Wednesday, March 29, 2017

My Mother's Polish Cooking

My Mother's Polish Cooking

Food as you can imagine was always an issue at my house. My mom and dad grew up on farms in Poland in the 1920s and 30s, and they had a completely different sense of what was delicious in the way of food.

Plus, there was all that concentration camp and slave labor camp stuff to take into consideration.
My dad lived on 600 calories a day for 5 years in Buchenwald.  My mom fared little better as a slave laborer in Germany.  When the Americans liberated them, my dad weighed 70 pounds, my mom weighed 100.  My mom used to joke that my dad looked like two shoelaces tied together when she first saw him in the camps.

My parents could never understand me and my sister and our strange American attitudes toward food.

Here's a poem about all that. 


When my sister and me
wouldn’t eat the veal veined
with rubber strings

the gray pigs feet
stewed in a gel
and floating in vinegar

the polish sausage
gristled with white cubes
of hard fat

My mother would ask,
“Maybe you want
some marzipani?”

And my father
would laugh and nod
and take the fat

fingers of kielbasa
and gum them
with joy.

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