A Polish Christmas
First of all, your paella receipe is fantastic, Silvia! A real cookery lesson, complete with mouth-watering illustrations. When I first read your comment "Probably your first paella won’t be a resounding success…." I thought it was a bit discouraging, but then I read the rest of the sentence: "but I assure you that after having cooked ten paellas you’ll become an expert Paella cook" and I think that's a very nice encouraging way to end the recipe.
There's a more economical way of saying "Depending on one's liking, add a pinch of salt if necessary." In recipes, the usual way of expressing this is "Add salt to taste".
Today I'll tell you something about how Christmas is celebrated in Poland. Of course, you should bear in mind that not everybody observes all these traditions strictly.
On December 24th, the whole family gathers for the Christmas meal, which starts when the first star appears in the sky in the late afternoon. Before they sit down to eat, everyone takes a thin wafer made of flour and water, and they break off a piece of each others' wafers in turn, and exchange good wishes. There should be an empty chair at the table, in case an unexpected guest turns up, or a person in need, and there should be twelve dishes on the table (no meat!) There are also lots of regional variations, but the most typical dishes include carp (a type of fish), herring (e.g. in oil with onion, or in cream with apple and onion), 'pierogi' (small boiled pastries filled with sauerkraut and dried mushrooms), 'barszcz' (beetroot soup), kutia (a sweet dish made from wheat, poppy seeds, honey, nuts and raisins) and compote made from dried fruit. But bread can also be counted as one of the twelve 'dishes', and so can potatoes, for example. You're supposed to taste all twelve dishes to ensure good luck during the coming year. The table is covered with a white tablecloth with some hay spread underneath it.
After the Christmas dinner people exchange presents, or children find their presents under the Christmas tree, and later on a lot of people go to church for midnight mass.
However, my wife and me won't be having a Polish Christmas, because we're going to England to spend Christmas and the New Year with my mother.
You asked whether I miss any English traditions or anything special from the UK. Well, not much really. For one thing, I don't find Poland so enormously different. And for another thing, I visit England pretty often - about five times a year, usually. But I must say I do miss English pubs, because of the beer and the atmosphere, and because a lot of them are buildings of historical interest.
A few points that various people raised:
Anastasia - You asked if I've ever seen insects in amber - only in shops and museums, I'm afraid!
Ernesto - It seems that amber occurs particularly around the Baltic Sea, for some reason. I don't know whether you can also find it in other parts of the world. And thanks for reminding me about Jurassic Park!
Silwal Kishor - You asked how travel agents arrange visits to the dunes. But they don't - people just go there by themselves. The dunes form part of a national park, and there's no motor traffic allowed, but you can walk, cycle or go in a horse-drawn carriage or a little sort of electric taxi. You can also travel part of the way by boat across a lake. It's about 8 km. from Łeba. I'll see if I can dig out some more dune photos.
Christine Yes, it's about 400 km. to Warsaw. I always go by train - I can't drive, anyway. The train isn't very fast, but it's a good opportunity to read, listen to music, catch up with work and so on. You also asked about Polish. It's pretty difficult, yes, but not impossible.
Tiasha - You talked about a place where the Indian Ocean and a river blend together. We use the word 'estuary' or simply 'mouth' of a river for the place where a river flows into the sea. But maybe the place you mean is somehow different?
The English title of the book 'Schiffbruch mit Tiger', which Christine mentions, is 'Life of Pi'.
Now, here are the answers to yesterday's 'as & like' quiz:
1 For them, Spanish is a second language, like English.
2 Like Silvia, I live near a beach.
3 Languages such as Spanish and French derive from Latin.
4 Have you ever worked as a shop assistant?
5 It looks like an old building, but it isn't.
6 I don't know as much as you about Spanish literature.
7 The train was late, as usual.
I seem to be getting forgetful as my brain becomes more and more fossilised. I realised that I forgot to give you the correct versions of these sentences from December 6th:
Is evident its Arabic cultural heritage.
What does it mean the expression "irse de tapas"?
It's also traditional the chocolate yule log.
They should be:
Its Arabic cultural heritage is evident.
What does the expression "irse de tapas" mean?
The chocolate yule log is also traditional.
Next, I've collected some sentences written by different blog-readers. Can you spot the mistakes, and correct them?
1 I always mix up when I have to write a sentence like that.
2 Thank you for the informations about Warsaw, I know very less about it.
3 In this day [January 6th] folk groups use to drop in the houses.
4 The smell (or odour) by night of the orange blossom .....
5 In Italy there are already festive air....Christmas is coming!
6 It is impossible for us to intervene the trend.
7 Their factories sell quality shoes at a price that cannot be competed.
8 Do you like jogging? also I !
9 Cut of job in footwear industries are compensated by growing in construction and other industries may be a great relief for local inhabitants and new ray of hope for better future.
10 People are happy and thats above all.
11 There’re typical regional cakes.
12 It was very interesting your explanation about the Valentian language.
13 For Christmas I often cook a soup [.....] that is more than tasteful.
14 I’m in completely in dark side about Christian culture.
15 Even, there were people sunbathing
16 It recalls me other books.
And here's a mystery for you, if you like linguistic detective work: When I looked through my 10th December blog 'Trip to Warsaw', I noticed that I'd missed a word out of one sentence - can you spot where there's a word missing?
Next time, something about books and films
To end with for today, a photo of me in the woods near the beach.
Thanks for all your contributions. This blog has now closed and can no longer accept new comments.