Poland’s first high speed Pendolino train ran for the first time today. It operated a scheduled PKP service between Warsaw and Krakow. Other services will operate between Warsaw, Gdansk, Wrocław, Krakow and Katowice. The train is built by Alstom and in tests prior to it going into official service achieved a speed of 291 km/h (181 mph). I for one can’t wait to travel on it!
Zdzisław Beksiński was a renowned painter, photographer, and sculptor. Beksiński had no formal training as an artist and worked in construction for many years. His paintings were mainly created using oil paint on hardboard panels and his art might in the main best be described as utopian realism / surrealism. He was born in Sanok in 1929 and murdered in Warsaw in 2005.
Here are three examples of Beksinski’s paintings.
To discover more about Zdzislaw Beksinski and see more of his art visit his official website: Beksinski.pl
Related page on Polish Poland: a list of great Polish artists (painters).
The French emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, stopped off and stayed overnight in the town of Meseritz (now Miedzyrzecz) while travelling from Berlin to Posen (Poznan) and then on to Warsaw on 26th November 1806. He stayed at a house owned by a cloth merchant named Johann Jacob Volmer. The house in which he stayed was located close to the town hall in the market square and was long known as ‘Napoleon’s House’ (Napoleonhaus). Unfortunately, for reasons unknown the house was demolished after the Second World War.
Legend has it that a failed assassination attempt on Napoleon took place while he was in the town!
Related content on Polish Poland: More old images of Meseritz (Miedzyrzecz).
Kasza (Groats, Buckwheat, Kasha) is a ‘cereal’ eaten chiefly in Poland and other parts of Central and Eastern Europe. It was for many years a staple of the Polish diet but since the fall of communism there has been a fairly dramatic fall in the amount of kasza consumed by the average Pole. Kasza is cooked in much the same way as rice and can be used as an interesting substitute for rice as an ingredient in dishes like Golabki (stuffed cabbage rolls) or with saucy dishes such as curry. Some people also eat Kasza as a breakfast porridge instead of the more usual western-European porridge made with oats.
Some things you may not know about Kasza:
- Kasza is rich in flavanoids (antioxidants).
- Kasza is high in fibre, magnesium, manganese, and other nutrients.
- Kasza is related to rhubarb and sorrel.
- Its flowers are very fragrant and most attractive to bees.
- Kasza is naturally gluten free.
- The Polish for Buckwheat Groats is kasza gryczana.
Most Poles – in common with many continental Europeans - adore the taste of wild mushrooms and because of this many will spend a lot of the spare time wandering around the forest of Poland during late Summer and Autumn / Fall seasons looking chiefly for Chanterelle (pieprznik / kurka), Podgrzybek (bay bolete) Mushrooms, and Borowik (boletus / porcini) mushrooms. Many of the Chanterelles they find will be eaten fresh but probably most of the Podgrzybek and Porcini mushrooms will be dried for use later in the year. Once dried wild mushrooms are stored in a in an airtight container and can safely be kept for around 12 months.
Dried mushrooms should always be before re-hydrated before use and not just added to a recipe. This is how we rehydrate our dried mushrooms …
- Boil some water and add to a bowl.
- When the water has cooled down slightly, add some dried mushrooms to the water. The water should be hot but not at boiling temperature.
- Remember that dried mushrooms increase in volume around 3 to 4 times after they have been soaked, so don’t soak more than you need. 100 grams of dried mushrooms will yield between 300 grams and 400 grams of mushrooms once they have been rehydrated.
- Soak the mushrooms for a minimum of 30 minutes. Better still, overnight if you have the time.
- Drain from the water and use the mushrooms in your recipe.
- The water will have a wonderful mushroom favour and can also be used in recipes. If you do use this broth be sure to strain it first to remove any sand, grit or earth!
Related content on Polish Poland: our delicious recipe for mushroom sauce.
Independence Day is a national day in Poland celebrated on the 11th November each year to commemorate the anniversary of the restoration of a Polish state in 1918 after 123 years of partition by the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and the Habsburg Empire. It is a national holiday in Poland. Buildings and streets throughout the country will have Polish flags flying. Polish television and radio broadcast patriotic films and songs. And parades and events take place in many towns and cities.
As the date also marks the end of fighting in the First World War, Poland’s Independence Day falls at the same time as Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, or Veteran’s Day, celebrated by other countries.
A selection of images of pre-1945 Lissa / Leszno, Poland. Click on any image to enlarge.
Lissa into Leszno into Lissa into Leszno
From 1793 the town was part of the Posen province of Prussia and named Lissa. Following the end of the First World War and the Treaty of Versailles the town became part of Poland and renamed Leszno. In the 1939 the town was annexed by Germany and incorporated into the Reichsgau Wartheland, and once again named Lissa. After the defeat of Germany in the Second World War the town returned to Poland and the name Leszno used once again.
Three things you might not know about Leszno:
- In the census of 1905, 79% of the population of Lissa stated that they were German.
- In a similar survey in 1939, 89% of the population of Leszno stated that they were Polish.
- Leszno has one of the largest and best preserved synagogues in the Wielkopolska Region of Poland.
Related content on Polish Poland: Images of Leszno in the 1970s.
Edward Rydz-Smigly (Rydz-Śmigły) was a Polish army officer and politician; who on the death of Joseph Piłsudski, became Marshal of Poland and Commander-in-Chief of Poland’s armed forces / General Inspector of the Armed Forces. Rydz was in charge of the Polish army during the Invasion of Poland in 1939. He died of heart failure in Warsaw in December 1941 and is buried at Powazki Cemetery.
Related content on Polish Poland; Marshall Pilsudski.
Contrary to what we’ve noticed reported elsewhere Halloween (All Hallows’ Evening) is most definitely celebrated in Poland! It is a fairly recently arrived tradition but is celebrated by children and parents throughout Poland – from the smallest village to the largest city. Pumpkins are carved into jack-o-lanterns; children dress up as witches, Dracula, and scary pirates; and Halloween costume parties complete with apple-bobbing and similar party activities are put on. Indeed, apart from the rarely seen trick-or-treating activity, Halloween in Poland is becoming much the same as Halloween in western Europe or America.
Halloween is though not to be confused with the more important and traditionally Polish All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.