What would be in a working class Polish lunch from home?
October 17, 2011 9:22 AM   Subscribe

Would you help me pack a Polish working-man's lunch?

What would be a good, simple, but thoughtful romantic lunch packed from home for a guy to eat on a construction site?

What would a 35 year old from Krakow associate with: "Packed lunch from someone who cares"? What would a wife pack for her husband if she were going to meet him at the work site?

I want something that obviously says: "I was thinking about you when I put this together" but not something that is so over the top that it takes a second to process (this is more my style, hence this question).

I will be working with him this Friday and have access to Polish grocery stores and supplies, as well as the regular grocery across the street.

So help me subtly flirt, flatter, and impress while we lean against the parapet.
posted by Tchad to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You don't find a lot of pining for "food that reminds you of home" outside immigrant communities. Granted, my childhood was spent in Soviet Ukraine, not Poland, but my parents and relatives didn't seem to "pack" lunches so much as go home to eat during the break. Alternatively, factory employees could eat at the factory cafeteria. Offices didn't have kitchenettes with refrigerators and microwaves. I suppose, if someone needed to, they'd bring a kielbasa sandwich, or some hard-boiled eggs, or something extremely utilitarian like that. But to be honest, I don't associate kielbasa sandwiches with domestic comfort, I just find them ubiquitous and dull.

In a nutshell, I recommend an appetizing, well-prepared lunch over a "meaningful" one.
posted by Nomyte at 9:33 AM on October 17, 2011

Agreed with Nomyte. I'd go with foods you know he likes, rather than "home cookin'".
posted by LN at 9:35 AM on October 17, 2011

Wieskie kielbasa, crusty rolls, piwo. Mmmmmm!
posted by Meatbomb at 9:36 AM on October 17, 2011

Bigos! (But first find out if he likes it.) That said, 4 out of 5 Polish guys I know feel very strongly about it. I am not joking about the 4:5 figure. Excellent this time of year in a wide-mouth thermos.

If he's not really a bigos kind of guy, or if you have no energy for it, you can make potato dumplings very, very easily. Mix roughly equal parts mashed/baked potato with flour until they will form a dough. Roll the dough into, like, a worm shape. Cut the pieces off 1, 2, 3. Boil them in water until done. Serve with butter, salt, pepper, a little fresh parsley. You can even make it with instant potatoes (yes). Also good for the wide-mouth thermos. Serve them with, perhaps, a mushroom sauce.

If you're going for the bread and sausage approach, also a good one, be sure to throw in some half-sour pickles. (I don't know if they have them in Chicago, so) they are pickles that haven't been left in the brine very long. They are labeled this way in the store and are in the refrigerated section in what resembles a Chinese takeout container.

Poles also eat borscht and stuffed cabbage, like Russians and Jews, but the regional, hell familial, differences are so big that he might think your borscht is completely gross.

Good luck! He's a lucky man!
posted by skbw at 9:58 AM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

My friend from Warsaw tells me you will win his heart with a thermos of wild mushroom soup. Wild mushrooms are deeply revered autumn food in Poland -- it's a super big deal to go out hunting them and then making them into soup with barley and sour cream.
posted by apparently at 9:59 AM on October 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

apparently, not only does that sound delicious, but it also explains the fantastic origin of the nasty present-day mushroom-barley combo. I first encountered it among New York Jews...Lord knows I never dealt with it at home. Thanks for the idea!
posted by skbw at 10:04 AM on October 17, 2011

Funny thing is that I grew up with the/a German version of all of these.

I think that I will settle on wild mushroom soup with a beef or pork base and some hard boiled eggs and rye bread.

I will post back to tell you how it went over.

Thanks, guys.
posted by Tchad at 2:43 PM on October 17, 2011

Wild mushroom soup for the win! Holy moly!
I am not sure I have ever seen someone get that excited about soup!
Thanks for helping me make a good impression, guys.

The recipe I used is really similar to this one (about halfway down the page). I made it more like my mom used to, with barley and a handful of peppercorns.

What a nice morning and afternoon!
posted by Tchad at 2:25 PM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

Wonderful news! Thanks for posting an update...my friend and I just wondered today how your soup had gone over!
posted by apparently at 6:19 PM on November 3, 2011

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