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Day 46: Polish Soup for Lunch


I asked Oliwia, my Polish friend who is a college student, if she wanted to heat up her homemade soup in the microwave or on the stove.


She hesitated.


I waited.


She searched for words.


I waited.



She said, “It’s, only….” “I like…”


“It’s okay.” I said, “Let’s heat it on the stove.”


“It’s just that I’ve never used a microwave before.”


I invited her to lunch, then thought that maybe we should have a picnic lunch. She could bring her own and I could have my own so we didn’t have to navigate around each other’s food allergies.


But she wanted to make me a typical Polish soup recipe that is naturally gluten-free. And she brought along her favorite board game, too.


It’s nothing like inviting someone to lunch and having them bring the food and the entertainment. I was more than ready for some homemade soup.


I walked all the way to the big grocery store at the mall so I could buy something to go with soup, but this was a bad time for me to go shopping since I fly home in a few days.


In the end I got some rice cakes (She doesn’t eat bread. Not even gluten-free bread.) and some vegan cream cheese.


I bought an extra container of the cream cheese so she could take one home with her if she liked it. If she didn’t like it, I would eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner until it was gone.


I know. I love to cook, but it’s tough without a good knife or any spices. I bought salt. That’s all. And fresh lemons. Everything I cook in Krakow runs the flavor gambit of salty/lemony.


I’m open to a wider variety of flavors.


We talked about books by American authors that she has read in Polish. Jane Austin. A Christmas Carole. The Tattooist of Auschwitz. Narnia.


My list of books that I have read by Polish authors was a short list.


Zero.


She gave me a list of books I might consider if I could find them in English.


I thought it was nice of her to permit me to get books in my own language.


She said that I ought to read the Tattooist of Auschwitz.


I asked her if the book would break my heart.


She said, “It depends on your heart’s position.”


Hello non-answer.


I fretted over the soup, afraid it would burn since she added cream to it.


“It needs to cook more.” She kept saying.


I tried to turn it off.


“We need to see bigger bubbles.”


I know. I would drink the soup out of a can if it were up to me.



Oliwia's soup made this lunch memorable.

My rental apartment had large, white soup bowls and even a ladle. Fancy.


She told me that her secret soup making genius comes from roasting the vegetables first. And while the veggies are roasting, she boils the herbs and spices in the water.


Really? Boil the herbs and spices?


If anyone knows how to make soup, it’s Polish people: soup is a constant at meals.

There were large chunks of broccoli, carrots and potato. The broth was savory and creamy.


If I ordered this in a restaurant, I would consider myself lucky. Having my friend make it special for our lunch today made it even better.


We slathered the rice cakes with the vegan cheddar flavored cream cheese, and she loved it.


While we finished our soup, I gifted her with the extra container to take home in her empty soup container.


What a delicious lunch.


The leftovers are in my fridge. Guess who’s having soup for breakfast?


We walked to Kazimierz and I introduced her to the Frozen Rolls Thai ice cream that continues to be my favorite.

And another round of my favorite ice cream, Frozen Rolls.

Each time I order the same flavor combination: Coconut milk. Grapefruit. Pineapple. I was glad I didn't try a different combination.

This is perfection!


She got an Oreo/peach combination and thought she would have to bring her friends to try it.



We walked over to the restaurant Mleczarnia for coffee.


Mleczarnia at us. Meiselsa 20, Krakow.

Yes. This is old world charm.

Antique portraits of Jewish people hung on the walls. The wooden tables had dollies and tall candles that are lit at night.


The table was big enough for us to play Rummikub, a complicated board game that’s a combination of Rummy and Mahjong.


She did her best to explain the rules, but it stretched her English skills.


So we started to play, and when I did something against the rules, she would explain my mistake and then apologize that I kept picking up too many tiles or that I didn’t understand I could break pairs apart.


I’m the least competitive person on earth, so I didn’t care if I could figure out the game. It was fun to play.

Coffee and a game. Such a fun afternoon.

I agreed to a second game.


I lost the first game with five tiles left. At the end of the second game I had twelve tiles left.


The more I played, the less skill I had.


It was time to get back outside.


We walked along the Vistula river at sunset.


“Look.” Oliwia said. “There is Marta from the free shop.”


Marta, one of the coordinators from the Szafa Dobra free shop where Oliwia and I volunteered, was walking with friends. I yelled to her. She looked up, waved and kept walking.


I couldn’t believe I saw someone else I knew out in public.


“Do you often see people you know while walking around Krakow?” I asked my friend.


“I didn’t grow up here, so no.”


I told her about the friend meeting a few days ago.


“Yes.” She said. “I know all about it. I read your writing.”


We walked quietly for a moment and then I asked her if she is surprised to see someone she knows walking at the river.


She smiled. “Right now I am very excited that I saw her here.”


A powerful woman holding power.

We climbed up to the castle and watched as the sun painted the sky every color of red.


I told her that my father was a sailor in WW II and that he had a saying, “Red sky at night, Sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.”


She told me that a red sun at night means someone is going to die.


I stopped walking and turned to her. “Have you ever known anyone to die after you saw a red sun at sunset?”


She hadn’t.


I told her I was particularly interested since I was the one walking with her. If I were going to die, I wanted to go back to that gluten-free bakery one more time. Even though I wasn’t hungry.


She said that it is just a made up story about dying and that I had nothing to worry about.


Note to self: go to the gluten-free bakery tomorrow morning.



Oliwia and I walking along the Vistula River in Krakow, Poland.


We passed by a "Green Cinema" movie screening and stood for a moment to watch Greta Thunberg, the Swedish environmentalist activist's documentary.


The Warwel Castle at twilight. Krakow, Poland.


Ivy painting. Warwel Castle. Krakow, Poland.


Anti war demonstration on the Main Square. Old Town, Krakow. Poland.


Goodnight Krakow.


 

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Thanks for reading.

xxooHwH


 

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