Obwarzanek, maczanka krakowska, pischinger and cholent are only a few from a long list of dishes and specialties worth trying in Kraków, a city full of flavours and aromas that will take you back in time.
In 1846, Kraków, and more precisely the Grand Duchy of Kraków, was incorporated into the Austrian partition. The Habsburg Empire changed not only the geopolitical situation, but also the culinary art of Małopolska. Viennese influences, combined with traditional Polish, Ukrainian and Jewish dishes, created an original and extremely diverse cuisine of Galicia, where lovers of both sweet and spicy flavors will find something for themselves.
The symbol of Kraków
Lisbon is famous for its pudding pastéis de nata muffins, Barcelona for Crema catalana, Berlin for pork sausages generously sprinkled with curry, and Kraków for obwarzanka. This dry yeast baked good is easy to recognize. It has an oval shape and a light golden or light brown colour, with an appetizing gloss. Additions, including coarse salt, poppy seeds, sesame, black cumin and spice mixtures, give it a distinctive taste. It is worth remembering that you can try this regional specialty only in the capital of Małopolska and in two poviats – Kraków and Wieliczka. However, in Kraków you can buy it everywhere. Characteristic bread carts can be found not only in the historic centre, but also parks, near stations and stops or squares.
Sweet influence of Austria
In 1846, Kraków, and more precisely the Grand Duchy of Kraków, was incorporated into the Austrian partition. The Habsburg Empire changed not only the geopolitical situation, but also the culinary art of Małopolska. A great example of Austrian influence is pischinger, i.e. a crispy wafer with chocolate-nut cream and chocolate frosting. This simple dessert was invented by the Viennese confectioner Oscar Pischinger in the 1880s. The menu of some restaurants still includes Viennese-style eggs – soft-boiled, peeled and served in a pre-warmed glass, Viennese schnitzel – breaded veal cutlet fried in butter and served with a lemon slice, and Viennese cheesecake – characterized by a dough without a crispy bottom.
Even more sweets
Kraków is also a city of chocolate and sweets. It was here that in 1898 one of the oldest confectionery factories in Poland was established. Currently, Wawel SA produces sweets known throughout Poland, including Danusia bar, kasztanki and tiki-taki chocolates, or kukułka caramels. In addition to a thriving enterprise, the city has numerous confectioneries and cafés. You must try napoleonka cake, in Kraków rather known as ‘kremówka’. The cake is a combination of sheets of puff pastry with a thick layer of whipped cream and custard cream in-between. The top is sprinkled with powdered sugar or icing.
The south of Małopolska and Kraków, after being incorporated into the Austrian partition, belonged to the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, in short called Galicia. This historic region was famous for its great Galician cuisine, which was a combination of Ukrainian, Austro-Hungarian, Polish and Jewish culinary traditions. If you want to get to know the last one and at the same time travel in time, visit the one-of-a-kind Kazimierz. This district is full of atmospheric cafés, restaurants and pubs. There, you can try kalahora garlic soup, cholent – a stew with beans and groats, which can be considered one of the most classic dishes of Jewish cuisine, bagels, Jewish caviar – chopped liver with egg, and gefilte fish – a sweet version of carp.
Variations on the theme of burger
Maczanka will surprise and surely delight meat lovers, as its main ingredient is pork neck, which is first soaked in marinade for several hours and then baked with the addition of onion. Moreover, it includes a roll and a mandatory sauce based on broths of roast pork, veal bones and dry red wine. This Kraków version of a burger is often served with a pickles or cucumbers in brine. It is best to try Maczanka sold in food trucks. Although it resembles a fast food dish, it was already known in the 17th century, when it was a favourite dish especially among students and cabmen.