Where Is That Tatanka!

One of Krakow’s most well-known citizens is the late Karol Wojtyła, or Pope John Paul II. His presence is still very palpable here…

and I see more priests and nuns making their pilgrimage here than anywhere else outside of the Vatican…

The churches here are open, as in most places (except Bratislava), and sometimes I even happen into a mass,

followed by more random walks around the city:

Here’s the Collegium Maius, the oldest building (circa 15th century) at the University of Krakow:

And here’s how you can tour Krakow if you’re not in the mood to walk. These “golf” carts will stop in front of important buildings or structures and a recording in the language of your choice is played at each stop:

But I’d promised you food yesterday, so let me take you to the Bar Mleczny, which is a sort of cafeteria with traditional Polish food:

There is only a Polish menu,

so I stand there for a very long time, looking around at what others have ordered…

and I know this the chlodnik, a beetroot soup mixed with sour cream, dill and gherkin and served cold–all things I cannot eat:

Luckily an English woman takes pity on me and tries to translate a few things for me from the menu. She tells me she used to be a vegan but found it too difficult to maintain that lifestyle. I tell her I’d really like to give the pierogies a go, even if from her description a lot of them come with cream and other icky dairy substances. But do I let a silly cow get in my way?

I opt for a salty version, which is filled with ground pork. I scrape the meat out but at least the marination from the meat has left the dumpling pouches quite flavorful:

I also try the fruity version, filled with bilberries, and it actually has no taste. Neither sweet nor sour nor salty. I have less luck scraping the cream away though…I know too well what she meant by difficult lifestyle (sigh):

My favorite is actually this side dish with three types of sauerkraut (well, one is carrot and not cabbage):

This lukewarm fruity tea is lovely to photograph and I see it in several places around town,

but it’s the tatanka (apple juice +zubrowka, or bison grass flavored vodka, hence tatanka, which means bison) I’ve been told to try. We’ll see if I find it on this trip.

Anyway, this meal is not too successful for me. I think you’d really have to be a carnivore and dairyvore to appreciate Polish food.

Remember all those pretzels I mentioned yesterday? There are also these pastry-looking things that are sold everywhere, and I suspect they must be delicious because they are relatively expensive compared to the other items:

Now where the heck was that dictionary I asked you to bring? This is no pastry! It’s smoked cheese! With a very, very pungent aroma that seems to seep into my skin. I wash my hands twice and can still smell it. It’s probably because I can’t get rid of the taste in my mouth.

Where is that tatanka! I’m going to need to wash that cheesy aftertaste with one of these…

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