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Christmas Eve Crp

Jeff Taylor. Fot. Sławomir Ostrowski

Jeff Taylor. Fot. Sławomir Ostrowski

Note from the author: Today while writing this entry of Streffa Jeffa, I’ve noticed that the letter „a” isn’t always working on my keyboard. This has occurred only occasionally, but you may notice a word is misspelled. Hopefully this will not affect your reading pleasure.

Christmas thankfully comes at the end of the year; without it we wouldn’t be able to tolerate the year. There would likely be more suicides throughout the year if we celebrated Christmas earlier, let’s say in March. A big collective „Ah, fuck it” would arise from the population. What do you expect? In March the weather isn’t improving aytime soon. This wonderful holiday gives something us to aim for.

Besides enjoying our loved ones company, rejoicing the birth of Christ and exchanging presents, we have one of the few opportunities to observe traditions – our contact with our ancestors, our childhood, memories, Polish heritage, home.

So many Polish traditions are connected with Christmas. I arrived in Poland at the end of November, my students when talking about life here they of course described Polish Christmas and all of the cherished traditions.

This is a time for the family. „Home is where the heart is” and this is where Poles want to be on December 24th and 25th. You wouldn’t think of going out with friends, which was saved for the 26th.

The first star. On Christmas Eve, children could not open their presents until the first star, the Star of Bethlehem, was visible in the sky. Every year, once this magical star was sighted, the children were sent to another room to investigate a strange noise or something outside the kitchen window. And as always, during their absence, Saint Nicholas would appear to leave presents and then immediately depart before the kids could see him. The same trick every year and children always fall for it.

Man, they’re stupid.

But the heart of Polish Christmas are all the dishes eaten on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I recall my students describing these dishes with open eyes and drooling mouths. Poppy-seed cake, cabbage and mushrooms, barszczyk z uszkami (beet-broth with ear-shaped dumplings), herring, cheese-cake, etc. For American Thanksgivig, the one dish that must be on the table is turkey; for Polish Christmas that dish is a big plate of ….crp. Initially, I was eager to try this delicacy. Crp in gelatin! Jellied crp. „Well, this must be good! How could it be bad?”

That first Christmas in Poland. Specificallyin Włocławek. A student had gratiously invited me to his home for several days. I heartedly agree that Christmas can be wonderful, but if somebody is new a country and its holiday traditions, it’s a incredibly boring. But at least then in 1991 and every year since there has always been crp.

Compared to other dishes, crp is not gourmet food, not by long shot. Like many countries’ most loved dishes, crp is peasant food, simple standard food by the people for the people. Long ago in Poland’s past, a large part of the rural population couldn’t afford fancy dishes, but there was plenty of crp. Most people wouldn’t eat the stuff, considered it below them. However, when there was no other choice, they tried some crp.

If done often enough, something which was unpleasant can be become routine and eventually tradition. Nowadays Poles cannot imagine this special day without crp in some form. What’s amazing, crp can be prepapred in different ways. The afforementioned American turkey is usually filled with a bread stuffing and then cooked in the oven for several hours. People occasionally vary the recipe but not that much. However, for crp there are so many recipes; yet it still tastes like crp. So I’ll end today’s entry with a list of recipes that have crp as the main ingredient. Smacznego!

Jellied crp

Pickled crp

Deep-fried crp

Oven-roasted crp in cream

Roasted crp on a bed of carmelized onions

Crp chowder

Crp casserole

Baked crp stuffed with mushrooms

Jewish sweet and sour crp

Smoked crp

Poached crp in white wine

Crp sandwich

(łw)

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