What should you buy in a Polish deli, and what should you make with it?

PUBLISHED: 10:44 12 October 2016 | UPDATED: 10:44 12 October 2016

Jack Monroe; pierogi; chlodnik

Jack Monroe; pierogi; chlodnik

Archant

Jack Monroe shares her Polski sklep shopping list and favourite Polish recipes

The first time I noticed my local Polski Sklep was in 2013, in Southend-on-Sea. I was a local paper journalist, sleeping on a mattress on the floor of a small bedroom that I ate, worked and slept in, with my son occupying the single bed beside me. I already had signed my book deal for A Girl Called Jack, and people assumed I was rolling around in luxury, but in reality, I was sleeping on a floor. I shared that house with three other young women, and one of their mothers, all of them Polish, and all had cleaning jobs in the nearby town centre.

___________

Recipes:

How to make Chlodnik (Polish chilled beetroot soup)

How to make pierogi (stuffed potato dumplings)

___________

We generally kept ourselves to ourselves, but shared the same fridge and kitchen, as is common in houses of multiple occupancy, and it was with great interest that I would watch the girls unload their daily shopping – rolled up poppy seed cakes, jars of pickled everything-imaginable, unfamiliar chocolate bars, rose jam, kabanos sausages, and oh, the pastries. We were a genial bunch, and I was writing a cookbook, so occasionally would trade some Greek potato salad for a bowl of chlodnik or a handful of pierogi, and stepped into a whole new culinary world.

I discovered that pierogi – the little stuffed potato dumplings – are dead simple to make and an excellent vehicle for leftovers that may be too meagre to fashion into another meal. My favourite recipe is by Nigel Slater, and I often make my own when I have a few spoons of curry kicking about, or bolognese, which isn’t strictly traditional but is very good!

My son developed a fairly instant taste for dark chocolate coated gingerbread, and sauerkraut, although not together. We would pop in after nursery school for a Princesa bar or a some krowki, fascinated by handwritten notes pinned everywhere that neither of us could understand, and conversations we could hear and yet know nothing of. I still drop in regularly and wander around, picking up pickles and marvelling at tiny delicate pastries that my huge clumsy hands could never replicate, like a micro-holiday from the predictable homogeny of the supermarket express store.

I taught myself to make sauerkraut that summer, stuffing it into large emptied jars that had previously held baby cucumbers and mustard seeds and dill. Cabbage is cheap, as are salt and vinegar, yet this tangy little condiment is so much more than the sum of its parts. Ditto chlodnik – the chilled beetroot soup – and the much-loved pierogi. In fact I would say that is true of Polish cuisine in general; made of good but widely-available ingredients, simple but not basic, healthy without the side order of smuggery. Peripatetic. Honest. The building blocks of a decent diet.

If you’re curious – and you should be – the Polish cookbook scene is a bright and vivacious one. My favourites include Polska by Zaza Zat, Mamushka by Olia Hercules, and The Art Of Polish Cooking by Alina Zeranska.

You don’t have to find your local Polski Sklep to locate the ingredients either, as many large supermarkets have dedicated areas for varying cuisines nowadays, but I would definitely recommend finding your nearest one and having a firkle around, especially in the wake of post-Brexit smashed windows, graffiti and violent attacks on local independent shops. Stick your head in and show solidarity in sauerkraut, and welcome to a whole new culinary experience.

You've seen the news, now discover the story

The New European is committed to providing in-depth analysis of the Brexit process, its implications and progress as well as celebrating European life.

Try 13 weeks for £13

Support The New European's vital role as a voice for the 48%

The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

  • Become a friend of The New European for a contribution of £48. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish)
  • Become a partner of The New European for a contribution of £240. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish) and receive a New European Branded Pen and Notebook
  • Become a patron of The New European for a contribution of £480. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish) and receive a New European Branded Pen and Notebook and an A3 print of The New European front cover of your choice, signed by Editor Matt Kelly

By proceeding, you agree to the New Europeans supporters club Terms & Conditions which can be found here.



Supporter Options

Mention Me in The New European



If Yes, Name to appear in The New European



Latest Articles

ANTI-BREXIT EVENTS

Grassroots anti-Brexit campaigners are increasing the pressure on politicians ahead of a series of important votes this year. Here is a list of the events organised across Britain in the coming weeks and months.

Trending

Newsletter Sign Up

The New European weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy