Our traditional Christmas Day dinner is Polish kielbasa, along with homemade pierogi and borscht. Finding the beets for our first Christmas here was a little challenging (a root vegetable should be available in great abundance in winter!), but not nearly as challenging as finding a butcher who sold Polish kielbasa. In December I was, I am not joking, tempted to drive north and stop in cities en route to Krakow in an attempt to find this necessity. Eventually I found a butcher in the 22nd who sold what he called “Polnische kolbasa.” We all found it to be adequate, but with room for improvement.
A few weeks ago I spied something called “Austrian Kolbasa”at the Merkur. Better than what we enjoyed for Christmas, but my epicurian palate still was not satisfied.
I recently engaged with the UN Women’s Guild, and this week at the Newcomer’s Meeting I learned that there exists a “Polish Quarter” in Vienna. Finally. After nine months of wurst (Don’t get me wrong, Austria. You really do a bang-up job with wurst.), sometimes a girl just wants the simple comfort food of her heritage.
Saturday could not come soon enough. One child was in Bonn, the other departed at 06:15 for Budapest, leaving the two of us with an entire day to find this “Polish Quarter.” After we deposited the Frankfurt students we were housing at the school (Excellent housing gifts! A gold-trimmed decorative plate of Frankfurt and a box of real Brasilian coffee) we set out.
Slight detour at the Naschmarkt beforehand, as I remembered I was out of my favorite soy sauce and various curry pastes. The spring green color at the flower shop was blinding.
Sidetracked by fresh made pasta flour. Definitely making fresh tagliatelle tomorrow for our oxtail ragu supper.
My favorite Tirolean grocery man tempted us with a sample of Mountain Goat sausage. Melt-in-the-mouth delicious. But not a stand-in for kielbasa.
And he sealed the deal with a wedge of fresh goat’s milk cheese and sheep’s milk blue. I love the little animals!
A few stalls later, I paused to savor the briny aroma of oysters.
I then paused again. You would have, too.
So cute. But not a stand-in for kielbasa.
Waste not, want not. I have no idea how to prepare animal head. I don’t think I ever want to know.
Eventually we left the Naschmarkt, and yes, I did purchase the items I set out to purchase, amazingly enough. Before long we were in the described “zone” of the Polish Quarter.
The New Zealand Embassy. Not Polish, and not what I would expect from middle earth.
An Italian restaurant. Not Polish, either.
A shabby cafe offering kebabs and shwarma, both of which I like, but, not Polish.
The Christ Church thrift store. A treasure chest, with walls filled with contemporary English language books! And staffed by the two sweetest little old British-accented ladies. Picked up a driving map of Switzerland and a field guide to birds of Britain and Europe, with plans to return again and again.
The Christ Church near the thrift store and down the street from the British Embassy. It all makes sense.
We asked the British ladies if they knew where to find a Polish grocer. They did not, but they did report that, “On Sundays, the Polish people arrive and fill the church down the street. They come from everywhere. Behind the church is a Polish club, and they might know.” We were getting warmer.
Walked past the dreary, dreary German Embassy and the Russian Orthodox Church, the antithesis to dreary.
Got excited because I could discern several letters in the Iranian Embassy sign. Not Polish, I know.
You, like we, may be wondering if the Polish Quarter existed, or if this was some sort of UN Women’s Guild snipe hunt for newcomer’s. And then.
Tony spied a Polish beer sign (we each have our priorities), so we turned down the street. Hopes were dashed when it appeared the grocer was closed! I almost cried.
All’s well, to my great relief. Although small, the market contained four different kinds of kielbasa, and a few grocery bags of comfort food that Tony carried home for me. More like a Polish “block,” than a Polish Quarter, but no matter. It’s much closer than Krakow.