We spent a week in Poznan, hiring a car so we could travel around more easily.  The weather was very cold, barely getting above 0 degrees – but it was mainly dry.

Throughout its history Poland had been under threat from its more powerful neighbours.  From 1795 the country was partitioned between Germany, Austria and Russia and became independent in 1918 after World War I.  In 1939 Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany and, after World War II, Soviet Russia took power.  The Polish People’s Republic was established in 1989 and the first elected Prime Minister was Lech Walesa.  Poland joined the European Union in 2004.  A son of Poland, one Donald Tusk, was appointed President of the European Council in 2014.

Many restaurants offered traditional Polish food as well as international cuisine.  Everywhere you would find pierogi, dough wrapped around a savoury or sweet filling and cooked in boiling water – sometimes fried afterwards for a crispy result.  Potatoes were often served, perfectly boiled or baked in their jackets and sprinkled with fresh herbs.  The flavour of the potatoes was strong and earthy, reminding me of freshly dug garden produce.  Beetroot and red cabbage were common, often served topped with a chunk of meat – pork, rabbit, venison or duck.  Every variety of soup was offered, highly seasoned with some surprising ingredients lurking below the surface.  I had a bowl of meaty soup that contained half a lightly boiled egg.

We enjoyed these soft steamed rolls served instead of potatoes with a delicious gloopy sauce.  They were memorably called pyzy drozdzowe.  The meal pictured cost around £7 incuding beer and a coffee afterwards.