During my travels through Eastern Europe ten years ago, I found myself having a fairly random conversation with some fellow-backpackers in a hostel kitchen in Warsaw. We were sampling a bottle of the local vodka which someone had bought in a nearby shop, and when the subject of food came up one of the Americans said she was excited to be in Poland because she really wanted to see if Polish pierogis were as good as the ones back home. My reply, something along the lines of ‘what are pierogis?’, met with disbelief from the (mainly) North American contingent who were most surprised to meet someone who had never heard of them!
Back then, of course, Polish cuisine in Britain was little known outside the Polish community, but a decade later things have changed to the point where you can get pierogis in supermarkets and at street-food stalls as well as in Polish shops and restaurants.
My first article for the London foodie magazine Jellied Eel is about how pierogis are making themselves known in the capital – it has origins in a piece I wrote for The Archer last year about a lady in East Finchley who provided home-made pierogis for a local Polish deli (she now supplies them to the ever-superb Tony’s Continental).
Also of a Polish theme is my latest piece for Londonist, ‘Where To Find Bits of Poland In London’, which explores London’s historical links with Poland – including the wartime Free Poles, Chopin and the story behind how Poland Street got its name.