We tried traditional Polish street food at Bury St Edmunds market and this is what we thought
Living away from Poland for nearly two decades, I always longed for a taste of my homeland, but I never quite caught it.
Although nothing can surpass my mum’s cooking, I never thought my pursuit to find a true, traditional taste of Polish cuisine will be on the streets of Bury St Edmunds. But again, it is the foodie capital of Suffolk.
What started as a search for parsley at Bury’s Saturday market, ended with a travel to a small, Slavic village in northern Poland, where my mum would task me with a mission to buy ‘słodka bułka’ (sweet roll) from the corner shop for breakfast.
I would often find myself racing against other villagers to buy the popular snack before it sold out – it really felt as if I was in some sort of Olympic race.
To my surprise, I did not think I would experience that again until I saw crowds huddled over the Polish Street Food stall on Saturday.
On the menu, visitors were offered with the choice of a ‘zapiekanka’ (toasted baguette) or a sweet apple roll – here it was called an ‘apple slice’.
Although I hesitated at first, as I was still full from my breakfast, I could not resist the perfectly golden roll, softly sprinkled with crumble and an oozing homemade custard filling – there is always room for dessert, right?
Being greeted with a familiar ‘dzień dobry’ (good morning), I asked what fillings the sweet rolls came with as they usually range from blueberries to custard to cottage cheese.
Justyna, the owner, explained she bakes with seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients, so in-line with the autumn season, it was an apple filling.
Although I have eaten many sweet rolls in my lifetime, I was slightly nervous for Justyna, as the food she was selling was made from ingredients that could make the food anything but dry.
However, as I took my first bite I was instantly flooded with memories of when our family friends used to bake them using apples from their orchard.
It was a taste that no corner shop could top, and the nostalgic taste is something Justyna managed to recreate with her homemade apple slice – maybe even topping that.
The sweet roll was filled with a perfectly smooth and creamy apple filling that was only getting better with every bite.
The apples were slightly crispy, but melted perfectly with the custard. The most surprising part was how well- balanced the dough to filling ration was.
Usually, you struggle eating through a very dry dough before you get to the filling – the best part of a sweet roll – and even that ends too quickly.
But Justyna’s filling was spread throughout which was probably the main reason that made me turn around to order four more (do not worry, I was sharing them with my family).
I was so excited and proud of how well-done the food was, that when a lady stopped me to ask what I was eating, I instantly directed her to Justyna’s stall. It was £3.50 spent well.
On my second visit, I also added a baguette to the order. The menu offered five different toppings, with the classic being a filling with mushrooms and cheese.
Although, very tempting, I opted for a classic with the addition of spinach with garlic and chives – otherwise known as ‘the green one’.
For only £7, the baguette kept me full for the whole day. For me, a half for the price of £5 would have been the perfect size.
The baguettes seemed very popular with other customers – with one saying he came to order a baguette because he saw someone else carrying what he thought was a strange but beautiful flower.
It certainty was beautiful and tasted even better.
I was informed that the baguette was homemade, which is what probably gave it an amazing crunch. It was toasted just enough to not make it dry or soggy, which is what the mushrooms could have done.
The vegetables were seasoned well – with a slight spicy kick to them – and they melted perfectly with the sprinkled cheese.
After experiencing all the amazing, traditional Polish flavours, I could not wait to finish my errands in town to head back home and share my find with my family.
With only a few months on the Ely market – which is on every Thursday – and Justyna’s first day at the Bury market, this is a place I’d be returning to to taste a slice of Poland.