Food & Petrol: Polish Lobsters in Beantown
Posted Wednesday, December 18, 2019
Ya gotta love a city with old time neighborhoods that have the immigrant amenities like, in my case, food! Yes, Korean, SE Asian, Eye-talian, Pakistan and the odd ones out like POLISH!
Really! Being half Ital and ¼ Polish (the other bit is Lithuanian) finding these harken back to my youth in the coal mining hills of Eastern Central PA, Schuylkill County, Shenandoah to be exact. You Pierogi & Petrol fans have endured my Ital and Hotdog musings and now to my Bro Kris and our shared heritage, i now reverently go deep into a Kielbasy Koma.
So Beantown (Boston) has the North End, Chinatown and here i am in Southy at a Polish Cafe. Southy which has a ah, reputation is getting, God help us, gentrified. The economic forces that bring renovation, “hipness” and coffee shops often eliminate the soulfull character of a neighborhood. Enough of that stuff and on to Cafe Polonia.
I did do a 8 dollar craft brew at a hipster place but i was not in the mood for over-thought precious micro green topped expressions of ego. My search for genuine ethnic chow was a mere .2 miles away and what good stuff awaited me!
This spot IS the real deal. Handmade tables & chairs, zero architect designed lighting and addytood. A rack of real polish beers ( yeah they were 7$), i chose a Warka, a pale lager, classic, delicious and a menu right out of Adele Kudjowski’s (my middle european Grandma) kitchen. Echoes of Adele and the Block Parties at the Polish Americian Fire Company all came rushing back along with a mild case of potato PTSD…. Small, maybe 30 seats, communal tables, decor right out on my childhood. The triumvirate pics of JFK, The Pope and John L. Lewis were lacking but they had all the stuff! Jars of home made pickles, ornaments and , and, and…
Regardless, I pressed on. Pierogi with meat, cabbage, cheese etc with the staple sweated onions and butter, potato pancakes (yes PPtsd), kielbasy, Kiszka and the delicacy “ Polish Lobsters”. I must thank my longtime pal, Billy Savitisky, from who i first heard use this expression all those years ago , well before i landed in Maine. So what are they? A stuffed cabbage leaf with meat, in this case beef and rice braised in tomato sauce. Simple comfort food from a world and lifetime away. We have made these at Cafe Miranda and then had to explain that there is no lobster in them. Right. Now y’all will note that Kielbasy, Kielbasa, Killbassy are all the same, how one spells it depends on who, where and general education. So suffer me my sausage misspellings.
What to choose? ‘Bassy & cabbage stu? Hunters stew? Sobieski Cutlet? Tripe soup (pass on that one)? I went for the combo plate the “ Polish Plate” . Pierogie, Stuffed Cabbages (PL) Hunters Stew and grilled Kielbasy, with a half order of Potato pancakes with sour cream and apple sauce as a side. We grew up calling these Bleenies while other pals called them lattekees.
Now growing up with families of Immigrants, is Polish and Irish food just a different ratio of potato & cabbage with some sort of meat? Let me know what you think.
My server had an appropriate accent, middle European, possibly Polish or a actor out of work working a style. The food was solid, familiar and satisfying. Being alone for the evening, the after effects of cabbage eating did contribute to Greenhouse effect but troubled noone but me.
Pass on the chocolate Babka ( potato & chocolate?) and dessert beer, we are after all in my heritage mind space. I implore you to take a listen to the happy Kilbo oriented tunes listed below. How about other food oriented tune suggestions from you shock absorber & sourcream fueled compadres? Post on our Cafe M or Chef Kerry Altiero facebook pages. Live videos of you dancing will get a prize. Which will be insignificant but noteworthy.
Ah, a note to the petrol: The daily driver, 05 Dodge Magnum RT, growling Hemi V8, flowmaster exhaust, chipped, AWD. Fun in the dry, a BLAST in the snow…
Farewell F & P fans, Eat safe & drive well…Chef Kerry
For your listening pleasure, ask uncle google to play these:
Kielbasy Heaven Kielbasy Heaven
Dat Lady Luvs Da Kielbasy Dat Lady Luvs Da Kielbasy
A Yonko Sweetheart A Yonko Sweetheart
Kielbasy Rock Kielbasy Rock
Somebody Stole My Kielbasy Somebody Stole My Kielbasy
A Kowalonek Christmas A Kowalonek Christmas
12 Days of Kowalonek’s 12 Days of Kowalonek’s
All I want for Christmas All I want for Christmas
Deck Dem Halls Deck Dem Halls
Oh, Kielbasy Oh, Kielbasy