There is everything in Krakow shops nowadays, even if it may
happen that your favorite artichoke variety is not to be found
at every street-corner grocer’s. Poland being one of European
major food producers, local staples generally hold their ground
against imports. Yet the latter have largely taken to themselves
the up-market niches.
Look for the output of a family-owned bakery. Some are
in the business for the third generation or more. A few of them
run their own baker’s shop – they happen in the downtown area
too – while the rest mostly supply smaller grocers throughout
Potatoes are Poland’s staple food alongside the bread.
Cabbage, carrots, beans, and onions are other native vegetables
popular round-the-year. Polish field tomatoes,
cauliflower, lettuce, cucumbers, leeks, etc. are delicious yet
seasonal. For the rest of the year vegetables are available
owing to greenhouses and imports from the Mediterranean but it
is not the same. Best produce usually can be found at any of
Krakow’s several marketplaces. But the exotic likes of yams and
cassava are easier to come by in a supermarket.
The southern half of Poland, with Krakow as its capital city, is
the Western Europe’s major supplier of fruits – apples, plums,
pears, cherries, etc., and berries – strawberries, currants,
gooseberries, raspberries, etc. Yet the juiciest and tastiest
varieties tend to be unfit for the long-haul shipping, and they
are meant for the local market. Krakow dwellers also prize much
such forest crops as wild raspberries, blackberries, hazelnuts,
and above all – bilberries. The city’s marketplaces offer the
best choice, yet inexperienced customers may fail to spot
inferior merchandise. Imported apples, pears, etc. as well as
the fruits of hotter climes are also widely available, albeit
those most exotic are sold chiefly in hypermarkets.
Dairy Products. Most Poles relish milk goods churned
out by the country’s dairy producers. And those wealthier often
opt for a French or an Italian cheese twice the price of the
domestic equivalent. Yet some argue with good reason that there
is nothing like milk and homemade cottage cheese, butter, and
cream fresh from the farm. They are still available at Krakow
marketplaces, sometimes sold directly by peasant women. Among
local specialties rank the “bryndza” cottage cheese and
the “oscypek” hard cheese, the originals made of ewe milk.
Poultry, namely chicken and turkey, seems most popular
with Krakow consumers nowadays, before beef and pork. Veal also
has its admirers. Yet game is largely a dine-out stuff. Lamb and
mutton are also found mostly in restaurants, and few native
gourmands relish them. The Krakow butcher’s shops - few
nowadays - sell local
produce, while supermarkets may well offer meat processed in the
other half of Poland or even abroad.
Meat Products. Poland is famed worldwide as the country
of origin of kielbasa. Yet the word denotes all sausages here.
As typically Polish are recognized the spicy ones, smoked and
then dried (try the finger-thin “kabanos”!).
Unfortunately, Polish ham
isn't as delicious as it used to be. Such domestic specialties as the “salceson”
headcheese, the “kiszka” black pudding, and the “pasztetowa”
liverwurst are recognized delicacies but it's hard to find good
quality. And – surprise, surprise –
at the same time the sausages and ham made of poultry (yes!) in
the Krakow region have become very popular throughout Poland
after their invention in the 1990s.
Fish are quite popular, also freshwater ones. And carp
seems as much a Christmas Eve must in Poland as turkey is a
Thanksgiving one in the USA, while herring serves as a
traditional fast-days meal. Shellfish are available in Krakow’s
shops but hardly a great treat for most its inhabitants.
Poles are great connoisseurs of wild fungi of which
edible boletus varieties are most sought after. Fresh mushrooms
are available at Krakow marketplaces in summer and autumn, whereas
dried or pickled ones throughout the year.
Eating the Krakow Way
It is hearty indeed.
Krakow is Poland’s mecca of gourmets thanks to its
many excellent restaurants.
Krupnik Barley Soup, Christmas Borsch, Krakow
Duck, Zrazy Beef Rashers
Food Festivals in Krakow
Shopping in Krakow
Everybody’s thirst to be satisfied.