Thursday, February 24, 2011

Look At That Polish Sausage Sizzle

Just before I left Poland on Tuesday I finally had some authentic Polish kielbasa.  I wanted to splurge in a sit-down restaurant and it took some deciding on a place.  I was leaning toward a cafe in Warsaw called Zapiecek, on the main boulevard just around the corner from Nowy Swiat Street, where my hostel was located.  I had peeked in at the menu the day before and saw that for 22 zl (about $8.00), you get tea and two different kinds of sausages, served with onions and bread.  The waitresses wore flowery traditional-Polish-looking outfits, and from the aroma in the air, I guessed I would be in for a real treat.

The next day I went in, made my order, and sat eagerly anticipating this kielbasa.  I was sipping my tea when the waitress placed the accoutrement before me, including dishes of spicy mustard and horseradish, and a basket of brown bread.  Then, after warning me that "it's hot," she set down a large platter and took off the cover to reveal two scrumptious-looking pieces of meat atop a bed of grilled onions.  The sausage was still smoking and sizzling.

I don't know why I got the sudden urge to do this, but I quickly whipped out my camera and caught the sizzling sausage on video.  The group to my left--who seemed to be engaged in a business lunch from the sound of things--kept shooting me curious looks as I sat and filmed my kielbasa for posterity.  But I didn’t care.  They can have authentic Polish kielbasa—in Poland—anytime they want.  I was leaving Poland that afternoon, not knowing when I’d return, and wanted to take this memory with me.

The sausage was—in a word—delicious, but it's also been problematic.  To begin--because I hate to waste food, money, et cetera--I tried to stuff in as much sausage as I could at the restaurant.  When I felt like I was about to explode, I put the rest in a little baggie, along with the remaining two pieces of bread smeared with mustard and horseradish, and then paid the bill.

I walked back to the hostel uncomfortably full, collected my bags, and then hopped a city bus to the airport.  The airport is about a 40-minute ride with between 15 and 20 stops along the way.  Initially the only available seat on the bus was one in which you must sit backwards.  I sat down, but after about three stops-and-starts I began to feel nauseated with all the motion and a stomach full of sausage, bread, and butter-saturated onions.  I stood up and faced forward the rest of the way, but still, by the time I reached the airport, I was completely sick to my stomach.  I spent some of my last remaining Polish zlotys on an outrageously-priced can of Coke in an effort to settle things, and it did help some.  I also chucked the leftovers-baggie in the trash.  It pained me to waste a precious Ziploc, and a real one from America to boot, but I knew I wanted nothing more to do with Polish sausage anytime soon.

The next day, after some time, a couple of Pepto Bismol tablets, and the aid of digestion, I was looking back on my Polish sausage more fondly.  It was, truly, a great meal.  I decided that my next blog post would feature my sausage video because, for some reason, I found that sausage sizzle very exciting and thought perhaps it might be of interest to others.  I know my dad will like it, considering during our weekly phone call for the past four Sundays, he's asked, with a vicarious longing, "Did you have the Polish kielbasa yet?"

I tried to upload the video to my blog yesterday afternoon, and though it seemed to be working, it was taking forever.  Finally I canceled the upload and left the hostel to go see some more of Luxembourg.  (I'll explain how I ended up in Luxembourg on the way to Bulgaria later.)   I returned in the evening and tried again.  I thought maybe the earlier upload attempt had been taking so long because at that time I had other programs simultaneously open, so this time I closed everything but the video upload.

I lay on my bed and read while I waited.  After an hour or so, it still wasn’t done.  Now I was completely frustrated because, one, I had spent hours trying to upload this dumb sausage video, and two, I had promised a post for yesterday evening, specifically before bedtime.  Who is even going to care about this sausage anyway? I thought, now feeling ridiculous about it.  But currently none of the other posts in the hopper is even close to completion, so I decided to wait the sausage one out.  At some point, I drifted off to sleep with the light on and my laptop open to a screen that told me that my sausage video was currently uploading.

I woke up this morning to the sound of my Italian roommate's shuffling, and immediately checked on the video.  It said there had been an error, and I had been logged out of the hostel's wi-fi sometime during the night.  So no video.  Now this sausage was really churning my guts for the second time.

Once she saw that I was awake, my roommate (who, incidentally, looks remarkably like Angelina Jolie) asked, “Were you having nightmares last night?”  Intrigued and a little embarrassed, I thought for a second and replied, “I don’t remember.  Why, was I yelling in my sleep or something?”  She told me "it was more like muttering," but she didn’t really understand what I'd been saying.  I bet it was about this damn sausage video, I thought.

Now the whole thing was just absurd.  Here I was in a Luxembourg hostel disturbing my Italian roommate with night terrors over a frustrating failure to upload a Polish-sausage video clip.  I had nearly given the whole thing up when this morning over breakfast I figured out that if I first post the video to YouTube, I could then easily upload it directly to my blog with one click of a button.  The whole process took about ten minutes from start to finish.

And now here it is, Sizzling Polish Sausage: