There will be no “Readers’ Wildlife” today, for I have many pictures from Dobrzyn and my trip to Poznan. First, some cherries, as I am still getting my daily pie (another one will be made today). These ones are ready for cooking:
Not yet ripe, but soon. . .
The apples are ripe, too, but there are too many to eat. Andrzej and Malgorzata used to take them to the local schools for the kids, but the schools don’t want them any more:
We had a visitor: Darek, a teacher from southern Poland who also publishes atheist and rationalist books. Here he and Andrzej are discovering the Mass Snail Death Climb documented below:
For some reason (and I’ve seen this in Dorset, too), thousands of snails in Dobrzyn have climbed up the vegetation and apparently died in situ. I’m not sure of the species (perhaps Cepaea), nor whether this behavior is induced by a parasite that propagates itself by making the snails climb before they die (some fungi and nematodes cause such a behavior in ants, making them more visible to birds, the parasites’ subsequent host). But the snails all appeared to be dead.
. . . and pickles grown and preserved by Elzbieta, half of Leon’s staff:
Several of these images, with the label “Behold, a cat” (reminiscent of Ecce Homo), were painted onto the walls of the Dobrzyn railway station:
A modern Polish train at the Wloclawek railway station, my gateway to Poznan (I changed at Kutno):
The town square of the lovely city of Poznań, an important city (one of the seats of the kings) in ancient Poland. Like many Polish towns, including Warsaw, it was destroyed during World War II and rebuilt. This is the town square, which reminds me of Kraków.
The Town Hall. Apparently, at noon two bronze goats appear in the window below the clock and butt each other 12 times. Sadly, I was lecturing at noon and didn’t see that:
Dinner on Sunday was at the Ludwiku du Rondla restaurant, which had some unusual items on menu. One adventurous soul ordered “goose cunt”, which was, I believe “pipek” in Polish, or the stuffed esophagus of a goose. The name apparently comes from the fancied resemblance of that dish to vaginas, but since they were out of it, I never got to see.
My hosts in Poznan were Borys, a bioinformatics scientist at the university, and his wife Joanna, who works on maritime economics and sociology:
I of course avoided the nether parts of geese, starting instead with the “Singer paté,” which was described as Jewish beef pate made with pistachios and plums pickled in plum vodka. There was cheese and horseradish on the side. It was very good.
And then a traditional Polish/Jewish dish: stuffed cabbage with mushroom sauce (they were out of tomato sauce). My mother used to make a similar dish:
Despite having a bad experience with “horseradish soup” several years ago, Darek decided to order it again. He didn’t like it any better this time.
He also ordered goose livers with roasted potatoes. I didn’t try this dish, not being fond of the inner organs of beasts and fowls:
Others ordered cholent, a traditional Jewish dish served on the Sabbath since it can be cooked in advance and kept warm (no cooking on the Sabbath!). The ingredients are meat, potatoes, beans, and barley. Someone remarked that this looked like Mexican food.
Blini: a traditional Russian/Ukrainian dish that’s been culturally appropriated by the Poles. These are pancakes made from buckwheat and wheat flour, served here with redcurrant sauce and sour cream:
A traditional Jewish dessert: charoset, made from grated apple, raisins, honey, cinnamon, and wine, served with “sponge fingers”. Wikipedia says this about the dish, which can be made in various ways:
Its color and texture are meant to recall mortar (or mud used to make adobe bricks) which the Israelites used when they were enslaved in Ancient Egypt as mentioned in Tractate Pesahim (page 116a) of the Talmud. The word “charoset” comes from the Hebrew word cheres — חרס — “clay.”
This dessert is called pascha, described on the menu as “Jewish,” and consisting of “cottage cheese and dried fruit.” It was, however, more like ricotta than American cottage cheese.
And the familiar blintzes, filled with cheese, raisins, figs, and almonds
I stayed in a lovely hotel near the Old Town, and every morning there was a groaning breakfast buffet, as is usual in Poland. (This is catching on in America.) Poles like lots of meats, cheeses, and salads for breakfast, but there were also eggs, sausages, and pastries. The right half of one of the two buffet tables:
The left half, with meats, more salads, and, to the left, chafing dishes with scrambled eggs, sausages, and blini. There was another buffet table with yogurt, pastries, fruit, bread, and coffee.
For lunch after my talk we went to a quaint Polish place in the Old Town, where I had a local dark beer; it was very good:
I also had what might be described as a “Polish hamburger”: two buckwheat blini with roast pork and lettuce inside, covered with a mushroom gravy. It was excellent:
Only a few hours later we dined at the Wiejskie Jadlo restaurant, famous for its “rural trough,” a literal wooden trough filled with local delicacies. We were three and you need four to get The Trough. (We were too full anyway!) I had this classic dish, described on the English menu as “Gray dumplings with bacon and onion served with fried cabbage” (sauerkraut). At this point I could barely eat, having had lunch only a few hours before.
Another Polish dish that’s also part of Jewish cuisine: latkes (potato pancakes), served with sour cream.
Joanna had strawberry pierogi, classic Polish dumplings that can be filled with almost anything: meat, potatoes, sauerkraut, mushrooms, or, for dessert, fruit:
With the bill came three complimentary shots of cherry liqueur, a Polish favorite:
After a day of eating like that, there’s only one thing to do: sleep it off. Goodnight!