If there’s one thing Aleksandra August hopes viewers take away from her new show “Flavor of Poland,” it’s that they learn something more about the country than its culinary offerings of pierogi and kielbasa.
“Here in the U.S., there’s been a certain amount of information about Poland and its food, but I want to say it’s been surface level,” August said. “One hundred percent it is pierogi and kielbasa, but it’s so much more.”
The 13-episode series “Flavor of Poland,” co-produced by WTTW, takes viewers on a journey throughout the country while digging into its history, culture and culinary staples.
One of the most memorable dishes August tried was an amber soup served in the beachside town of Gdynia.
August clarifies it wasn’t amber in color, but a fish broth made with cuts of salmon, cod and a marinade that uses bits from amber stones – a gemstone made from fossilized tree sap found around the Baltic Sea.
“The soup has the best of both Mother Nature and Father Neptune. So, it’s this super mysterious dish that’s very healthy and very flavorful too,” she said.
August, a Polish native who moved to Chicago with her family at a young age, says that while she wants to move past cliché Polish dishes, there’s no ignoring the history and cultural significance of paczki.
The jelly donuts are particularly popular on Fat Thursday in Poland and have become a treat for many on Fat Tuesday in the U.S.
The series features one of the oldest paczki shops in Warsaw, Poland’s capital. Zagoździński Pastry Workshop has been open for nearly 100 years and uses a generations-old recipe for its paczki.
On Fat Thursdays, locals line up as early as 3 a.m. for their pick. The bakery sells approximately 8,000 paczki throughout the day.
“It looks like a little bit of a hole in the wall but it’s one of Warsaw’s most esteemed and popular paczki bakeries,” she said.