While the emperor ate his pancake bits, on the other side of the tracks, the peasants were tossing together cabbage and bacon.
We’ll get into this “Peasant’s Meal” momentarily. First, Mr. N wanted me to thank you for your comments. He had a great time writing the post for Austrian Kaiserschmarrn. He’s come a long way in his blogging skills since his first post, and he is indeed a master story-teller. You’ll definitely see more posts from both he and Miss A while we’re roaming Europe.
We’re planning a series of “through the eyes of” posts that will serve as pictorial essays from our young explorers. I can’t wait to see them. It’s always so interesting what you can learn through someone else’s lens, particularly children as they have such a different perspective on the world, both physically and perceptively. Not to mention pictures are a great way to not only tell stories, but preserve memories – their own memories, not just mine. If the pictures above, from last year’s trip to Paris, are any indication, there will be some interesting shots!
Can you believe we’re now eleven weeks and counting to our departure! We’re making progress on our extensive to do list. We have an appointment to obtain our Visas and have secured travel medical insurance. We’ve also cleaned (and purged) at least half the rooms and closets in the house in preparation of my cousin’s arrival (he’ll be living here while we’re away). Things are coming along.
In the next few weeks, we’ll be securing accommodation on the Amalfi Coast for a week in July – recommendations welcome – as well as our first days of the trip in Madrid or Segovia, and also, hopefully securing our car. Not to mention, we will be cleaning the rest of the house, garage and yard. Planning the trip is much more fun than cleaning the house!
Obvious thrills, anticipation and excitement aside, a trip of this magnitude also brings some worries, doubts and fears. Most of the time, it’s normal nerves, but nighttime is ripe with irrational thinking. I can’t tell you the number of nights I have laid awake in bed at three in the morning worrying about things like, “What if one of us gets sick or hurt while we’re away?” “What will it be like to not be around anything familiar for seven months?” “How stressful will it be not speaking the native language?” “What if our car breaks down in the middle of nowhere?” “Will our cats be sad or stressed with our sudden disappearance from their lives?” “Will everything be okay at the house and with the cats?” “Will the kids adapt to life on the road?” “What if something happens to someone in the family while we’re away?” “Will we be able to self-educate the kids enough to keep them up with their classmates?” The thoughts are endless.
It’s a big change, particularly for the kids who tend to thrive on routine. And they have worries too. “Will our friends forget us?” “Will the cats be okay?” “What if something happens to one of them?” “What toys can we bring?” “What do you mean I can’t pack a suitcase full of stuffed animals?” “How can we talk to our friends?” “Where will we be on our birthdays?” “Will Poland have pizza?” Granted their worries differ in scope from mine, but they are no less real.
It’s times like these, when our lives are so busy and full, and we have so much to prepare for, that it’s easy to get lost from one another and ourselves. It’s easy to feel emotionally overwhelmed, even flooded. Fortunately we’ve been down this road before and we have some tricks up our sleeves to help us navigate our way through (although sometimes we have to remind ourselves of these tricks). First on the list is talking, checking in with everyone, and empathizing with each others’ concerns. It’s a way to know we’re not alone.
We also make sure to watch travel shows, look at books and share pictures with the kids to help them conceptualize where we’re going. They can also pick places they might want to visit on our travels. While Miss A is all about architecture and aesthetics, Mr. N is totally focused on history and myths. This personal involvement in the planning helps to give them some control in a situation, which to them, feels out of their control. Miss A’s school also began to offer a Polish club this year, so she and a few of her best buddies are taking it together. They’re learning language, songs and trying Polish foods. It’s a shared experience that will undoubtedly help them remain connected while we’re away.
Another tactic we use to manage our anxieties is regular exercise. It’s a must. No matter how busy we are, we have to find time for this – even if it’s 20 minutes a day. The kids too! It makes a big difference in everyone’s abilities to process thoughts and feelings. And of course we have to add play! Everyone needs time to play. It allows us to step outside of the rigors of planning, and while it’s not always easy for me to do when I’m focused, afterward I feel refreshed and ready to tackle anything.
Then there are the days when despite our best efforts, we’re tired, emotional and spent. This is where comfort food plays a role. Being the foodies we are, we turn to the kitchen and prepare a favorite meal. Sometimes all four of us eat something different! We call those the “whatever you want (within reason) days.” We have several go to meals – pizza, sushi, lasagna (any form of pasta really), sausage & beans, breakfast for dinner, or sometimes, just fresh bread with dips or spreads.
So this month, on one such comfort food required type of days, we decided to explore some Polish options. Afterall, it might be handy to have a few of those up our sleeves. Fortunately Poland has plenty of options, a few of which we tried in years past, like pierogis, a pierogi casserole and paczkis. This time, however, we wanted to try and find a carb-free comfort option because if we live off pierogis in Poland, and no doubt we could, we’ll be in trouble even with our regular exercise!
Fortunately we found Chłopski Posiłek, literally translated as a peasant’s meal. It’s main ingredients include cabbage and bacon, with many versions also featuring Polish sausage. A popular dish, the recipes are as varied as it gets. Each village and family has a different spin on the ingredients and preparation. For our version we went with a combination of onions, leek, garlic, bacon, fresh Polish sausage and cabbage. We also used white wine, juniper berries, caraway and capers.
Mr. N helped me prepare the meal. He particularly like removing the sausage from the casings. He thought that was fabulous, gross work! He also loved sampling the bacon, after all, the chef has to taste test as he cooks! (I also knew he’d be much more willing to try a cabbage based meal if he had a hand in it.)
I’ll confess, I too, have never been a big fan of cabbage. I remember I always dreaded the traditional corn beef and cabbage served on St. Patrick’s Day and since then I’ve never so much as bought a head of it! After this meal, however, I may have to reconsider corn beef and cabbage because this was delicious!
It’s sour, salty, soft and crunchy. It was definitely a bowl of comfort food. This could easily be served over egg noodles or rice, or perhaps even served as the filling for a pot-pie or quiche. (See there I go again with the carbs….) We chose to eat ours standalone with a slice of bread. It was a quick and easy meal to prepare and the flavors of the bacon, sausage and cabbage all play very well together. Despite my presumed distaste of cabbage, I ended up giving this dish 4 spoons. I think I know my go to comfort dish in Poland!
Print this recipe: Chłopski Posiłek – Polish Peasant’s Meal
Unfortunately no one else shared my strong affinity for the dish. Mike did think it was a solid meal with good flavors and gave it 3 spoons, and the kids didn’t hate it. It rang in at 2-1/2 spoons for each of them, which leads me to believe they’d eat it again. In other words, this dish will more than likely be back on our table here and in Poland! Based on our brief jump into Polish cuisine, I don’t think we’ll be finding ourselves hungry or unsatisfied while we’re away. Needing more exercise is likely though!
Now, I know despite the inevitable challenges we’ll have on the trip, we’ll figure it out and all this planning, cleaning and prepping will be more than worth it. We won’t let our worries and fears consume us or keep us from going. In many ways it reminds me of when Mike and I were first married and we moved to Phoenix, away from family and friends, and everything either of us ever knew (that’s a story in and of itself!). I had similar worries and we certainly had our share of struggles, but we also made some wonderful memories and friends. Not to mention with only each other to rely on, we had no choice but to figure it out together. We both look back at that time as an amazing experience that shaped us in ways we never expected. No doubt this will too. Now, if only I could convince myself of this in the middle of the night…
Until next time, a brief reminder that the giveaway closes tomorrow evening. For all you procrastinators out there, this is it! We’ll announce the winner in our post early next week. Here’s to a happy weekend for you all! May no comfort food be needed, but if it is, this bowl of meaty goodness is a great place to start! Do zobaczenia!