Shop, Find Traditional Recipes, Read About History and CultureBuy Polish Food online from igourmet.com! Please visit our online store and go shopping at the number one imported food delivery service in the USA. Polish Food is a cuisine that is traditionally based on the consumption of meat (particularly pork), winter vegetables and heavily spiced foods. As early as 900 AD, the Roman Catholic influence was felt in Polish Food when fasting was enforced, greatly affecting the Polish diet. Since meat was restricted, meatless meals and fish found their way into traditional Polish dishes. In the Middle Ages, Polish Food relied heavily on grains such as millet, rye and wheat, berries, herbs and spices. Beer and mead (a drink made by fermenting a solution of honey and water) were common accompaniments to a traditionally highly caloric meal. Cereals and flatbreads were typically eaten by commoners. Meat and groats (hulled grains such as oats, barley, buckwheat or wheat) were also prevalent foods during these times. Poland enjoyed good trade relations with Asia, so the prices for spices were often lower than in other countries. Spices such as pepper, nutmeg, and juniper were used in large amounts in medieval Polish Foods. The large areas of forests in Poland provided berries, nuts, wild honey and mushrooms. In addition, due to the cold winters, the Polish found ways to preserve fruit, fish and vegetables such as peas, broad beans and turnips through drying, pickling or fermenting.
During the Renaissance years, influences from Italy were seen in Poland when Italian Queen Bona Sforza became the second wife to Sigismund I of Poland in 1518. Italian chefs migrated to Poland, and soon, foods such as cabbage, lettuce and leeks were more widely used. Being one of the largest countries in the world up until the Partitions (territorial divisions) in the latter half of the 18th century, Poland and its cuisine was influenced by its many regions. Foods from countries such as Lithuania, Armenia, Hungary, Ukraine, Austria, Germany, Russia, Turkey, Italy and France all became a part of traditional Polish Foods. Hungarian goulash, Ukrainian borscht and pastries from France are just a few examples of the dishes that have become well established in Poland.
After World War II, Communist occupation ensured that any restaurants that remained in the 1940s and 1950s were state owned. Inexpensive meals prevailed such as soups, pork chops, potato pancakes, potato gnocchi and pierogis in addition to meat cutlets and potatoes or other vegetables. Meat, chocolate, sugar and other products were rationed due to a shortage economy and imports were restricted, leaving only domestic winter fruit and vegetables available during most of the year. Traditional Polish meals were mostly reserved for the Christmas Eve feast, which called for the preparation of 12 traditional Polish dishes. Communism ended in Poland in 1989, and as a result, many foods became available again, new restaurants opened and traditional Polish cuisine returned along with other modern influences such as fast food. Previously only available in coastal regions, many varieties of fish became more commonly available as well as vegetables and other fresh foods.
Polish Bread Bread has held an important place in Polish cuisine, and has had religious importance as far back as ancient times. Traditionally, a loaf of freshly baked Polish Bread was marked on top with the sign of the cross, while newlyweds and important guests were greeted at the entrance of homes with bread and salt. Polish Bread is also blessed during holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Today wheat and/or rye are the main ingredients in Polish Breads. Supplemental ingredients are also found in Polish Breads such as onion, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, raisins, prunes or lard.