A few weeks ago I wrote about my polish heritage and reclaiming some of our family’s culture. I believe it is never too late to start making new memories, traditions and reconnecting with your family, both past and present, and food is a great way to explore culture.
Stumbling across Zapiekanka was a happy accident for me, while watching a travel channel documentary about food in Warsaw there was a small segment about street food, specifically Zapiekanka, which has a strong appeal to college students in Poland.
Zapiekanka which literally translates to “baked” , and although it has very little to do with traditional Polish Cooking, this open face sandwich has quickly become a favorite meal on the go. No one is really sure who invented the Zapiekanka, but it is known that this street food started popping up around the 1970s, which was during the more austere times of Poland’s Communist regime.
The variations of Zapiekanka are endless. Even though there traditionally tomato sauce is not involved comparing Zapiekanka to pizza is not a stretch, the cheese, mushrooms and tomato flavor from the ketchup is all just very reminiscent of a traditional mushroom pizza. And just like pizza, you can get a zapiekanka with almost any topping imaginable. Vegetables, thinly sliced meats, even themed zapiekanka such as “hawaiian” with ham and pineapple, Mexican and Greek adaptations are available.
The appeal of zapiekanka for college students is two-fold. Zapiekanka is a very inexpensive food. For only a few dollars you have get a substantial meal, that happens to be a popular meal after a late night pub outing. And if you are even without many kitchen skills at your disposal anyone can make a zapiekanka. Heck, my “recipe” for the traditional cheese and mushroom zapiekanka can be made without printing the instructions.
Zapiekanka ( Polish Street Food)
- Loaf of Baguette Bread ( cut in half and sliced lengthwise)
- 1-2 tablespoons of butter
- 2 cups White Mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 small white onion sliced
- 3 cups freshly grated cheddar cheese
- Ketchup for garnish
Preheat to 300F
In a skillet over medium heat melt butter, and pan fry mushrooms and onions until soft and cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
On each half of the baguette, evenly spread the cooked mushrooms and onion to cover the cut side of the bread.
Sprinkle with freshly grated cheddar cheese, to your liking
Toast until cheese is all nicely melted through, about 5 minutes
Drizzle with ketchup before serving and enjoy warm.
I can’t ever seem to get to Buffalo for Dyngus Day, the Polish Celebration of the End of Lent, celebrated the Monday after Easter. But I do celebrate at home with my family. We set the table with my polish stoneware, I make pierogies, kielbasa and haluski, and buy a box of Chruscik for dessert. This year I am definitely adding zapiekanka to the mix!