Poland: Dobrzyn and Poznań

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:

1. Cherries

Not yet ripe, but soon. . .

2 cherries

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:

4a. Apples

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:

2a. Darek Observing snails

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.

3. Snails

4. Snails

Dinner in Dobrzyn: salad, potatoes, Swedish meatloaf, and some Czech beer brought by Darek.
5. Meatloaf

. . . and pickles grown and preserved by Elzbieta, half of Leon’s staff:

6. Pickle

Several of these images, with the label “Behold, a cat” (reminiscent of Ecce Homo), were painted onto the walls of the Dobrzyn railway station:

7. Ito kot

A modern Polish train at the Wloclawek railway station, my gateway to Poznan (I changed at Kutno):

8. Polish train

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.

9. Poznan square

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:

10. Town hall

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.

11. Menu

My hosts in Poznan were Borys, a bioinformatics scientist at the university, and his wife Joanna, who works on maritime economics and sociology:

12. Borys & Janna

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.

13. Singer pate

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:

14. Stuffed Cabbage

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.

15. horseradish soup

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:

16. Goose liver and potatoes

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.

17. Cholent

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.”

18. Haroset

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.

19. Pascha

And the familiar blintzes, filled with cheese, raisins, figs, and almonds

20. Blintzes

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:

21. Buffet 1

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.

22. Buffet 2

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:

23. Beer

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:

24. Bliniburger

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.

25. Dumplings

Another Polish dish that’s also part of Jewish cuisine: latkes (potato pancakes), served with sour cream.

26. Latkes

Joanna had strawberry pierogi, classic Polish dumplings that can be filled with almost anything: meat, potatoes, sauerkraut, mushrooms, or, for dessert, fruit:

27. Strawberry Pierogi

With the bill came three complimentary shots of cherry liqueur, a Polish favorite:

28. Strawberry cordial

After a day of eating like that, there’s only one thing to do: sleep it off. Goodnight!

30. Goodnight


  1. George
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Posts like this should come with trigger warnings. Laptop almost shorted out from my drool.

  2. Posted August 10, 2016 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    It’s lunch time here!!!!! * drools*

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    What a spectacular city hall. They sure know how to take boring out of government.

  4. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    There is a parasitic worm, a fluke I think, that makes snails crawl up plant stalks to be eaten by a bird. The bird host is needed by the parasite to complete its life cycle. But in the info I have, the snail is still alive when it sits at the top of a plant.

    • Jacques Hausser
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      It is not the case here. The species is probably Xerolenta obvia (not 100 % sure) or another species of the same family (Hygromiidae). Snails have two strategies available to avoid overheating in summer. The highest temperatures are at the surface of the soil itself, it becomes cooler either if you bury yourself in the soil or if you climb on the vegetation. Species with this kind of coloration (whitish, frequently with dark bands) use climbing, close their shell with a membrane of dried mucus to keep their water content, and stay so in “suspended life” until the temperature drops and the wetness increases. It is quite frequent to see such a spectacle in the mediterranean region, but it can be found everywhere in sunny places with a rather dry soil.

  5. Debbie Coplan
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    I love this post. I have never been to Poland but I feel like I have now…It’s wonderful to see not only the food, but the town and where you are staying. I can feel the hospitality of all your friends there.
    Thank you for sharing and enjoy your week…

  6. Rick
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Re: “… not being fond of the inner organs of beasts and fowls.”

    But the rest you ate with relish, right?

    Your food pics look great. Made me feel a bit peckish.

  7. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    I see the eLife gang symbol

  8. Posted August 10, 2016 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Oh! I’m so hungry now! And it’s a long way to lunch! 🙂

  9. Darren Garrison
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Re: the snails. Parasitised by Green Banded Broodsacks?


  10. Posted August 10, 2016 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Thanks for all of the photos and info! The next-best thing to being there.👧🏼👍🍀

  11. Ken Elliott
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    I admire your eclectic palate that allows you to relish the foods of foreign places. Have you ever been to Japan? I don’t think you’ve been there since I’ve been following WEIT. The food adventure in Japan is tremendous for those that enjoy food from the sea.

  12. bluemaas
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Well, IF one is in A Big Ol’ Pickle,
    THEN just chuck it right on down
    cuz its puckering sour ‘ll turn one’s
    Life into A Bowl of Cherries !

    Sweet !

    ps I have no technical idea if this’d be possible or not: Is there a way, Dr Coyne,
    we readers could actually hear (some of)
    these descriptions in the Polish tongue,
    say, as an audio edition ?

    Were I the one traveling alone
    (which I so do like to do:
    that is, to take pilgrimages solo) to a
    strange – to – me destination and,
    to get there, say, changing trains,
    then I would be quite concerned that,
    deaf as I am, I would not be able
    to catch and to understand … … stuffs:
    train – like things, nom – like things.

    I feel sadness for the snails. Golly !

  13. Posted August 10, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    LOL. JAC gives a talk in Poznan and we get pictures of food and none of the talk. 🙂

    • Posted August 10, 2016 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Who would take pictures of the talk? Plus there would be only one–of me behind a lectern. BORING!

      • Posted August 10, 2016 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        You are never boring, PCC.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted August 10, 2016 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

        Not even shots (defocussed to preserve a hint of anonymity) of the central heating glowing a … (searches for word) … an inflammation red?

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted August 10, 2016 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        Why are you using DJT- style syntax? GREAT HONER!

  14. Barry Lyons
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    I would love to visit Poland, but I assure you that if I ever do, I will not be ordering “goose cunt” from the menu.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      My Parson cock a snook at your nose.

  15. Vaal
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Wonderful shots, especially of the food, as usual Jerry.

    The exception for me is the goose liver image, which makes the bile rise to the back of my throat. I’m a foodie and generally willing to try anything that is not an organ.
    I gave up trying to acquire a taste for liver or organs, even pate or foie gras, after many a fine meal was ruined by the taste. I waved the white flag on those.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      I’m a foodie and generally willing to try anything that is not an organ.

      So, how is your jellyfish diet doing? (after removing the eyes, of course).
      Are muscles not organs?

      • Vaal
        Posted August 10, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

        You didn’t know what I mean? Like what pretty much every person would mean by that term when discussing food? And also what type of anatomical parts are referenced in terms like “organ donation?”

        Ok, for the pedants: internal organs.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted August 11, 2016 at 11:43 am | Permalink

          Are not muscle organs? And bones? Internal ones too.
          If you’re referring to what are generally referred to as “offal”, then there are terms like “offal”, “lights” (remember the Hanibal Lecter scene about “lights in or lights out?”), “umbles” … and that’s not even stretching beyond present English. I’ve never seen “organs” used in that way, probably because there are so many existing words for such vitals. Or even “vittles.”

  16. ChrisH
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Don’t go to central or eastern Europe if you want to diet!

    Well, if you’re vegetarian or vegan you may have some problems but it’s certainly improving.

    • Posted August 10, 2016 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Yes, it has been my (limited) impression that Eastern Europe is likely the worst place to get vegetarian and vegan food.

      Not that I know too much about the cuisine: I’ve learned a fair bit from these periodic lessons from Jerry and his friends!

    • Scientifik
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      Vegan spots are mushrooming in Warsaw

      • Posted August 11, 2016 at 1:41 am | Permalink

        My hosts were largely vegan, but would eat meat or fish if it were the only choice, but they also told me that there were many vegan restaurants in Poland, and that having a vegan diet at home was not difficult.

        • Posted August 12, 2016 at 11:31 am | Permalink

          Good! Even if one is not (and I’m not) having more food choices will only improve matters.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      In 199…5 (had to think) I was advised that the “bean soup” in the (Dutch) canteen of a multinational company was “vegetarian, if you pick the bits of sausage out”.
      I’m not a veggie now, but I’d be a bit less insensitive if I ran a face-filling business.

  17. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Strictly speaking, from the photo, that “Singer paté” appears to be more of a terrine than a pâté.

    And speaking of goose parts, my buddy the chef invited me along recently to a high-end food show. One of the featured booths was serving foie gras. Now, I don’t approve of gavage, and would never do anything to encourage it, but I’m here to tell you, that stuff is some tasty.

    • darrelle
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      I think it must depend on quality and proper preparation, as with most things. I’ve had two opportunities to try foie gras. The first time it was pretty bad. I tried hard to like it but it was just greasy, pasty blah. The second time it was sublime. Agree about the geese.

  18. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Yum! All the food looks so good!

    Poor snails!

    Canadians in Ontario who like Polish food, if you don’t know about it already, Starsky is the place to go. Polish people I work with approve!

  19. Posted August 10, 2016 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    I guess it is because Canada and Poland share colours, but that train looks a lot like Ottawa’s O-Train.

  20. Helen Hollis
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    I dearly love a good loaf of polish caraway rye bread. It’s my second favorite bread in the world. My favorite is the Finnish rye bread. Either one will make me smile with each bite.

  21. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Is lunch the biggest meal of the day in Poland? And then they take a nap?

  22. Dominic
    Posted August 12, 2016 at 3:31 am | Permalink

    You should ask Steve Jones about the snails!

%d bloggers like this: