Krakow’s Plac Nowy, its all about Zapienkanki

There were a number of Polish food items (and here) that I savoured when I was previously in Poland, one thing that left me wanting more was Zapienkanka.

Zapienkanka known colloquially as the Polish pizza is a open-faced sandwich made of a baguette cut into half and topped with sauteed mushrooms, cheese and other ingredients. The sandwich is then toasted until the cheese melts and served with ketchup. This Polish street food does not go back centuries but decades, having been developed in the 1970s (when Poland was under the Iron curtain) and the most basic ingredients had to be made to go as far as possible.

The dish died in popularity after the Soviet Union fell but has recently recieved a shot of confidence from locals who have revived the dish to cult like status, espeically after a night of partying (not unlike Langos in Budapest), turning out gourmet versions of the once humble soviet-era dish.

All the blogs said that this was the place in Krakow to get your Zapienkanka fill, it was impossible not to go over and check it out.

There is nothing traditionally beautiful about Plac Nowy, especially when compared with Krakow’s old town. The square is in fact rather ugly – a concrete structure with a hexagonal building in the centre, and cars parked all over. Located in the Jewish Quarter of Kazimierz Plac Nowy was not always a hot-spot for Zapienkanka but was originally a market for the Jewish inhabitants selling kosher products for the large Jewish population in the area. The large ugly rotunda was meant to serve as a ritual slaughter house for chickens to ensure that the meat was kosher.

There is still a butchery in the interior section of the rotunda, but it is the hole in the wall, Zapienkanka stands that capture the attention today, merchant stores are found all around the rotunda selling random items but they seem to be more popular with window shoppers waiting for their zapienkanka.

And why not, Zapienkanki is an amazingly simple and delicious street food.


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