January 19

A Chef In Poland

Blog, Featured, Travel

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By Eric Horwitz, CEO of LIFT Enrichment 

There are some cities that just call your name.

Warsaw is one of those, for me.

My first introduction to Eastern Europe was when I was invited to a friend’s wedding in Kiev, Ukraine back in late 2020.  I had a great time and enjoyed the city’s walkability, culture, vibe and low-cost but high-quality lifestyle when you earn American dollars and spend them elsewhere.

In 2022, I thought I’d visit Kiev, but because of the Ukraine-Russia War, I spent a week and a half touring Warsaw, Poland.  I loved the experience and went back again for the full month of July in 2023.  Next summer, I’ll probably stay longer so I can really get to know the people, culture and life.

Here’s a quick reel from my visit in 2021

And reasons why I love Warsaw

1) It’s A Very Walkable City

In the center of the downtown stands the massive Palace of Culture and Science.  It’s a relic from the Communist era and dominates the skyline.  Communism was very, very hard on the Polish people.  Scientists were not encouraged to try new things because if a new idea wasn’t well-liked, there was a real possibility they might be imprisoned or killed.

The city eventually got out of communism’s grip, and you can see it in the architecture.

The vibe of Warsaw is a bit of a mix of old and new.  If you turn down one street, you can see a building from World War 2, then an office building from the communist era and then in the background a brand new skyscraper.  There’s even a tech bubble developing in Warsaw

In the summer, Warsaw is bursting with color and activity.  Everyone looks happy, having survived the cold Winter where it snows sometimes and gets below 20 degrees F at night!

There are beautiful and magnificent parks everywhere.  There are cafes and restaurants to experience.  Everyone is outside and enjoying the weather.  It’s a vibe you don’t get in Phoenix, Arizona.

I truly believe that walking makes people happier.  It also keeps you a bit slimmer and less stressed.

 

2) The Polish People

The first thing you noticed about the people of Warsaw is that almost everyone takes a bit of pride in their appearance.  Most of the population is generally quite fit and healthy looking.  They are stylishly dressed too.

I remember seeing a family walk back where the man was tall and well-groomed, his wife pretty and each was holding the hand of a child, one boy and one girl.  It looked like a Chase Bank commercial.

The culture, like other European countries, encourages looking your best.  You won’t see people in pajamas or sweats at the grocery store.  I’ve even heard that daughters would be criticized by their moms if they stepped out looking too casual!

I also got the chance to meet members of the Poland Chapter of the Entrepreneur’s Organization. It’s a worldwide network of entrepreneurs (220 chapters with over 18,000 members) that I first wrote about here.  Dawid, the chapter president, hosted a party to enjoy whiskey and make pizzas.  It was a fun combination, and I got to help make some of the pies.  Everyone was welcoming and I had a great time.

By the way, you don’t need to speak Polish in Warsaw.  Almost everyone speaks English.

One of the guys, Tiz, became a buddy and we went out later in the week to a nightclub.  I’m not a big nightclub myself, but I can dance and have fun.

 

This pic was at a fun club called Level 27 that was inside a skyscraper.  It had views of the city and we danced and vibed until the sun came up.

 

 

 

3) It’s a very economically friendly city if you make American dollars!

Do you want to stay at a 5-star hotel?  It sometimes costs only $200 a night!

$200 a night gets you…not much in Los Angeles or Scottsdale.

How about a 3-course lunch made of farm-to-table food?  It’s $25 a person (and that includes tax and tip!)

I was amazed by how the restaurants and food were high-quality but at a fraction of the cost!

It was fun to take friends out to dinner and not worry about the bill.

When I was in Arizona, everytime I’d go out to dinner for two people for a few drinks, appetizer, entrees and dessert the bill was usually $200-$300.

In Poland, you can live like a king!  And I enjoyed it.  It’s kind of like going to Mexico where everything feels 50-70% off the typical price…but you’re in a beautiful and safe city in Europe!

4) The Trip to Krakow

I spent most of my stay in Warsaw, but one memorable side trip was a 4-day visit to Krakow.  Krakow is the second biggest city and it’s very old and historic.  There’s a city center made surrounded by a large moat.  Inside you’l find a bright, beautiful city with colorful buildings.  It’s like going back in time.  That main street is actually one of the most expensive streets in the world if you’re a vendor.

There’s a cool castle to visit, and I learned a lot on a tour.

Check out this video I made about my Krakow tour 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5) The Food of Poland

Polish people enjoy a very savory breakfast, usually made of Rye bread, cucumber, cheese, deli meats, cured fish, spreadable cheese, eggs and more.  Sometimes there might be yogurt and fruit.  It’s a hearty meal.

Lunch could be soup or salad, and dinner is typically light as well.

The most well known food of Poland is the Pierogi.  It’s a dumpling that is boiled and then sauteed in onions and butter.  Popular fillings include meat, cabbage, cheese and it can even be a dessert with blueberries and sugar.  It’s delicious and very popular.

You’ll also find a lot of meat and potato dishes like a giant schnitzel with potato salad, Meat Goulash with potato pancakes, or Pork knuckle with mashed potatoes.

I don’t know how the Polish people eat these foods and stay so thin!  I think they just eat in moderation and enjoy smaller portions.  Plus there are places to eat salads and lighter foods.

My new home will soon be Dubai but you won’t find me there in the summer, when it gets up to 110 degrees F!

Instead, I’ll be in Warsaw.  Sipping coffee at an outdoor cafe.  Or walking through the cobblestone streets on my way to enjoy something delicious!

Come visit if you have the chance.

While we don’t offer Polish cooking classes, but we do offer healthy culinary workshops to Title-1 schools!   Book a meeting with our team here

 


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Eric Horwitz

About LIFT

Eric founded LIFT Enrichment in 2010 because he wanted to help young kids develop their culinary skills so they could make healthy foods for friends and family for the rest of their lives.  He has worked with kids for over 15 years and enjoys their energy and enthusiasm for learning new things.  Eric studied abroad in Italy while at UCLA and discovered a passion for cooking.  

Eric Horwitz, Ceo of Lift

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