It is official, I survived my first Polish wedding… (I should actually say we survived), all be it a little sleep deprived, a little bit fatter and possibly still a little bit drunk! I did not get as much as I was hoping for with regards to recipes (sorry dad, no Barszcz) but I did get some ideas along the way and will definitely be able to whip something up for D that makes him think of home. I managed to get a few recipes from a cousin, the question is and will be determined, if they will survive D’s translation but we will blunder on… Apart from the wedding we didn’t really eat much in the way of meals but we do owe a huge thank you to everyone who put us up on their sofas and gave us food when we came knocking on their doors late at night, tired and hungover.
Shopping for the wedding was mad, the shops are massive and filled with everything you could want (well almost as I could not find Almonds anywhere) and the ailes are just long rows of the same one product. Here in little old Dublin, I am not used to this… 57 kinds of ketchup!
By late afternoon with the wine bought, for those of us who freaked out and couldn’t handle the thought of vodka shots all night (yes moi!), Vodka and Cytrynowka (90%proof limoncello) delivered, food for the party on day three of the wedding safely in the fridge, and balloons blown up, we fell upon the local German restaurant (the very place the wedding was to be held the next day) and devoured our first meal of the day. I managed to get my fill of Pierogi (dumplings filled with potato and cottage cheese or mushroom and cabbage)and we ate lots of wonderful salads, soups and breads and D had a not so nice ‘Compote’ juice drink made with stewed cherries and a wee bit too much sugar. Which was actually pretty awful if I’m being honest.
This was my second trip to D’s homeland, it was a little bit more fraught than the last time but it was worth it. Oh my golly gosh do the Polish know how to celebrate a wedding. Three days of drinking Vodka shots and eating vast amounts of pork, soups, salads and cake, now I just want to collapse. The wedding itself is full of its traditions. From driving to the church, the locals come out and stop you on the way with bunches of flowers and in return you thank them and give them a bottle of Vodka for their celebrations or sweets and chocolate for the kids, I think we had twenty bottles in our car and only four left by the time we got to the church. Then there is the throwing of money and candy at the bride and groom when they first set foot outside the church as husband and wife. But the most traditions were within the party.
You arrive and straight away find your seat and sing a traditional song to the bride and groom and shout ‘Gorzko Gorzko’ meaning kiss kiss and they must kiss for as long as the audience requires, then you eat! Wow what a spread. Firstly came the soup, chicken noodle and you ladle your own broth over the noodles. Then the meat, various types of pork and I think chicken breaded in different ways with a gravy sauce and some salads, I went to the bathroom and in that time my plate had been whisked away and 3 new ones put in place with fresh cutlery and a coffee cup. Then there was the cakes (yes plural). I will be glad if I never see another cake again. Up next was the actual cutting of the official wedding cake (yes more cake) and then the third plate was actually for the next round of meat that was to be brought out. I kid you not that almost in the time it takes me to write these words is how quickly these waves of food arrived and disappeared. And to top it all off there were three more dinners to come, this was just a light supper to start you off before the Vodka was handed out. Which may I say that at one point in front of me I had a bottle of Vodka, a bottle of wine, a bottle of pear schnapps and a bottle of Cytrynowka which were later joined by beers. I think I need a nap after remembering all this! Dancing of course is a must throughout this evening. I was so terrified to dance with the strangers that were coming up to me that if I saw anyone approach I would just shovel food into my mouth so they would understand that I was still eating and couldn’t possibly dance, although this trick did not always work and I would be whisked off my seat by one of the uncles. There is of course always one member of the family who overindulges in the booze and in this case shall remain nameless but forever shall his striptease be burnt into my memory (you know who you are!)
Anyway with eating and drinking and more eating and dancing, the evening is filled with singing to the bride and groom and yet more dancing, drinking and eating. Over here the bride throws her bouquet to the girls at the wedding, but in Poland I was handed a wooden spoon and had no idea whether I was to start making soup or dance with it. I tried getting an explanation from D’s niece but it wasn’t quite clear until the groom tried to take the veil from the brides head and all the girls started to literally whack his hands to stop him. Poor man, his hands were still swollen then next day. But once removed the veil is then thrown behind towards the single young ladies. I of course caught it. Yippie hopefully we are getting married next! Then the groom throws his tie (no wooden spoons involved this time) and I had my fingers and toes crossed as I had heard that whoever caught the tie would be my dance partner for the traditional dance to celebrate the newest couple (me and ?)…. fingers and toes crossed, my darling Damian caught the tie, my saviour. We danced with everyone holding hands in a circle around us and dancing to our future. With a little bit of the conga line thrown for good measure halfway through.
The party was amazing and the hangover matched it. The two days to follow were pretty much the same with the exception that the third day was a party at home (lunch/dinner/midnight drinking session) with yet more Vodka and this time a roasted stuffed piglet . There are a couple of things I am quite queasy about eating. Pork and bunny rabbits, the two of which were offered up to me.
I tried to talk sense to the ickle bunnies, told them to run while they could but they just sat on the grass munching away and luckily I didn’t have to cuddle the piglet before it was served otherwise I may have had to cry or something. The pig was tasty enough as it was pickled for twelve hours before hand but I couldn’t stomach more than two bites as I really don’t like pork. I will one day endeavour to make a nice pork dish for D but for now I have plenty to keep myself busy.
I should mention that I don’t speak any Polish and found it quite hard to keep a smile on my face as there were times I was bored due to lack of understanding any conversations but I have become an expert on body language and understanding a little of what goes on. But all in all it was a great week, it had its ups and downs but we made it through and home safely, just about. I am full of inspiration and energy and hope you will stop by soon to see what new (or not so new but good) things are coming about…