Day 8: Poland
Here is a country that always gets the short end of the stick. They peaked in the 16th century, then got screwed during just about every major European event since. The country got its independence after World War I, then lost it again during World War II due to an inconveniently close proximity to both Germany and Russia. Seriously, folks. Think about it. Imagine being invaded by Nazi Germany on September 1st, then the Soviet Union on September 17th. That’s like getting kicked in the nuts by your next door neighbor, then two weeks later getting knifed in the back by your ex girlfriend— except it takes six years for them to stop kicking and stabbing you, most of your internal organs are ravaged, you look like hell and you still have to figure out how you’re going to pay your hospital bills. So what does the rest of the world do? They make fun of them. A lot. Literally every single member of my elementary school had a Polish joke. We all called them stupid even though none of us knew any Polish people. Even when my old Jewish grandmother talked to me about my heritage, she would say “Thank God no Polish.” What the hell? Why is it perfectly acceptable to make fun of Polish people? Is it because they lost a higher percentage of their citizens during World War II than other country, so we figure they won’t be around to be offended? Well I’m sick of it. I spent a few months in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, which is a major Polish neighborhood in New York, and while every other ethnicity in Brooklyn is getting pushed further and further east by The Great Hipster Migration, the Polish are still there— surviving. Like they always do. So I’m here to say something once and for all: Everybody needs to stop talking shit about Poland. I’ve got Poland’s back and if you fuck with Poland, you’re fucking with me too.
And don’t even start talking crap about Polish food. I’m serious. Don’t do it. Pierogi, potato pancakes, borscht, goulash, sausages…if you don’t like that stuff there’s something wrong with you. But they don’t just make delicious drinking food, they also make the best vodka in the world. As a Polish bartender once told me: “In Russia they believe in quantity. In Poland, we believe in quality.” That’s right, Russia. Poland just said you’re too drunk to taste the difference. So it’s about time I sit down for some delicious Polish food. The food of the people. Inexpensive, tasty food that helps its country survive, even though I’m getting it at a pretty expensive restaurant in Santa Monica that has been around since I was a kid.
Warszawa. I don’t have a job so I’m going for their “Is anybody happy hour.” Drinks are a dollar off, appetizers are half price and if Poland has a tiki bar, I guess it would look like this. It’s outdoor, there’s a movie screen, the walls are all made of wood and Gnarls Barkley is playing on the stereo. But the food here is good and GirlfriendBites deserves a date on a Thursday night, so I’m taking her out for a romantic Polish dinner. After a pair of bison grass vodka drinks we start with the cold borscht, which is an alarming Pepto-Bismol pink. GirlfriendBites is skeptical, but one bite with the warm bread (brought over from the delicious Bay Cities Italian Deli down the street) and she’s sold. Beets, cucumber and dill. What could be bad about that? Then we dive into some potato pancakes. Thin, crispy, delicious. Another round of vodka and we’re ready for a couple of appetizer plates of pierogi. Chicken and herb pierogi in a saffron sauce, fried mushroom cabbage pierogi and fried potato and caramelized onion pierogi. It has to be good, right? It’s tasty things wrapped inside of tasty things. I am going to say this: anybody who can’t find some food they like at a Polish restaurant is an idiot. I don’t feel at all bad about saying that since whoever that person is probably made fun of Polish people when they were kids, so they’re already on my bad side.
But it’s getting cold outside at the Kraków Cabana, so GirlfriendBites and I are going to pack it up and go home. An easy, simple, delicious dinner with no worries and no problems. Warszawa may be a little overpriced for Polish food, but at least they’re showing it some respect, which is more than I can say for most of the people out there. So give it up for Poland, everybody. Celebrate them with some hearty food and delicious vodka. They deserve it. I promise. Now stop talking shit or I’ll beat your ass.
1414 Lincoln Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Food Breakdown: 4 alcoholic beverages, 4 appetizers
Distance From My House: 6.9 miles