Saturday, 26 March 2011

To Be (a Kebab) or not to Be

A couple of days ago, Babcia said our local shop has complete and absolute rubbish. At least I think that's what she meant: the actual word - pronounced goovno - usually has rather more faecal implication, but she often seems not to consider such connotations.

(The snow isn't from today, but it may well have looked like the same after this morning's snow.)

Babcia's right, but only from her life-time experience of walking down to the local bazaar to get today's cheap, traditional fresh Polish dinner. An alternative way of putting it is that it is well suited to being a single local village shop in a car and supermarket world. It has no short walking distance competition - isn't doesn't even need a name, so it is expensive, but has a good range for immediate, essential purchase needs. It is not intended for buying Babcia's meals.

A recent addition caught me by surprise, however: a list of burgers, hot-dog and kebab. They don't have any food heating facilities and I couldn't see anything on display, so I didn't know what they were like. I tried the kebab.

They were in the bottom of the food fridge, but I couldn't have recognised them. They looked like small round loaves of bread - about 20 cm/8in across. At 8.50 zloties, they sounded expensive, but they were large. What could they possible be like inside?

I still couldn't recognise the 'kebab'. I heated a third of it - about the size of a medium burger - for a minute in the microwave. The inside was more like a spicy Chinese/Vietnamese dish. It had real chicken pieces and a fully acceptable mild chilli-pepper flavour. Most surprisingly, it balanced well with the bread surround, not at all appearing to be a loaf with a small amount of jam doughnut equivalent filling. Pleasant enough even to be an acceptable dish eaten with rice - not even a hint of sweetening. Not really my choice, especially since it was large enough for three meals, but well thought out and delivered. In fact, although I can see the marketing value of calling it a kebab, it really deserves its own name. Good luck to the producer.

Still, it was such a fundamental difference to the shop's normal range, that I wondered if they would sell enough to be worth stocking. Now, three weeks later, the list is still there and more kebabs, at least, were in the fridge yesterday. There must be a demand and I can imagine them becoming standard food for the many seasonal building workers that come here, rivalling even bottled Breton Beans (Fasolka po Bretońsku). (The shop gets crowded when they arrive and the beer fridge empties.)

From Slim Line: "Breton beans is a quick and easy-to-prepare idea for lunch. An additional advantage is that it's low fat and low in calories. Therefore, this product is recommended for those on a diet". Not quite the thing for manual labour, maybe, but it's one of the few ready prepared meals available to them and preferred to the other bottled meals. They can even manage to heat it up with just an automatic kettle, putting the bottle into the water when it has boiled and leaving it to warm.

I buy them - preferably with just sausage (kiełbasa) rather than with boczek (bochek - fatty, streaky bacon in lumps). They make a standby meal that can stay in the larder for ages. Tesco regularly has promotions with reduced prices or with genuinely 'no extra cost' extra quantity. Not the greatest food - I normally add chilli, but convenient. Some more traditional Polish restaurants make much higher quality versions.

I said the shop was expensive, but not as expensive as others seem to be: "Jaroslaw Kaczynski went to a local grocery shop and bought potatoes, flour, chicken, apples and sugar. The shopping cost 55.60 zloties". Maybe he was preparing a banquet for himself (and his Mum?).

1 comment:

Silent Crawler said...

Kaczyński was preparing supper for him and his cat - his only true lover :D

Kiełbasa is awesome. If I ever eat Breton bean, it's the most awesome and delicious part of the meal.