Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Polish is still not good enough...

I'd like to share a short, hopefully entertaining, story about how my roommate Paige and I tried to order pizza.

See, we were hungry but lacked motivation to go out and get food. So what's the American way? For someone to bring food to us. Feeling ambitious and quite brave, Paige called a pizza delivery service. In this brief conversation of Poleng (polish and english) she successfully ordered a pizza.... or so we thought. Two hours later... still no pizza.

Not feeling brave or ambitious, but rather under Paige's influence and guilt tripping I called back. We were planning on ordering a new pizza, under a new number, because trying to locate our original order was a lost a cause. So, when someone answered the phone, I did my best to order in Polish. What was the result? They hung up on me.

Distraught and starving, we were running out of options. Brave the cold? Call a different pizza place? Finally, after serious damage to our self-esteem, our friend Salma called. Mind you, she lives on the other side of the city. When she called, they kindly put someone on the phone who spoke english. Clearly, pizza places hate me and Paige.

An hour later well more like 3 hours later, the pizza arrived. We gave the delivery guy a 5 zloty tip. He was beyond grateful. Oh kind sir, if you only knew.

Suffice it to say, we devoured our pizza. I think it was delicious?

On a completely different note...

Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku! Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Uczę się języka polskiego.

Minus the dreary clouds, cold weather and darkness creeping in at ridiculous hours, I do love Poland. Learning the language is proving to be more challenging than previously thought, however, I am relishing in the fun of it as much as I can.

Today I share with you some of my favorite words/phrases.

1. Książka: noun. (Kih-sean-shka... this is best phonetical pronunciation I have for you) It means "book." As is in, "Lubię czytam książkę. I like to read book." I realize the vocab word is spelled differently than the word in my sentence, but, as previously mentioned Polish is a grammar party, so the ending changes for the noun because of what I'm saying and which verb I'm using. And yes, I mean book, not books, because if it were plural, then there would be another ending. "Lubię czytam książki. I like to read books."

2. Skręcić: verb. (Skren-cheech) To turn. "Skręcić w lewo. Turn left." I just like the way it sounds.

3. Jestem głodna jak wilk. (Yestem gwo-d-na yak veelk) "I am hungry like wolf." Its an expression used the same way we use "I'm so hungry I could eat a cow." By the way, if you are a man saying this, you say "Jestem głodny jak wilk." Instead of saying głodna (gwo-d-na) you say głodny (gwo-d-neh.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Polish Christmas Tradition

Poles are very Catholic. Poles love Christmas. Poles have many traditions. My family, identifying partly with our Polish heritage, partake in a few of these traditions, mostly those relating to Christmas Eve. My family always breaks the Opłatek, a communion like wafer symbolizing the importance of family, God and friends. We also eat keep our Christmas Eve meal meatless, indulging in pierogie... many pierogie because as previous learned, you can never just have one. This delicious carbohydrate masterpiece is accompanied with fish, although not the traditional carp. (I think we stick to flounder or some other white fish.)
The traditional eating of carp is one of the newest discoveries I made here in Poland. In fact, it is quite amusing. Carp is a dirty fish, living and swimming in deep, murky, dirty, muddy water. In order to enjoy this fish, it must be cleaned thoroughly, however, a good scrub just is not enough. One way poles clean this fish is by buying it live, a few days before Christmas Eve and keeping in a bucket of clean water.... or a bathtub. Yes, a bathtub. Apparently it is a running joke that children smell before Christmas Eve because keeping the carp in the tub takes precedence over cleanliness.
A recent article posted on Polskie Radio discusses the recent animal cruelty campaign for carps. Poles are now being encouraged to buy carp on ice, claiming the treatment prior to its inevitable fate is cruel. Animal rights activists in Poland pressed hard for the fishes rights, that it now has to be treated like any other vertebrate animal. Read the article here.
Oh Poland. You and your interesting ways. I love them, even if I'll never understand them all. Especially those pertaining to your inability to provide change. No... no I do not have pięćdziesiąt siedem groszy. (57 groszy)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Wesołych Świąt

The daily hustle and bustle of Krakow grew these past few weeks no doubt because of the Christmas Market. This festive, delightful, if touristy, attraction lights up the city square each
night with stands full of beautiful ornaments and traditional Polish presents ranging from red beads to honey. One, of course, cannot escape the stands selling delicious delicacies. Kiełbasa, pierogie, and kebabs fill the cold air with their hearty aroma, as well satiating that sudden need for Polish food that appears like magic.

After serious gift shopping for friends and family, (or yourself) those frozen hands, busy sifting through great deals, need to be warmed. So when those newly bought wool gloves just aren't cutting it, there’s always Grzaniec Galicyjski (try to pronounce that one, I dare you.) This delicious, sweet, hot mulled wine is the perfect addition to your sudden indulgence in Christmas spirit. It warms both hands and soul.

The market is full of different characters from all walks of life. While this might be where one hears English spoken more than any other place in Poland, native Poles can also be found, slowly preparing for the biggest holiday in the country. I’ve weaved in and out of the crowds almost every day since it opened in the beginning of December.

My favorite time to go is at night, when the entire market is lit with tinkling lights. Even the small streets leading the center, glow with icicle blue lights and wreaths. Couples holding hands, children running around with their families, and friends laughing over a cup of Grzaniec Galicyjski contribute to the fantasy of Kraków. The horse-drawn carriages only heighten the romantic atmosphere with its occupants closely huddled under blankets for warmth.

A friend and I found ourselves in grumpy moods one evening, having no real desire to do anything but to curl up in a ball and go to sleep. On our way through the city after eating dinner, we were drawn to the market because of the festive music playing and after an hour, we left the market with smiles on our faces and presents in our hands. Christmas is a magical time of year, and while it may make me an unrealistic romantic, I adore it. I can’t wait to be with my family, enjoying champagne and brownies for breakfast.