Our culinary journey will perversely start... with dessert. The papal cream cake is obviously an obligatory part of every trip to Wadowice. It will ideally taste as a sweet snack after a sightseeing tour of the local monuments. The cake with delicate fluffy cream on a crisp base has been known in Małopolska for generations, but it owes its huge fame to one sentence spoken at the Wadowice market square in 1999... During the meeting with inhabitants of his hometown, John Paul II recalled his youth spent in Wadowice and the delicious cream cakes he had savoured after the graduation exam. His mysterious smile and nostalgic memory drew the attention of crowds. Since that moment, the cream cake has become the culinary symbol of Wadowice and one of the best-known Polish desserts! From that one day, almost every visitor to the local area wants to savour this exceptional delicacy, and local cake shops continue to improve the traditional recipe, the secret of which lies in a small quantity of alcohol added to the cream.
Moving on along the western borders of Małopolska, we will reach the picturesque surroundings of Zator. This place is known not only for Poland’s most famous amusement parks but also for the breeding of excellent carp. Carp breeding in Zator probably dates back to the times of Bolesław Krzywousty [Bolesław III Wrymouth] (1086–1138). The earliest mentions of Zator carp were made in the chronicles of Jan Długosz (1415–1480). The fish was served at Wawel tables and was a favourite dish of crowned heads. Today it is produced in three neighbouring communes: Zatów, Przeciszów and Spytkowice under the Carp Valley project. But the main part of production is located in Zator, hence the name of the fish. The total breeding area encompasses 134 sq. km. The Zator carp was obtained by cross-breeding the Polish (Galician) carp line with pure Hungarian, Yugoslavian, Gołysz and Israeli lines. Its distinguishing features are the strong spine, compact form and olive (or olive-blue) colour. The carp owes its delicate taste and fresh yet light aroma to the unique two-year earthen pond breeding system and especially to natural feeding with local wheat, barley, triticale and corn. The carp tastes excellent when it is fresh and smoked or processed into many delicious products that make wonderful culinary gifts and souvenirs. If you find also a moment to visit local facilities making up the Carp Valley eco-museum, you will learn many interesting details about local fishing traditions.
Chrzanów cuisine has been famous for roasted potatoes [called ‘ziemniaki po cabańsku’) for centuries. Every housewife in the local area knows this old traditional recipe very well. The dish has become even more famous since 2010, when it was entered into the ministerial list of traditional products. The recipe comes from ‘cabans’ (shepherds) – descendants of the incoming populace that settled in the Chrzanów lands during Tatar invasions in the 13th century. In the past, roasted potatoes were prepared as food for hard-working peasants who were working in the fields. Thus, the dish had to consist of simple and available ingredients. It was most popular during harvests, when potatoes, onion, carrot and beets were usually a part of readily available agricultural products. First, vegetables were put in layers in a clay (subsequently, cast-iron) pot; sometimes, but not too often, lard or pieces of meat were added. The pot was put into the fire. The dish was eaten on cabbage leaves by means of slender wooden skewers. Today, local housewives improve upon the old recipes by adding various substances and spices, but the basics remain the same... When you are in the area, remember to sample this excellent dish.
Cabbage is not only a vegetable that is readily available in the field and can be used as an edible dish in which to serve food, as is done with Chrzanów potatoes – it is also a tremendously healthy delicacy, particularly in the form of silage. The best cabbage in the Małopolska region is pickled in Charsznica. This picturesquely situated village is the real cabbage capital of Poland and the seat of the world’s only cabbage museum! Charsznica cabbage fields occupy an area of over 2,500 hectares. Around 10% of the entire Polish cabbage harvest is grown here. Ripe green heads grow in accordance with the strictest organic farming standards. They are harvested from local fields and then shredded and pickled using traditional methods passed from father to son. Cabbage is subjected to fully natural processes without the use of preservatives, acidity regulators or antioxidants. It is not pasteurised, either. Abounding in vitamins and minerals, silage is the base for a range of mouth-watering salads and preserves. You can also come across fully pickled heads of cabbage that are ideal for such dishes as cabbage rolls.
When you are full after the culinary trip, we recommend a good beverage – local wineries will provide not only great drinks but also an opportunity to rest in a beautiful natural setting. You can check on the Małopolska Wine Trail which of the hospitable wineries are located on the route of our culinary journeys.
In Lanckorona and Osiek, there are also two Tourist Treasures of Małopolska distinguished in the category ‘Culinary Offer for Visitors’. Cafe Pensjonat and Molo Restaurant invite you to taste local delicacies. The fact of having been awarded distinctions in competitions means that they attract many inhabitants and guests.
Other things you can taste during a culinary trip to Western Małopolska:
● Jura lamb from Olkusz sheep and cooked Jura lard entered into the list of traditional products
● Desert Charm – a local beverage produced in the area of the Błędów Desert, made from dry snow pea seeds, sprouted winter rye seeds, sugar, and water from Jurassic and Triassic aquifers
● Beers from the Tenczynek Brewery
● Roadside Flavours – local delicacies and preserves prepared in the Lanckorona area
● Preserves from Kalwaria Zebrzydowska
● Seasonal saffron milk-cups in Andrychów
● Lanckorona horseradish soup that you can taste during holidays or local Lanckorona events
● Treasures of Carp Valley – excellent Zator carp products