Polish people are proud people who love to eat, drink, and have a good time. Their cuisine can be defined in two words - comfort, and heart. On account of their country’s bitter winters, Poles have a natural affinity for warming stews and hearty bakes, and the national dish “Bigos” is a perfect representation of this.
World-famous cities like Warsaw and Krakow are known for their food scenes, and traditional and contemporary Polish restaurants line their streets. If you want the real Polish deal, however, and as everyone knows, you go to the streets. Polish street food is as delicious as it is filling, and the best part about it? It is pleasant on the back pocket.
European nations like Italy, France, and Germany may have long-reigning legacies in food. Poles, however, are doing their darndest to mix it with the best, and you can get some seriously good food for seriously scorched prices on its streets because of it. Let’s take you there now.
Zapiekanka is Poland’s take on pizza and it is one of the country’s go-to street foods of the modern day. Zapienkanka may have only burst onto the scene in the late 70s, but it did not hang about long, quickly asserting its saucy self as a treasure of the nation.
Polish pizza is done a little differently. Instead of complicating things with dough and pizza ovens, the toppings (and there are a lot of them) get cozy on an open-face baguette or similarly-shaped bread roll. We’re talking sautéed white mushrooms, bacon bits, crumbly feta, grated cheese, and if you’re lucky, spicy Polish sausage.
The two stacked bread halves are then grilled until crispy and served hot with extra ketchup. You could quite easily make this at home to conjure a memory of stumbling down some Krakow backstreet only to go and bump into a Zapiekanka-slinging vendor, (and we suggest you do).
Do you know how we said you could be lucky to stumble upon Zapiekanka that features Polish sausage? Well, Kielbasa is that sausage. Poles absolutely love their sausage and nowhere does it quite the same, and they are very proud of that.
Kielbasa is a very traditional Polish food that can be found on the streets, in supermarkets, at restaurants, and in the national dish of Bigos stew. Yes, it is everywhere. Kielbasa is not confined by type of meat, which is a great thing as you can sample every cut.
It is, however, defined by its coarse texture, and unique U-shape. Kielbasa also has a unique flavor profile brought on at the hands of herbs, spices, and a smoking process. Order it off the street, and you may just get an honest helping of fried onions by its side. Wash it down with a Polish pilsner or a shot of vodka and you will know exactly where you are, you’re in Poland!
Across Europe, Pierogi is undoubtedly one of Poland’s most known foods. Although these delectable dumplings have origins in China, Polish culture and Pierogi go hand in greasy hands. This humble peasant dish of the 17th century has stayed with Poland through thick, and thin. Doing its part to feed the people when times have been tough.
The cool thing about Pierogi is that it can and will be filled with any local ingredient that is good. The only prerequisite is that it must be made with unleavened dough and cooked in boiling water. Often, they are also pan-fried just before serving to offer a delightful little crunch. Potato, onion, and cottage cheese is a classic savory number, while seasonal berry Pierogi is a go-to sweet treat.
Knysza is another street-food favorite of the late-night crowd. Why? Because it goes big and ticks all the boxes. Think of Knysza along the same flavor-filled lines as a doner kebab and you will be in the right ballpark.
It is a simple and effective fast food that serves a purpose while doing every vodka-soaked partygoer a serious justice. A semicircular bread roll gets loaded with a diverse lineup of ingredients, doused in garlic sauce, mayonnaise, and hot sauce, topped with roasted onions and served en masse. You can find meat, vegetarian, and cheese versions of Knysza, which has helped make it everyone’s favorite fast food when a hole needs filling.
As its name suggests, Obwarzanek Krakowski is a food of Krakow. In Poland, it is often referred to, simply as “Obwarzanek”. This boiled baked pastry is best compared to a bagel, except it is not no ordinary bagel. When you order one off a street in Krakow, you can’t help but notice that the size of a regular bagel pales in comparison to what is in your hand.
On closer inspection, you will see that its dough will be woven in two strands, unlike a bagel’s one. Before being baked, the top side of an Obwarzanek is loaded with tastemakers like spice, cheese, herb, salt, and onion, with a sprinkling of poppy seeds for good measure. This is another reason why Obwarzanek stands out from the regular bagel crowd and makes it a formidable meal all on its lonesome.
RurkiRounding out our list of Poland’s best street foods is a real sweet and creamy treat. Rurki is a popular Polish dessert consisting of a thin and crunchy pastry that is filled with a naughty amount of whipper or pastry cream.
It is a perfect dessert to eat while cruising the streets because it holds well and can be munched down in your right hand while pointing out something peculiar with your left. Rurki has evident ties to Turkey and Bulgaria where a similar dessert is sold almost everywhere. However, ask any Pole and they will tell you that Rurki is Polish and that is the short of it.
Conclusion So there you have it. Six of Poland’s most important street foods destined to make you hungry now and full later. Whether you are looking to put on a Polish-inspired spread at home or you’re flying out to Europe tomorrow, we hope this article has opened your eyes to the legitimacy of Polish food. Designed to feel and taste like home, there is nothing pretentious about it and the people are exactly the same.
To experience Sicily and its full culinary potential, you must eat as the locals do. Whether that be eating your way through Palermo’s streets, picking what’s good at a seafood market in Taormina, or dining at a starred restaurant in Ragusa, Sicilians take their mealtime very seriously (and so should you).
To ensure you are tucking into the best of Sicily, we are about to serve you its best food tours. Technically, Sicily is part of Italy, but its cuisine and culture tell a different story and that story is diversity. A melting pot of influence has given Sicily its own foods to be proud of and these tours do a mighty fine job at showcasing every last bite of them.
Palermo Food and Wine Night Tour
Streaty is the O.G. food tour company of Palermo and the Food and Wine Night Tour is their most popular offering. After the name roll has been called at Teatro Massimo, Streaty’s signature tour kicks off with a glass of Sicilian sparkling and an intriguing selection of Sicilian-style bruschetta at their favorite wine-slinging haunt.
From here, you will weave, wind, and get “lost” in Palermo’s backstreets as you try a lot of what the city’s street food scene is renowned for. We’re talking panelle, ham crostini, more Sicilian wine, and, of course, sfincione. Sfincione is a crusty deep-pan Sicilian-style pizza that must be a gift from the heavens. Ending in Piazza Fonderia nearby to the city’s old port, you will be finished off by the best gelato in town.
This is a well-priced street food and wine tour that manages to showcase Palermo’s street eats as well as give you a brief yet interesting overview of its culture and history. Three hours from start to end, it is the perfect precursor to a night out in Palermo with your newfound tour friends.
Hidden Sicily Tour
If you have a week up your sleeve and are looking to book something special, the Hidden Sicily Tour is that something. Keeping guest numbers purposefully low, a team of expert local guides and a dedicated tour manager will cater to your every need while showing you a side of Sicily that tourists don’t normally see. Off-the-beaten-path historical sites, unspoiled villages, pristine national parks, a stop by a traditional hunting lodge, the Cammarata ice road, we could go on and on but you’re better off experiencing it for yourself.
Included in this weeklong Sicilian excursion of a lifetime is every meal (authentic Sicilian only of course). Entrance fees to sites/ museums, all hotel city taxes, a private minibus, and airport transfers. Accommodation-wise, your time will be split between agrotourism venues with farm-to-table menus and boutique hotels in towns like Gangi and Scopello.
As you can imagine, a tour of this magnitude doesn’t come cheap. If, however, you only have seven days and you want to make every second count, you could do a lot worse than the Hidden Sicily Tour.
For the thrillseekers and off-road enthusiasts amongst us, how does a 4x4 adventure to the active volcano of Mount Etna sound? This 4x4 excursion and tasting lunch tour runs out of Catania and is a real unique treat. The tour starts wherever you are (granted you are in or around Catania), heads to where the road ends, and keeps on truckin’.
After venturing through chestnut woods and a puma cola apple orchard, you will be taken to the iconic Valle del Bove. Famous for its rock formations and lava spires, the scale of this site is a sight to behold. Bottoniera Dei Monti Sartorius is the next natural wonder you will be driven to. We predict you will be scooping your jaw up off the floor after taking in this moon-like landscape.
There are a couple more geographical phenomena to observe on your way to the final stop of the tour (the eating and drinking part). A Masterclass of local wines, specialty Sicilian products, and local dishes that pertain to the peculiarities of the region - this tour has no counterpart in Sicily. It takes six hours from hotel pick-up to drop-off, and for folks with a wild streak who like to eat, it’s perfect.
Just up the coast from Catania, you will find one of the most spectacular towns in all of Sicily. Taormina is angelically perched on a hillside that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the east while Mount Etna towers to the west. Taormina Gourmet Food and Wine Tour captures the beauty and essence of this picturesque town while serving you plenty of delicious local eats.
Fish plucked fresh that day, bruschetta, cheese, marmalade, caponata, cannoli, and torrone are a few such local delicacies. Wash it all down with a delectable selection of fine Italian and Sicilian wines. Red, white, sparkling, name your flavor and it will be poured into your glass and topped up accordingly.
Finishing you off with specialty desserts and Italian liqueurs, you just know you’re having a cheeky snooze back at the hotel after this boozy tour. The entire tour takes just three hours but feels like an eternity as you step back in time to discover Sicilian culinary traditions, learn the local history and eat your fill.
Sicily regarded as a top foodie destination in the world is nothing new. Every food lover loves to tell of their times spent in Sicily, but none of them have experienced a tour like the ones listed above. Revolving around good and authentic food (as a prerequisite), each tour offers a totally unique, culturally significant Sicilian experience. We hope you make it one day soon.
If you’ve ever traveled hundreds of miles to get a taste of sautéed crab from Maryland, if your bucket list of places is organized by the foods you want to try, or if you simply enjoy food that is authentic to the region in which it is served, you probably merit the title of “foodie.” And you’re not alone; with the advent of food tourism services like Eatwith, Airbnb experiences, and Withlocals, trips to satiate the cuisine-curious are on the rise.
Food tourism goes beyond indulging in a few dishes prepared by expert chefs; people who travel for food do so with the intention of connecting more deeply to the region. The source of the ingredients matters. The way it’s prepared and who’s doing the preparation are also things to consider. Tasting some amazing pasta is nice, but going to Italy and having an Italian nonna teach you how to make homemade tagliatelle while she regales you with tales of her youth is even better.
The term “culinary tourism” can sometimes come off as elitist, but people engaged in this sort of tourism are just as likely to be found queueing up for some street food among hungry locals as they are in 3-star Michelin restaurants with the well heeled. The price of the food isn’t what makes the trip special; it’s about engaging with the locals and their authentic cuisine to become more fully immersed in the place.
Eatwith, a service dedicated to connecting foodies to local providers, offers dining experiences, food tours, and cooking classes that allow those hungering for more than food alone to engage with the culture. Instead of taking a classic walking tour of Athens, why not sample phyllo pies on an evening food tour led by a local Greek? Rather than trying your luck on the first few macarons you see in Paris, how about taking a macaron-making class with a MasterChef and sipping champagne as your creations bake?
Eatwith has over 25,000 hosts in 130 countries, all eager to share their generational knowledge with those interested. If the foodie in you is intrigued, contact me so we can start planning your culinary adventure!
We often bring up wine at Life’s Journey Travel, but not every place you visit is a bustling wine region. However, most places do have a signature cocktail or two, and there’s often a good story that goes along with it. Today, we’re bringing you the backstories of 5 signature cocktails from around the world - plus links to recipes so you can try them out for yourself!
Negroni - Florence, Italy
This is one of the few cocktails whose origin has a documented history. The year is 1919 and Count Camillo Negroni enters a Florentine bar. The Count, a fellow who had traveled to the United States and spent time as a cowboy in the Wild West, orders his favorite cocktail: an Americano. But he asks the bartender to give it more teeth; the man obliges by swapping the Americano’s club soda with a healthy dose of gin. Thus, the Negroni was born.
Caipirinha - Brazil
The zesty Caipirinha has a muddled history. Some people think that it was intended as a remedy to the Spanish flu in the early 20th century--it originally contained cachaça, green lemons, honey, and garlic, instead of sugar. Others say it simply got started in the regions of Santos and São Vicente, because that’s where the first cachaça distilleries were.
Manila Sunshine - Philippines
Like the Singapore Sling, the Manila Sunshine is also a cocktail dreamt up by a hotels seeking to engage more visitors. In conjunction with the Philippines Department of Tourism, the Makati Shangri-La hotel added the Manila Sunshine to its repertoire in the hopes of attracting more foreign visitors. What makes it unique? Its base of lambanog, or coconut wine. Add to that some pineapple and mango juice with some triple sec and rum and you have yourself a taste of the Philippines!
Pimm’s Cup - London, England
Pimm’s Cups also began as a medicinal tonic. James Pimm, owner of a 19th-century oyster bar in London, marketed his new recipe as a drink to improve one’s health. It got so popular that he began selling the drink around the world. It’s still immensely popular, especially at the Wimbledon tournament.
Sazerac - New Orleans, United States
Some say that the Sazerac is America’s first cocktail. That may or may not be true, but what is known is that Antoine Amédée Peychaud, a native to Haiti who landed in Louisiana, created the drink. Peychaud ran a drug store in the Big Easy and offered his clients toddies mixed his own bitters and Sazerac cognac. The rest is history, but it’s now the signature cocktail of New Orleans.
Thinking about making one of these? Let me know how it goes!
What’s In a Full Irish Breakfast?
When I’m on my own and when I’m traveling with a group, some of my favorite parts of the entire experience are getting to sample new foods and taste familiar ones assembled in new ways. And really, who doesn’t love indulging in the experience of food? I plan whole trips around that idea! In preparation for my trip to Ireland with Brendan Vacations, I’ve been doing a little research on the famed full Irish breakfast (AKA “Ulster fry” in Northern Ireland), and I’m here to share my insights.
Author: Debra Harris
As founder of Life’s Journey Travel, I’m deeply passionate about creating custom travel experiences that allow my clients to truly savor the journey.