Poland sets a dining-out trend with mini snacks
Carefully, Roman Modzelewski fills up a row of shot glasses with cherry drink.
The patrons in his Warsaw tavern cheerily grab the “kieliszki” — the shot glasses. The dark red liquid is surprisingly sweet.
A waiter in an elegant white shirt and black bow tie goes around handing out traditional local snacks.
These are Poland’s version of Spain’s tapas, tiny tasty tidbits called “przekaski.”
These hor d’oeuvres are in the midst of a revival that may be a hallmark of 21st-century style of dining out: tiny portions in a convivial setting.
Przekaski are not as haute cuisine as many of their Spanish counterparts, and the accompanying drinks are a great deal stronger.
“I absolutely must have a tartar!” a young woman exclaims as soon as she has taken a seat in the Przekaski u Romana tavern.
Quickly, Roman — in Poland, the honorific is always combined with a person’s first name — rushes forward with some chopped beef sirloin with a raw egg covering it.
Up and down, the 62-year-old tavern keeper is dealing out other canapes to hungry patrons.
Salted pickles, pickled herrings and pierogi, or Polish-style dumplings stuffed with cabbage and mushrooms.
These snacks used to rate as poor peoples’ food, but are being rediscovered by the more affluent.
Usually served with hard liquid, they can also be enjoyed with tea or coffee.
After World War II, this simple peasant fare became a characteristic feature of Poland’s taverns.
In the beginning, low-paid labourers ate uch snacks, these being the only things they could afford.
Nowadays, fast service and low prices make them a hit with young and old alike.
Many are open around-the-clock, something that attracts Warsaw’s night-time crowd and that is starting to pull in tourists too.
On a recent Saturday evening, the przekaski bar Meta, near Warsaw’s main Nowy Swiat boulevard, was packed.
A group of young people were crowded around a table, and a woman in the group explained, “Our evenings either begin or end here.” Her companion adds, “These bars are also good for in-between eating.”
In such taverns people not only eat and drink, Roman notes. “Sometimes the guests will dance,” he says of the nights. During the daytime things are quieter — tourists study their travel guides while eating a pierogi, as Warsaw shoppers stop in to warm up with a cup of tea.
Not only the food, but also the decor and atmosphere of the taverns are genuinely Polish.
In Roman’s tavern, one wall is covered with a giant photo of the Stalin-era Palace of Culture.
In the Meta bar, objects from the communist era decorate the premises.
“Young people like it because they themselves did not experience those times,” says one woman guest.” — dpa