Christmas around the world - differences between Christmas in the UK and in Poland

Monday, December 13, 2010

We are presenting the Christmas interview with Karolina Grochalska, known to some as “Pani Serwusowa” and leading culinary blog “Senses in the kitchen”.

What is Christmas for you? Do you mainly spend time with family and friends or in the kitchen and shopping?

Fist of all, Christmas means time spent with my family and the food wise - dishes prepared for this occasion only. Also it means lots of spare time for me as my boss generously gives us all an extra week of holiday until New Year. Every Christmas I try to spend time with my family in Poland but unfortunately this year I cannot manage a trip back home so my partner and I are staying in North Yorkshire. I am hoping to catch up with reading, as some of books were piling up for ages and also we will walk in Dales if the weather permits.  We will spend quite a lot of time in a front of our fireplace with good food and wine. I hate crowds in the shopping centre and all this Christmas madness so if possible I buy gifts on-line and prepare handmade culinary ones at home.     

Which of the Christmas recipes you like to prepare the most?

It is the eating that I like the most (laughs). When at my Mum’s home I like to help her to make a traditional Polish (popular especially in Silesia region, southern Poland where I come from) called “makówki” – a sweet dish made with black poppy seeds boiled in milk with sugar, raisins, walnuts and almonds. There are always some poppy seeds remaining on the bottom of the pan and I like to wipe the pan clean with a piece of bread. I do not prepare it myself when in UK, first of all there is no way to buy plain ready-grinded poppy seeds in UK and grinding them at home can be quite tricky. Secondly I prefer my Mum’s dish because mine was never as delicious as her. It is the stirring in a big pan filled with this sweet mixture of poppy seeds and dried fruits makes me so happy.

In the kitchen every year before Christmas, are using the same senses, or maybe you like to experiment?

Every year I prepare some traditional meals as well as some new ones. I like to experiment and at the same time I have a great respect for some recipes that exist in my family for generations. Therefore I do not experiment with “makówki” or traditional fish soup, but I introduce some new roast meat or cheesecakes to our Christmas meals. This year I made my first traditional English Christmas cake with lots of dried fruits, which has to be kept in an airtight container and fed with brandy for few (at least three) weeks before the consumption. Probably this year I will make an attempt to my own lamb pâté, perhaps some roasted game. I hope I will be able to present it on my blog.

What differences do you notice between Christmas in the UK and in Poland?

The main noticeable difference is that Brits celebrate on Christmas Day, first thing in the morning, whereas Poles on Christmas Eve, 24th December. If we consider culinary matters Brits have their stuffed roast turkey served with roast potatoes and various veg for Christmas dinner and the cake I mentioned earlier, cheeseboard (they have over 700 cheese types across the country!) or traditional Christmas pudding (again made with dried fruits, but served hot) with brandy sauce. I do not wish to judge on which side of English Channel people celebrate Christmas in more interesting way; here in England it is different to what I got used to in Poland. There is certainly one custom that I would love to introduce to Poland and it is Christmas party. From Poland I remember boring Christmas meetings with traditional kind of wafer that we share between ourselves wishing joy and happiness. Here with my bosses and colleagues we meet in a pub or restaurant for a meal and then we go to see a show or musical, or just stay in a pub for a drink. I rather avoid telling you the exact description of Christmas customs in UK, as I believe you can find many of those on Internet. There is something that I have noticed in many British homes and I would like to emphasize it – Christmas is mainly a time of meetings with family and friends and to eat many delicious things. Does it sound familiar?          

What would you like to get for Christmas?

As a blogger I would love to get good photography equipment so I can shoot better photographs and also one of the popular planetary mixers that I was dreaming of for ages - made by company starting with letter K (laughs). Non – materially I would be very happy if the number of my readers increases and if my blog brings to people an inspiration to experiment in the kitchen. Privately I do not think I lack anything in my life, I try to be happy with what I have. All I could wish for is health and happiness for my family and friends.  

With the Cooklet readers I would like to share my recipe for the cranberry chutney which goes very well with cheese and cold roasted meat, so perhaps it will end up on somebody’s Christmas table? It makes a tasty gift when packed in a pretty jar.

Profile of Karolina Grochalska on Cooklet: Zmyslywkuchni
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