Sunday, March 23, 2008

Polska Wielkanoc (Polish Easter)

We returned to New York and headed directly to my Mom’s house for an Easter celebration with traditional Polish food served at the family meal. Easter is one my favorite holidays – the arrival of spring is just weeks away, crocus & daffodils are peaking their blooms in defiance of the cold weather, and the happy anticipation of Easter dinner with family surrounds the holiday.

Mom’s menu includes:
kiełbasa (Polish Sausages), pierogi (dumplings filled with sauerkraut or potatoes and cheese), kapusta (sauerkraut), borscht (soup), chrzan z buraczkami (traditional condiment of horseradish and beets), good rye bread and for dessert babka, & makowiec (poppy seed cake).

Polish food is hearty fare, old-fashioned comfort food from the old country. Mom shops at a Polish specialty store called Adams Food Market in Wallington, NJ. One year I had the wonderful opportunity to go with her and the market was packed with shoppers, garlicky kiełbasas scented the air, freshly-made pierogis were stacked high in their packages, and round loves of babka filled the market. Robust Polish-speaking women behind the counters calling out to the patrons, Mom responds in Polish ordering everything for our special meal. I know a few key words in Polish mostly the names of foods and a few Polish reprimands.

This time of year gives me a sense of renewal and reinforces the importance of food in tradition and family gatherings that evoke fond and lasting memories around the Polish foods I’ve grown up with and long for year after year.

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