on famine food. That was a GREAT dish. Thanks to Andrzej and Malgorzata once again (for the third time!) for their incomparable hospitality.

      • Posted August 4, 2014 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

        Malgorzata, are you perhaps of Swedish background? I make a similar dish, minus the cream but with a little butter, and with grated whatever leftover bits of cheese I have in the fridge. I then often cover with Plastic film (Saran Wrap) and nuke fir about 1/2 hr. It’s nice to make in the microwave when the kitchen’s alreadyhot enough.

        • Malgorzata
          Posted August 4, 2014 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

          My Swedish background consists of living in Sweden for 15 years. I like the country, I like the people and I liked plenty of dishes (though I can live happily without lutfisk).

          • Posted August 4, 2014 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

            Despite my 1/4 Norwegianess, i don’t believe I’ve ever tasted lutefisk, and as adventurous a cook and eater as I am, I am in no rush to sample it:-)

            • Posted August 5, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

              Someone I knew once (a Norwegian) described lutefisk to me as a cross between soap and vodka …

  12. alexandra
    Posted August 4, 2014 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Malgorzata needs to write a cook book for us all – with some profits going to free thinkers, FFRF or similar? All her recipes look so delicious…..and with a dedication to you, Professor.
    “Cooking for Skeptics”. “Food for Free Thinkers.” “Areligious Appetites.” “Rational Recipes.”

  13. Posted August 4, 2014 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    It would have to illustrated with Hili Dialogues about food (which almost all of them are anyway). Cats + Food = a sure best-seller.

  14. Posted August 4, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Great post. Thanks for sharing. Would have loved to share in those scrumptious repasts too.

  15. Posted August 5, 2014 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I often wonder about all these “peasant foods” and “starvation foods” (etc.) in Europe that contain potatoes. I don’t deny that potatoes were incredibly popular all over Europe once introduced. But they are from North America! What did the Irish, for example, do before hand? Starve by the thousands?

    • stephen
      Posted August 5, 2014 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      Potatoes are from Peru in South America,Keith.Before their introduction augmented and improved the diet of the majority of Europeans various grains,chestnuts and even acorns served as the main source of calories.

  16. michieux
    Posted August 17, 2014 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    Due to a computer disaster that put me off the air for quite some time, I have only now caught up with your posts from Dobrzyn. Thanks very much for doing that — I really enjoyed reading the posts, and the pictures were great (even though many of them made me salivate in the middle of the night, which is usually when I have the time to read my emails). Thanks again.

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