Polish Pork Chop in New York
When someone asks me: „Don’t you miss Polish food?”, I say I don’t. Is it because I don’t like Polish cuisine…? No. I do enjoy it. I may prefer Greek or Italian, but I always enjoy a good „schabowy” [pork chop]. I don’t miss it, because it’s available over here. Of course, it may not always be „homemade cold cuts” (or maybe I just haven’t looked?), but every time I feel like having some mashed potatoes with a meatball and saurekraut, I go to Greenpoint or look for a Polish store nearby.
Most Polish people here choose to eat Polish food. And even though New York City offers a variety of cuisines from all over the world, I’m sure that most of my compatriots prefer to go to Greenpoint for some „home cooking” instead of going all „fusion”. Polish food seems to serve as a little remnant of their mother country. All it takes is one bite of schabowy and you already feel like you’re on Baltic shore.
Greenpoint is full of Polish restaurants, but you can get Polish food in many Polish stores scattered all over town. You can look, for example, in Ridgewood in Queens (Ridgewood is more and more often the destination for Polish immigrants, since Greenpoint prices keep increasing).
In Polish stores, except for Polish products, you will get food to go: several types of soups and 2-3 second courses with various sides. A meal like that is only a couple of bucks and is prepared freshly every day. The food is tasty and always fresh (the flavor is not 100% Polish since the products themselves mostly aren’t – I mean especially the potatoes!).
Craving for Polish food got to me last week and since I was going to Greenpoint anyway, I decided to enter a traditional Polish bar, which back in Poland I would call „a milk bar” (here it’s only a „bar”, but I bet Americans think every single place in Poland looks exactly like it). The Milk Bar was located on Manhattan Avenue, the main artery of Greenpoint, which I already wrote about here at Just Like NY (every time I think how ironically the name of the avenue sounds, given how different it is from Manhattan). Well, the design was potatoes what was to be expected – and so was the service (I felt as if I truly had walked into a milk bar in Poland). The Polish waitress greeted me with a smile, but it didn’t last long – it disappeared as soon as she addressed her colleague. The smile didn’t last long enough to answer the questions I had, either. The food was tasty, but the design depressed me so much I decided to take food out in the future. I didn’t choose life in New York City to go to places like that. Polish cuisine is tasty enough to make it palatable – you just have to „package” it differently, without making people want to take everything „to go”. I’m looking forward to a modern restaurant in which I will eat a couple of gołąbki (cabbage rolls) without having to look at such table „decoration” as the one pictured below.