Polish food is known as hearty (not necessarily healthy tho!), simple and comforting. Starters are amazing: quick, simple, small so you can try them all! The traditional polish party has at least 3-4 snacks from that list. What is more important, they’re combining well with polish vodka as they are fatty and satisfying!

Check the “Must Try” of polish starters for every erasmus foodie!

1. Ogórki kiszone (pickled sour cucumbers)

Prepare yourself, is not a pickled cucumber you know so it will be a taste revolution! They are made by ageing the cucumbers in salted water with dill, garlic, pepper, bay leaves, oak leaves, black currant leaves and cherry leaves. That process gave them extraordinary and unique saur’ish flavour. Usually served with a shot of vodka or as a starter in the restaurant together with “smalec”.

2. Smalec ( lard)

Let’s face it, it can be a bit extreme to some people but is one of the most popular polish dishes. And to be honest, it’s amazing! What is it exactly? How is made? It’s melted pig’s fat with crispy pig’s skin (there is also a version with meat!), crispy onions and seasoning. It’s actually the same part which bacon is consisted of but firstly melted and seasoned properly. Served with bread and kiszone ogórki. When you will go to polish style “karczma” (tavern) most probably what you will have listed as started or free snack before the main food arrives.

3. Śledzie (herrings)

Herring is a fish we love deeply and mostly when we’re drunk. Poles eat A LOT of it. Herring in oil, pickled herring, salted herring, herring in sour cream, herring roll-ups, herring in onions, herring salad… you get the point.

There are two the most traditional ways to prepare them:

  • with sour cream and pickled onions
  • with oil and garlic
Herring in sour cream

You’re already thinking that this combination can’t work (perhaps only is not weird to Nordic countries that have a similar dish in their menus), but if you like fish – trust me – you gonna love it!

4. Kiełbasa (polish sausage)

Let’s be honest, there are so many types of sausages in Poland that you may not manage to try all of them even if you really try. Traditionally kiełbasa is made of pork, beef but also other kinds of meat from turkey to bison. We recommend you 3 most popular types of kiełbasa:

  • kiełbasa wiejska (farmer’s sausage) – with strong garlic and herb flavour, rich in taste.
  • kiełbasa krakowska (Cracow’s sausage) – Cracow’s speciality, dry with light garlic and pepper seasoning, mostly eaten as cold cuts, sliced finely.
  • Kabanosy – a thin, dry sausage flavoured with caraway seed.

5. Grilled oscypek with żurawina (sheep smoked cheese with cranberry sauce)

Oscypek is a traditional smoked cheese made of salted sheep milk. It’s made in Polish mountains but nowadays it can be bought in big supermarkets just about anywhere in Poland. It’s chewy, cheesy and a bit sweet because of cranberry sauce. Can be served wrapped with bacon. Totally must eat!

6. Tatar

If you don’t like raw beef maybe skip this one because we have another controversial dish. Tatar is served as an appetizer in many restaurants and vodka bars. It’s made up of all ingredients that are required to make a hamburger, except they are all served raw and unmixed. Upon ordering tatar you receive a small pile of raw ground beef with an egg cracked upon it. Next to it, you will find raw onion, pickles, spices and dill and o course some bread. What is so special about it? Beef is finely chopped which intensifies its flavour, combined with pickles and onion gives an unforgettable experience.

9. Kaszanka (polish black pudding)

The Polish variation of blood sausage, in this case, pig’s blood mixed with groats and is generally served fried with onions and bread. Though sold in sausage casings, this is not a form of kiełbasa, as any Pole will emphatically tell you. In many food fairs, you’ll see giant pans of steamy kaszanka out of their casings (which are not meant to be eaten) being fried and stirred.

10. Twaróg ze szczypiorkiem (cottage cheese with spring onion)

Last but not least!
Fresh, creamy with a secret ingredient of spring onion, this Polish speciality will change the way you see the white cheese forever. It is great for breakfast, especially when served with fresh Polish bread and add some radish to it!

Hungry? Let’s eat some polish food now!