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Last updated : Nov 2009
Poland Social Profile
Poland Culture and Social Profile - TravelPuppy.com
Food & Drink

Poland has a distinct cuisine, with typical ingredients being dill, marjoram, caraway seeds, wild mushrooms and sour cream, which is frequently added to soups, sauces and braised meats. The national dish of Poland is bigos, made of sauerkraut, fresh cabbage, onions and any variety of leftover meat. Polish meals start with przekaski, such as pike in aspic, marinated fish in sour cream, salted and rolled herring fillets with pickles and onions, kulebiak (large mushroom and cabbage pasty) or Polish sausages such as the long, thin and highly spiced kabanos or the hunters’ sausage (mysliwska) made with game and pork. Soups play a significant part at mealtimes and are usually rich and very thick. Soups such as barszcz (beetroot soup, outstanding with sour cream) or rosol (beef or chicken bouillon) are often served in cups with small hot pasties stuffed with cabbage or meat.

Popular dishes include zrazy zawijane (mushroom stuffed beefsteak rolls in sour cream) served with boiled kasza (buckwheat) and pig’s knuckles. Poland is also a good country for fish (ryba) such as carp served in sweet and sour jellied sauce, and poached pike with horseradish in cream. Herring (sledz) is very popular and is served up in countless different ways. Pastries (ciastka) are also very nice. Table service is the norm in the restaurants.

Vodka (wódka), the national drink, is taken chilled. Wyborowa is considered as the best standard vodka, but there are lots of flavoured varieties such as zubrowka (bison grass), tarniowka (sloe plum), sliwowica (prune) and pieprzowka (vodka with ground white pepper). Western drinks, such as whisky, gin or brandy, can be obtained in most bars but are costly. Wine is available but, again, is imported and costly. The best bottled beer is zywiec, a fairly strong lager type beer. All bars have table and/or counter service.

Coffee shops are very popular in Poland and are the preferred places for social meetings from early morning to late at night. These do not close during the day and have the same function as do pubs in the United Kingdom. Alcoholic drinks are available the whole day.


Warsaw also reflects the strong theatrical and musical traditions of Poland, with about 17 theatres and 3 opera companies. Cinemas in Poland show Polish and foreign films. There are some discos in Poland, as well as an increasing number of nightclubs and music bars in Warsaw.


Special purchases include glass and enamelware, silverware, handmade jewellery with amber and silver, handwoven rugs, dolls in regional costumes, woodcarvings and clay and metal sculptures.

Shopping hours: Monday-Friday 0600-1800/1900, shorter hours on Saturday and Sunday. ‘Night shops’ open 2000-0800. Supermarkets and department stores open Monday-Saturday 0900-2000. Bookshops open Monday-Friday 1100-1900.

Social Conventions

Poles are very friendly, industrious people and foreigners are usually made very welcome. There is a huge contrast between urban and rural life and the Polish peasantry is very religious and conservative, maintaining a traditional way of life. Roman Catholicism plays a very important role in daily life and criticism or jokes about religion are not appreciated, despite the general good humour of the people.

Music and art are also significant aspects of Polish culture. Shaking hands is the normal form of greeting. Normal courtesies are observed when visiting private homes and it is customary to bring some flowers. Fairly conservative casual wear is the most appropriate attire, but ofcourse dress should be formal when specified for entertaining in the evening or in a smart restaurant. Smoking is restricted in some of the public buildings.


Military installations such as bridges, airports, ports, border points etc should not be photographed.


10% to 15%is customary in restaurants and cafes. Tipping in self service restaurants is not expected. Tips for porter’s services in hotels and train stations are customary.