Thursday, 28 June 2007

stary kleparz

I used to hate Woolies fruit and veg. Every friggin’ time I would purchase tomatoes or radishes I would chuck a tanty, whine about their tastelessness and get annoyed at having to pay a heap for crap that tasted like shit. My dad used to travel Sydney wide looking for the real tomatoes from Maltese wogs selling straight off their hobby farms on the way to Campbelltown. Then he would come home, proud as bloody punch for having found the treasures and we would all crowd around the kitchen table, ooing and aahing over their aroma and wonderful taste. I.e. we were wankers. Same applied to fresh geese, cucumbers, bread or garlic that wasn’t grown in China. And that’s what annoyed me the most – the appalling state of the fresh vegetables in Sydney’s normal supermarkets, forced the more ambitious foodies to become fresh food wankers (Farmer’s Market anyone?). Lucky are those who live in the proximity of food co-ops or delis that suffice (certain wankedom is always present though), or the early birds who have time to hit Flemington. Tough titties to those who live in the burbs and are stuck with shit on their plates. This is wrong. Tasty tomatoes for everyone dammit.

And Krakow? There are fresh fruit and vegetable open air markets in every major part of the city (so you never have to travel too far outside your neighbourhood, even if you are living in the burbs). Despite the influx of huge ‘hypermarkets’ like Tesco, Geant and Carrfour selling fibrous rubbish, the average Pole still purchases at the markets and smirks at the crap sold wrapped in foil or delivered on a styrofoam tray. And because these markets are easily accessible, cheap and convenient they are normal and therefore wank free. The one down the road from ours is convenient but lacks the babushka buzz, so I go to Stary Kleparz, the market we once lived close to (same place the Ukrainian Easter eggs were bought), where I can purchase fresh ewe's milk cheese.

The pics below are of what is in season at the moment.

highlander babcia - I buy farm cheese from her

cherries are back

chanterelles - my fave mushrooms (early mushroom season)

more mushies - don't know their English name

good radish that


broad beans

Wednesday, 27 June 2007


I was visiting my parents over the last couple of days. Turned out that they had a bit of a party for friends and family on Saturday. It was the first ‘do’ at their new place and my mum was desperate to steer away from the stiff mechanics of a Polish shindig, whereby people sit rigidly at the table, places set, three course dinner served and a relaxed atmosphere anticipated with the third shot of vodka. Instead, Basia was keen to introduce some laid-backness in entertaining the guests, ala Oz style. So they had a bbq (which was quickly dubbed by the guests as a ‘garten pardi’). There was a table set with salads, dips, bread etc at one end of the patio, my dad in his cook’s apron frying up meat at the other end, no official table set for guests to sit at, and a bunch of bewildered faces not knowing what to do with themselves. It was hilarious. People showed up in suits. They sat on garden chairs expecting to be served instead of loading up their own plates themselves. Because the meat was slow coming, people were forced to sample salads, pasta and rice dishes first and to their carnivorous alarm, were surprised at actually liking food that didn’t contain protein. Unfortunately three shots of vodka had to be drunk before people relaxed. The end result was a mixed reaction. Some of the guests loved the idea and commented how much better and easy-going an official ‘do’ could turn out with a bit of fresh air and fried onion, whilst others looked at the Krzywicki clan with scorn and ‘how uncivilised’ expressions on their faces. Fuck ‘em, I said to my mum, as we emptied the last nibbled bits of shish kebabs into the compost bin. Bring on the next garten pardi!

Apologies for lack of photos from the shindig. Instead have a look at the fresh strawberries my dad got from his next door neighbour.

storky business

The stork is a Polish icon. It not only brings babies in bundles, but when it returns from far and away Africa in spring, it brings with it the warm weather and good times ahead. More importantly though, when the stork decides to build a nest on your chimney it means you are the luckiest bugger in town, your house is blessed and the family will prosper. And on an ecological side, it is also an indication the air in the area is clean and there are plenty of frogs, which in turn suggests clean water. Thus stork equals all round goodness. It is an additional bonus that the birds also happen to look like super dorky spazmos. When the first storks arrive, village primary schools get their kids to dress up in stork costumes to welcome the birds back on Polish turf and to greet spring. Needless to say then, I was overly excited when my parents took me to this abandoned house to show me the stork nest. The house has been taken apart and the bricks used elsewhere, ruins remain. But the owners, in love with their stork tenants, decided to leave the chimney standing so that the storks could continue their storky business.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007


Wong left for Vienna today. He’s back on Monday. I called the train info line to ask some details about the connection. The dude kept putting me on hold. Pissed off I dialed 4 to talk to an English speaking operator (same dude picked up the phone immediately) and abused him in English for putting me on hold. It worked and I got the info I needed (probably because my rant in English was fast enough that the poor bugger didn’t understand what I was saying). I wonder when this free ride of ‘I’m sort of a foreigner’ will end for me here?

Wong was up at 5am to make his train. Michal and I got up to see him off despite Wong’s horror and distaste at seeing us refuse to go back to bed, insisting on being up. That’s the way it is – Slavic hospitality – sometimes uncomfortable, often unnecessary. Whilst tying his shoes he grinned and said, “I left you a parting gift Michal” pointing to the stack of dirty dishes left over from his hearty breakfast of sausage and egg (“do Poles have big breakfasts before a train journey?” Wong asked). The house will be empty without him. And me. I am heading off to Debno to see my parents.

to avoid confusion, this note was left by Wong in the fridge

do it yourself

We planted some plants in the communal garden on Sunday. Michal and I went to the local Castorama (ala Bunnings) and bought some pine needle crawlers and shrubs. The small block of flats we live in was built a year ago, the developer stuffed the new owners around and never finished off what he was meant to finish off (there is a pending law suit). Hence the parking area is somewhat of a nightmare, the garden area ain’t too crash hot either and the paving round the front stairs already needs uplifting. Everyone is pitching in and things are starting to take shape albeit very slowly. Our contribution (apart from the communal new door mat with feet and Wong’s basil) so far has been the plants.

The gardening ‘experience’ however, turned into a bitter war against what only appeared to be soil on top. As Michal sunk the spade into the dirt, we looked with dismay at the building rubble underneath, realising what the next door neighbour meant when he lent us the spade chuckling “don’t break the tool mate”. The developer in a budget attempt at ‘evening out’ the garden area, sunk broken bricks, tiles, bits of insulation, plastic, roof tiles and other shit associated with construction around the open area of the building and hid it with a thin layer of topsoil. We bought seven plants and ended up clearing eleven buckets worth of rubble before we could actually reach the earth and plant the poor buggers. Really made me want to slap someone. Ultimately the ordeal wasn’t all that surprising. Krakow, well Poland generally, is going through a massive housing boom. Real estate prices are skyrocketing and construction companies, swimming in the profits, are unable to build quickly enough to meet the demands. They really are the kings of the hill, with huge lobbying power, and can do whatever they goddamn like. It’s not much of a point of contention nor a topic of conversation round these parts anymore to learn that your construction company has screwed you over, failed to build a road in the building estate they promised to build, instead of a children’s playground they snuck in a 10 storey apartment eyesore mammoth without telling the people in the area, or just filed for bankruptcy leaving new would-be owners with huge mortgages they acquired to put down the deposit payments. And because the judicial system is good for nothing, the legal process takes years (on average 3) to come up with an outcome and pittance in terms of damages (compensation litigation is in its infancy in Poland). Fortunately the EU has implemented tight guidelines as to urban space (only 10 per cent of Krakow has urban planning) so everything built these days is more inhabitable. Poor suckers who bought before 2004 and this includes off the plan apartments that are still in construction stages today. What is the answer to this problem you ask? Build your own bloody house.

door mat
diy floral improvements

battle on wee shrubs...

sour cherry tree

Friday, 15 June 2007

holiday pacing

Michael Wong is still at our place and it turns out he’s a pretty goddamn good house guest. Example, on Monday he washed all the windows. When we were away he replanted all my basil. He cooks really good curries and entertains us with his online purchases. The ladies at the post office where he goes to pick up his ordered goods have started to write in English on the post slips left in our mail box. The last one indicated that a ‘smal paket’ was ready to be picked up. It turned out to be snuff. Around 15 tins of it. The boys have been sniffing snuff each evening after supper, and from what I can gather the “Prime Minister” flavour is their favourite. No wonder the era of snuff has ended - it's not really appealing watching someone stick fingers up their nose and suck in brown looking shit that leaves crap residue on the sniffer's face. Michael argues that they used special sniffing picks back in the day. I say he should roll up a fiver instead.

We are all going for a spot of one night camping tonight (for a bonfired sausage) and tomorrow to Michal’s parents’ place in Suchedniow. Apparently the mushrooms have made an early appearance and people are starting to get excited.

basil patch

Wong with a cereal bowl used as a coffee mug. He must
really burn his mittens.

Today's curry. Yummo.

Wong's snuff stash.

is it necessary?

I came home and found this glaring at me from the living room window. What was looking to be a normal extension to the neighbours' house, turned out to be the West Bank Separation Wall no. II, disguised as a chimney.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

what not to bring from France

When you purchase and open aged camembert cheese, a fat fart escapes. If you, like me, experience this for the first time, you blame the fart on someone standing close by. When the fart continues to reek for 15 minutes you begin to wander what in the hell the person standing close by was eating all week. Then you get uneasy. Then a Frenchie explains that it is in fact the aged camembert. You giggle and turn red for being a moronic pleb. Uncertainly you take a bite of it and it is heaven. Then you make the rash decision to purchase loads of it for your friends and family back in Poland. You wrap it up in newspaper, stick it in a plastic bag, tie it, then stick that plastic bag into your dirty laundry satchel, which then is thrown into the depth of your backpack. When you arrive home, the people at the baggage carousel look at you with scorn and probably label you as an uncouth swamp monger. Just deserts, because at this stage your backpack and therefore you stink like shit. At home you quickly throw all the clothes from the laundry satchel (minus the cheese) into the washing machine and pray for a miracle. It doesn’t come. When the clothes are washed they continue to stink of cheese poo.

Perpetrators of Stench



As stated before, whilst in Paris we met some tops Frenchies. Fethia, a tv production assistant from Paris and Yann, a sound engineer from Nancy were our faves amongst the people we met. We had a whole weekend we wanted to spend away from Paris and they suggested we head up to Honfleur, a port town north-west of Paris taken over by artists, their galleries and tourists from England. It actually was lovely. Went to beach but didn’t swim in it (see picture), ate some crepes (average) and wondered the streets (excellent). We also met the owner of an early 20th Century carousel, in operation, it the middle of the town. He was Polish. How the hell does a Polish wog come to France in the mid 90s, end up in Honfleur and becomes a carousel owner? Did he bring the carousel with him? Did he find it in the French yellow pages? Did he get a good deal?

“What do you do, sir?”

“Oh, I am the local carousel owner. I bring joy to the youngsters.”

His wife sits in the booth and sells the tickets. It is in operation all year round.



old Citroen

the carousel

the beach - the industrial cranes in the backdrop
did not entice us to take a dip

federer you ninny!

We were there for the quarters, we were there for the semis. Unfortunately the men’s final (and only one set of it) was seen at the airport lounge at Charles de Gaulle. I had high hopes. I had thumbs crossed. I thought the champ wouldn’t disappoint a second year round, especially against such a bafoon as is Nadal. Nadal obviously takes it up his vein. No one can be that huge, that young, that fast and that slow witted and claim not to be doped up. Impossible. His left forearm is as huge as Serena William’s thigh for chrsissake! Besides, he has that stupid Terminator look released from under his brow every time an opponent wins a point, which I hate. He does it to intimidate – but ends up looking like a fuck stick, as the ‘look’ is closely followed by Nadal’s forefinger reaching his ass and plucking out his wedgy from his crack. Yeah, you look heaps scary now…man. So I was rooting for Federer. He bloody lost. What a grass court ninny. The pictures are from the quarters against Robredo, a right Spanish hottie.

Federer serving an ace

Robredo loosing big time

Sunday, 3 June 2007

skinny paris

Thank you to all who sent me the Teletubbies update regarding Poland’s continuous fear of effeminate men carrying women’s purses. For those who don’t know, Poland’s right wing coalition party the Legion of Polish Families (LPR) wants to ban the Teletubbies from public broadcasting in the country, as it appears that Tinky Winky might be gay. In the show he is seen wandering around the meadows with a lady’s purse. Funny that. Poland does not seem to have any issues with the man bag number carried by moustached men in moccasins. Now this indeed should be a topic of concern! I have an uncle who fits the above description and he’s never been a victim of gay hate. Maybe Tinky Winky needs a biker moustache and Ukrainian gold teeth to make him look more hetero. But this LPR reaction must be put into some perspective. This is a party, after all, that only four or so months ago, wanted to establish Jesus as the King of Poland. Ah huh.

Apologies for the lack of photos but it appears that I have forgotten my camera/laptop cord thingy required for downloading. Shame. Two nights ago Michal and I were invited by a lovely Parisian girl, Fethia, whom we met at the tennis, to a trendoid pub in Bastille. The smoke was gruesome and the beer mild. The blasé nonchalant crowd of emo carbon copy cut-outs was impressive. All that was missing were the trucker hats. A subtle difference, no doubt, not to be mistaken for - god forbid, American layabouts. Visual? A super skinny waif guy, with black skinny jeans hugging his non existent hips, unshaven and loving it, faded small t-shirt, trainers, and a swooping fringe covering half his face. They all looked exactly the same. Michal with his well equipped ass was a circus freak standing amidst them all, as he desperately tried to squeeze his way to the bar for another pitcher of the said mild beer.

And because we’re all adults...

Michal walks into a tobacconist:

“Pardon monsieur, parlez vous anglaise?”

Tobacconist shakes his head and laughs.

Michal unperturbed: “Le kondom?”

Tobacconist: “Huh?” (raises his eyebrows)

Michal: “Le preservative?”

Tobacconist: “oui oui!!” (roars with laughter – as does the other man waiting in the queue)

Tobacconist: “oui oui préservatif, le préservatif!!”