Yesterday, I knew it was a Public Holiday in Poland, but it was only during breakfast, that my fiancé’s mom tried to explain to me in Polish, pointing to a procession being shown on TV, the significance of today. What I understood from it was “God”, “Christ”, “Flowers” and “Walk”.
Anyway, as the day unfolded, I realised that the public holiday was Corpus Christ (Body of Christ), or in Polish, Boże Ciało, which as I understood is a Catholic Festival to commemorate the practice of the Holy Eucharist or Kommunion.
People (adults and children both) walk in the procession on streets in cities and villages, in large groups, scattering flowers on the street, as it is believed that Christ walks these streets on this special day.
In both villages and cities you may also find people dressed up in traditional clothes from the yore. Although I missed this part, it would definitely be a pretty sight to see. Just so you know, Boże Ciało does not take place on the same date every year, you’ll find the dates for each year here.
My fiancé’s mom said that she cannot recall a single day of Boże Ciało, when it was not supremely sunny.
And it was just a day like that. Sunny, warm, really warm. One of those days with perfect temperature in the shade, endless sun, perfect humidity and good day to sit by the lake a have a nice beer or rosé wine, or go for a drive outside the city.
And that’s exactly what we did.
First of all, it does amaze me each time, how accessible it is, to escape into the beauty of a massive lake in this region of Warmia & Mazury. Five minutes drive away from home and we’re at a beautiful lake, sunning ourselves on deck with a beer and a wine at a place called Yacht Club near Olsztyn. And there’s not just one lake. There’s hundreds. About 2000 actually, in this region. Warmia & Mazury is indeed a special region when it comes to perfect summer weather.
From there we decided to drive to a village called Gietrzwałd, about 10-15 minutes drive away from Osztyn, to a restaurant called Karczma Warminska (Karczma actually refers to an Inn serving Polish food, but in this case it was the name of the restaurant itself), for some real traditional Polish food. But apart from food itself, this little village is famous for it’s old church which dates back to the 1500’s and for the miraculous healing natural spring water. The famous apparitions of Virgin Mary in 1877 over the period of a few months, made this place sacred, in one where she uttered the words “Now, the sick people can take this water for their healing”….
Anyway, feeling quite holy after having had some of the sacred spring water, we made our way to some food, which, by the way, you could smell from a mile away.
The Karczma restaurant is epitome of the word Lovely. We throw that word in everywhere we can, but this is one place you can really honestly describe as Lovely. Overlooking a tiny rivulet with little bridges running across, perfect sunshine streaming into the open wooden decks,and today we also had some local live music.
This place is open both in summer and winter, and I can imagine it even when it is snowed in, warm interiors and the smell of delicious food, with all the meats and soups emanating their aromas into the village air.
“Old Warmians didn’t stint on food and drink, they ate a lot of common and simple dishes, they drank vodka with honey but in moderation, and maybe that’s why they often live one hundred years and longer. Here in Karczma Warminska, you can take the opportunity to taste this simple authentic cuisine, so appetising and healthy. Remember that the creator told us to eat, so that we could live. Moreover He gave us also the appetite and the pleasure of eating. So please sit down dear guest because the dishes are already waiting for You. Before you begin to taste our dishes, we encourage you to try our home-made lard.”
So we sat down in the perfect sunshine. Enjoying some delicious home-made lard, or Smalec ze Skwarkami, which is another very Polish pre-meal appetiser (be careful not to have too much, for this is really lard, such as the lard that can gather around your waistline). It’s not an expensive place, but following the Warmian way, we ate simply. We had a Zurek Soup (Polish Sour Rye Soup), which was one of the most delicious ones I’ve had so far, a plate of cured cold cuts, and some regional cherry beer. It can’t get better than that. Na Zdrowie !
Tip : If happen to visit Gietrzwałd, and have a spiritual streak in you, carry an empty bottle for the delicious spring water. Also, I’ve hear that the Pierogi at Karczma Warminska restaurant is not the best, so before you order it, give it a second thought. If you’re not a Pierogi connoisseur, I don’t think it would matter.