This Winter That Will End by Margaret Lloyd

I have to admire the way your words

enduring and graceful create

just the right tone. Not giving

anything away but making it

clear you are enduring the necessity

of words for the sake of grace.

But are we talking about being polite

or are we talking about God?

In my mind I put your words

next to the old woman

whose knees and bare feet

froze to the ice on her own floor,

and was found days later repeating

‘Oh God, Oh God’ in Polish.

It was the officer’s opinion

this kept her alive. But was he

referring to speech or prayer?

If prayer, it was through

her continuous prayer, her prayer

was answered. Presuming, of course,

she wanted to stay alive. Often,

we don’t know what we want.

I fear this winter will end

and it will be too late. Too late

to remember our intentions, too late

to repeat what we never understood.

 

by Margaret Lloyd

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4Move Active Magnesium + Vitamins drink

A Pasteurized, carbonated, blueberry flavoured drink with addition of magnesium and vitamins (vitamin C, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12) from Poland with recommendations by former football players Adam Nawałka and Jerzy Dudek.

Price: £0.50 from Tesco for a 250ml can.

Along the top of the can it has the national flags of Russia, Turkey, Germany, Switzerland, France, Poland, Hungary, Sweden, Spain (the simpler civil ensign for civil use version), Italy, Czech Republic, Portugal, Switzerland (again), Germany (again), Austria, Romania and the Slovak Republic. I assume this is were this product has been sold previously… it’s a good way to sell to nationalists I guess…

Packaging information (copied exactly as it is on the packaging)

The Original Premium Vitamin Drink

Pasteurized carbonated blueberry flavoured drink with addition of magnesium and vitamins (vitamin C, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12)

Magnesium + vitamins : Vitamin C, niacin, Vit. B6, B12

Magnesium contributes to normal muscle function, contributes to normal psychological function.

100% of daily requirement for vitamins: C, niacin, B6, B12 in 250ml of the product.

Swiss Vitamin formula – developed by the Swiss laboratory

Sport Champions recommend: Jerzy Dudek

The best trainers recommend: Adam Nawałka

Ingredients: water, sugar, acidity regulator: citric acid; carbon dioxide, magnesium citrate, concentrate from carrot, guarana extract (0,01%) (containing caffeine), aroma, vitamins: vitamin C, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12.

Best before: for the date and batch number see the bottom.

Keep in a dry and cool place. Do not free.

The package contains one suggested portion of the product. Remember to preserve balanced diet and healthy life style. Manufactured in the EU.

[The can also has this information in Polish.]

Nutritional value in 100ml // 250ml (portion)

Energy: 207kJ / 49 kcal // 518kJ / 123 kcal (6%)

Fat 0g // 0g (0%)

of which saturates 0g // 0g (0%)

Carbohydrate 12g // 30g (12%)

of which sugars 12g // 30g (33%)

Protein 0g // 0g (0%)

Salt 0g //0g (0%)

[( ) = Reference intake of an average adult 8400kJ / 2000kcal]

Vitamin C 32mg (40%) // 80mg (100%)

Niacin 6,4mg (40%) // 16mg (100%)

Vitamin B6 0,56mg (40%) // 1,4mg (100%)

Vitamin B12 1,0mg (40%) // 2,5mg (100%)

Magnesium 75mg (20%) // 187,5mg (50%)

[( ) = Nutrient reference values]

Recycling: The can is aluminium and can be recycled.

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Review

Pink in colour… If you drank it straight from the can you probably wouldn’t realise. It taste like an energy drink… because that’s what it is. I forget the exact brand it tastes like but Monster wouldn’t be too far off the mark. Not unpleasant. It tastes ‘pink’… that flavour of ‘pink’ sweets and artificially flavoured drinks have. A laboratory created half way between raspberry and strawberry. It taste ike candy floss. Apparently, according to the can, it’s blueberry. Yes okay let’s go with that… but quite an artifical taste of blueberry no doubt composed of scents A453, R692 and E7330 in specific quantities in the laboratory to emulate the flavour of blueberrys…

Texture wise you only notice the carbonisation immediately after swallowing it.

So… yeah… if you want to try it then go for it… you already know if you’ll be disappointed on not when you buy it. Or better yet just get a soft drink, with the same amount of sugar, or a coffee and improve your diet so you get all the nutrients from better sources.

The claims they make are ridiculous… ‘contributes to normal muscle function, contributes to normal psychological function’… those are such ridiculous, yet vague, claim they might as well rename it Panacea and say it is a cure for all known ailments. A modern day snake oil. It’s a caffinated, sugar filled, drink which in past generations would have been sold as a study aid and is now instead rebranded as a sports or energy drink. It’s sugar… as much sugar as a normal soft drink but with added vitamins.

The recommendations are from Adam Nawałka who is currently the manager of the Polish football team (who is his player career had played for Liverpool and Real Madrid) and Jerzy Dudek a former Polish football team goalkeeper.

The English is grammatically a little incorrect in some parts of the translation but I suppose no one cares as it’s not as if anyone actually reads the information but they still need to cover themselves legally.

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The Ruined Maid by Thomas Hardy

“O ‘Melia, my dear, this does everything crown!
Who could have supposed I should meet you in Town?
And whence such fair garments, such prosperi-ty?” —
“O didn’t you know I’d been ruined?” said she.

-“You left us in tatters, without shoes or socks,
Tired of digging potatoes, and spudding up docks;
And now you’ve gay bracelets and bright feathers three!” —
“Yes: that’s how we dress when we’re ruined,” said she.

-“At home in the barton you said thee’ and thou,’
And thik oon,’ and theäs oon,’ and t’other’; but now
Your talking quite fits ‘ee for high compa-ny!” —
“Some polish is gained with one’s ruin,” said she.

-“Your hands were like paws then, your face blue and bleak
But now I’m bewitched by your delicate cheek,
And your little gloves fit as on any la-dy!” —
“We never do work when we’re ruined,” said she.

-“You used to call home-life a hag-ridden dream,
And you’d sigh, and you’d sock; but at present you seem
To know not of megrims or melancho-ly!” —
“True. One’s pretty lively when ruined,” said she.

-“I wish I had feathers, a fine sweeping gown,
And a delicate face, and could strut about Town!” —
“My dear — a raw country girl, such as you be,
Cannot quite expect that. You ain’t ruined,” said she.

 

by Thomas Hardy (1840 – 1928),

Westbourne Park Villas, 1866

Wałęsa. Człowiek z nadziei [Walesa, Man of Hope] 2013 film

A 2013 Polish biopic film about the leader of the trade union Solidarity movement (and later president of Poland) Lech Walesa by Andrzej Wajda. The film was selected as the Polish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards, but was not nominated. Recently, on 10/01/2017, this film was shown on BBC4.

Synopsis:

Lech Wałęsa, an electrician at the Gdańsk Shipyards, participated in local demonstrations during the 1970s which became violent and left their mark on him after he returned to his daily routine. Ten years later, a new uprising occurred and unexpectedly became a charismatic leader of the Polish dockworkers.

Wałęsa’s leadership role signifies the beginning of a new movement that successfully overcomes the country’s Communist regime, and Wałęsa is pushed into representing the majority of Poland’s population. The Soviet Union authorities, previously regarded as too powerful to be confronted, eventually tolerate existence of the movement a degree. However he is at one point taken from his home in the middle of the night by Soviet officials to an unknown location. On their journey there they pass a road and Lech declares that the people will support him but his escort laugh at this and tell him to open his window and ask the people themselves. On the roadside are some poor farmers who tell him they hate him and he has done nothing to help them. At the interrogation location he is fed and openly shows defiance to the authorities before being eventually released when it’s clear they will get nothing from him. Later we see his wife accepting the Nobel peace prize on his behalf in 1983 as he believed if he left the country he would not be allowed back in.

The film ends on a note of Soviet members saying they will get him and Wałęsa being left unchallenged by opponents. The Polish example of the group Solidarity causes a domino effect throughout Eastern Europe. People in Eastern Germany follow the Polish example, starting demonstrations for freedom which achieves a peaceful reunification of Germany. The Soviet Union then dissolved alongside Yugoslavia.

In the epilogue we are told that while Europe is reshaped, Poland remains stable and peaceful. Yet a huge variety of political parties unfold and Poland is on the brink of becoming as ungovernable as the late Weimar Republic. Wałęsa is subsequently elected as the first president of the new Polish democracy; but, this is followed by feelings of resentment among the Polish people who start to think that Wałęsa is becoming overly privileged. Consequently, the Polish people start to seek out ways to diminish Wałęsa’s significance, until they finally accomplish their goal through uncovering actions from a past period.

Cast:
Robert Więckiewicz as Lech Wałęsa
Agnieszka Grochowska as Danuta Wałęsa
Zbigniew Zamachowski as Nawiślak
Maria Rosaria Omaggio as Oriana Fallaci
Cezary Kosiński as Majchrzak
Mirosław Baka as Klemens Gniech
Iwona Bielska as Ilona, Wałęsa’s neighbour
Maciej Stuhr as Priest
Małgorzata Zajączkowska as Shop assistant
Marcin Hycnar as KOR member Rysiek
Dorota Wellman as Henryka Krzywonos
Adam Woronowicz as Tadeusz Fiszbach
Marcin Perchuć as Instruktor
Ewa Kuryło as Anna Walentynowicz
Arkadiusz Detmer as Malinowski
Mateusz Kościukiewicz as Krzysiek
Piotr Probosz as Mijak
Ewa Kolasińska as Shipyard worker
Michał Czernecki
Remigiusz Jankowski as Shipyard worker
Wojciech Kalarus as Chairman
Maciej Marczewski as KOR member
Maciej Konopiński as SB agent
Marcel Głogowski as Bogdan Wałęsa (aged 8–10)
Wiktor Malinowski as Jarosław Wałęsa (aged 3–5)
Kamil Jaworski as Przemysław Wałęsa (aged 5–7)
Jakub Świderski as Ludwik Prądzyński
Bogusław Kudłek as Bogdan Borusewicz
Michał Meyer as Jerzy Borowczak
Grzegorz Małecki as UB agent
Ewa Konstancja Bułhak as Customs official
Damian Jagusz as soldier

Review:
Be honest – if you read that synopsis and didn’t think ‘this is propaganda’ then your not being critical. This is a view you must take with any biographical works as inevitably there will be a bias present no matter the intent. Either the subject themselves, in the case of autobiographies, is editting the truth in order to better fit their personal self image or intentionally presenting an image they wish to be accepted as true or, in third party works, you are viewing the events through the perception of someone interpreting their subject for better or worse. It reminds me about someone who once told me they only read biographies because they deal in reality while fiction is just make believe. For such people this film will be accepted at face value.

Andrzej Wajda is a freind of Lech Wałęsa and so there is inevitably a bias. This film romanticises events in favour of depicting Lech Walesa as a man of the people who never did anything questionable. It is a love letter to him displaying his defiant, outspoken behaviour and being seen to be rarely challenged successfully in his opposition to the Soviet era establishment. It is highly romanticised not in it’s imagery, as Wadja’s style is distinctly realist and unsensational (barring a few concessions to cinematic flare), but in how we are presented Lech’s personality, showing him often making political statements and being in control of any enviroment he is in – even when he is taken by the secret police from his family to be interrogated.

Many scenes of the film include achive footage in which the faces of the actors are superimposed onto the footage of the person they are playing. Due to the low quality of the footage in compariosn to modern high definition imagery this is done quite effectively although I would wonder if it feels jarring for those familiar with the real life individuals and this footage in its original form. Apart from this we have dramatisations of Lech’s personal life which presumably has been sourced from multiple accounts to create as close to the actual events as possible – or maybe it’s just from Lech’s perspective and therefore favours his interpretation of events.

In the final third of the film, once he is held by the Soviet authorities, all we have is speculation based on his personal accounts of events. My issue with this? In most of this film we have the intergration of modern and contemporary footage (with the actor’s faces placed over those of the actual historical figures they play) which lends itself to making us unable to distinguish which parts are fact and which parts are further along the sliding scale of fact towards we accept as ‘historical fact’.

What I mean by this is we can only base our knowledge on the accounts given by people of the time and any evidence we are able to establish. History is only what we are told happened and which re-enforces the oft cited cliche ‘the victor writes history’ as we are discovering, time and time again, when historians go back to events long ago and uncover new evidence that the previously accepted ‘truth’ is not what actually happened but was a biased interpretations of events from the perspective of one side.

Why note this distinction between fact and historical fact? This film is doing its best to establish Wałęsa’s legacy as an unquestionably noble figure who did no wrong in his lifetime to achieve his goals and yet there is a challenge to such a perception of him nowadays. Recently Wałęsa has faced accussations of colluding with the Soviet government which he vehemently denies despite growing evidence to the contrary. In the closing minutes of the film we see his interrorgaters comment, to almost cartoonish effect, they will ‘get him later’. This moment works to make the audience also refute any later accusations of collusion they will hear including those currently being discussed in light of new evidence. After all who do we believe – the Soviet authorities who are well known to have used certain methods and obscured the reality of events often or this idealised man of the people?

Further to the cartoonishly villainous declaration of revenge we are given a brief summary, via text on the screen, relaying what occurred after the events depicted. One of these asserts that because of Wałęsa’s actions, and the rise of the Solidarity group, Poland led other Eastern Bloc nations towards rebelling against Soviet control and thus were key in the fall of the Berlin Wall.

This film presented an oversimplification of historical events regarding the downfall of the Soviet Union in it’s closing moments by suggesting Wałęsa’s actions, singlehandedly, began the sequence of events that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. There were a great many other world events and internal problems within the Soviet union which led to its downfall so this film, as I have already mentioned, acts as propaganda attempting to secure the legacy of Wałęsa as one of the great historical figures in the history not just of Poland, which has been so hard fought for throughout the centuries by its citizens, but of the world.

He comes across as a historical figure not a man in this film. An image not a living person similar to how canonised saints are depicted. We have seen this time and time again in biopics which cherrypick what is depicted, how it is depicted and perhaps this is why I tend to avoid watching them because ultimately what we are watching is personality propaganda and not a fair account of the individual’s life. Rarely are such films a fair representation of what actually occurred let alone the unblemished, and sometimes unpalatable, truth. Often they instead iconise their subject either as hero or villain.

A caricature who is defined as representing some noble cause and whose example (of their mythos, not their reality) we should follow, is presented to the audience and we are asked to accept it blindly. There are too many examples of biopics being more fiction than fact but that is something to discuss another day. What is safe to say is that the actions of characters in the film must fit the narrative even if it warps the character of the real life person. Examples I can give off the top of my head are First Officer William Murdoch’s depiction in the 1997 film Titanic and of Vivian Liberto Cash in 2005’s Walk The Line both of whom were depicted negatively to enhance the focus narrative without thought to real world events.

Secondary to depictions of Wałęsa are those of the Italian reporter Oriana Fallaci, who is interviewing him as part of the film’s framing device. She is also somewhat of a caricature of the real life person and the choice for her to be used is itself indicative of Wadja’s intentions. Here she is depicted as the classic image all journalists wish to be seen as. Partisan yet invested. Distant yet intimate with their subject. Taking a stand against perceived injustices in the world yet never personally being involved (or indeed effected by it save, as journalist’s often do to create repore in hopes of exposing weakness in their subject, to express a few half hearted suggestions of sympathy – but never empathy). To be objective though they edit what they write and thus can never truly ignore their own experiences in life thus fostering an image which often overshadows the subject they cover. A journalist’s journalist.

The real life Fallaci often came into conflict with Muslims regarding her outspoken criticism of communities both in the East and West while she maintained an aloof air of superiority over them both. During her 1972 interview with Henry Kissinger, Kissinger stated that the Vietnam War was a “useless war” and compared himself to “the cowboy who leads the wagon train by riding ahead alone on his horse”. Kissinger later claimed that it was “the single most disastrous conversation I have ever had with any member of the press”. In 1973, she interviewed Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. She later stated, “He considers women simply as graceful ornaments, incapable of thinking like a man, and then strives to give them complete equality of rights and duties”.

It is hard to suggest that this image isn’t based on one Oriana herself made every effort to enforce during her life through her actions, often intended to incite reaction, and not just Wadja trying to lend further credence to his biopic by using a respected real life journalist in the framing device. She, like any others, was more a journalist seeking glory and building her reputation through conflict than making a difference in the world through her work and reporting things people do not want to accept as reality. Despite the heavily doctored image she seemed to wish to portray of herself fault always lay outside the individual as was the case when she blamed her lung cancer on her stay in Kuwait in 1991 after Saddam Hussein had ordered troops to burn hundreds of oil well alone and not that she had been, by choice, a lifelong heavy smoker. And in this film the fault lay exclusively with the Soviets never with how people did not rise up and challenge them before Wałęsa ascension to, what this film is mythologising as, a figurehead.

Summary:
On many aspects of the film I can find no fault. The acting is impactful, the cinematography up to the standard you would expect of a world class director such as Andrzej Wajda (who sadly passed away 9 October 2016) and it really has the sense, if not the most accurate depiction, of the 1980s in Poland. It is solidly built but the message it wishes to express seems, as with any biographical work, to have a desire to frame events in a certain light and omit anything unseemly in order to create a streamlined mythological narrative about its subject – to create an icon rather than relate a flawed, but inspirational, subject.

My greatest critcism is that Andrzej Wajda considered Lech a personal friend and I feel that this caused him to not cast a critical eye upon his subject. This has led, in this love letter of a film to his freind, to the embellishment of a historical figure and securing of his legacy. It deminishes the moments of true opposition faced in order to secure the heroic, incontestable, historical mythos of Wałęsa. The reason people watch a biopic or read an (auto)biography is to see the person behind the facade but sadly, as is often the case, all we get is a re-enforcement of what was already presented to us elsewhere. If you want an introduction to the life and times of Wałęsa then this is good enough as a biased crib notes like starting point but don’t expect any insight into him or how the Soviet era effected Poland beyond trade union strikes.

If you are interested in the works of Andrzej Wajda, or depictions of Poland under Communist rule, I strongly recommend you go watch Wadja’s Man of Marble (Polish: Człowiek z marmuru) or its sequel Man of Iron (Polish: Człowiek z żelaza) which depict fictionalised characters’ experiences covering the events of the Solidarity movement. In these Wajda is less sentimental about his subject and can better present the moral ‘truth’ of events without concern for offending a friend as has sadly occurred with this biopic made far later in his career.

Blog Update, the BBC’s War and Peace Adaption and a Polish Charity Page

Hi,

I had to take a break the past few months to recuperate. Updates will be sporadic for a while.

Forthcoming posts in the next few weeks will be:

  • Netochka Nezvarovna by Dostoyevsky
  • South of Hell: episode/series synopsis and review
  • A few film reviews.

Maybe a series review of BBC’s recent adaption of War and Peace. In brief: It has good, if anachronistic in its gowns, costume design and well framed scenes but the overall series feels as if it proceeds at a break neck pace. It has pointless nudity for the most part (including showing Natalia full frontal nude in the first episode when she is meant to be only 13 years old which is morally awkward even if the actress is obviously in her twenties) and inevitably, as with other productions, has to skip over all of Tolstoy’s social commentary. My favourite character in the end was Marya Bolkonskaya (loyal and moral to a fault) although I felt that the treatment of Sonya Rostova who is considered a ‘sterile flower’ feels tragic considering how others get a happy ending while she is expected to be satisfied with self-sacrifice. On the whole there is great scenery to entertain the eyes but it works better as a ‘dramatic highlights’ version of the story, useful for focused discussions about particular scenes, than a satisfying dramatic adaption of the novel. A good modern style adaption of the overarching narrative ,where everything has been sexed up to appeal to a younger audience, but may leave those more familiar with the novel, or seeking its social commentary on Tsarist Russian society, unfulfilled.

Tom Burke, as Fedya Dolokhov, stole every scene he was in and reminded me of Rik Mayall’s portrayl of Lord Flashheart in BlackAdder II. Due to how fast the narrative proceeds from his introduction to his seduction of Helena and the inevitable duel with Pierre it feels as if they were intentionally trying to portray Dolokhov as the Russian Flashheart.

… actually maybe I won’t cover War and Peace as that is a concise enough summary. We will see. Tell me if you would be interested in a longer commentary.

In other news: I received this link asking for donations towards the upkeep of a Polish girl called Laura who suffers from congenital bone fragility. The site shows photos of her performances, diplomas of her achievements, a blog, etc. They are appealing for donations as the costs of her treatment and rehabilitation exceed the financial ability of her parents to support her on their own. Contact details are on the ‘Jak pomóc’ (How to help) page

http://www.pomozlaurze.org/

Check it out if you want. There is no obligation.


 

I don’t have access to Word at the moment so WordPress saving a draft every minute or so is a nice feature though I prefer to type it out first then copy/paste into the post drafting part.

Ptasie Mleczko – Waniliowe

Dark Chocolate Covered Vanilla Marshmallow Confectionaries

380g (13.4 oz) Produced by E.Wedel

Available at Tesco and other retailers. The price I am not certain of as it was a gift. (approximately £4-7?)

Oryginalna wedlowska czekolada – Original wedlowska chocolate.

Gwarancje smaku [Translation: Taste guaranteed]
Otwórz i poczuj niebiański smak [Translation: Open and feel the heavenly taste]

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Ptasie Mleczko: to niebiańsko lekka i puszysta pianka ukryta pod warstwą kruchej czekolady. Nowy sposób zamknięcia chroni jego wyjątkowy aromat i najwyższą jakość na jeszcze dłużej. Odkrywaj więc warstwy niebiańskiego smaku kiedy chcesz i tak, jak lubisz.

[Translation: Ptasie Mleczko: A heavenly light and fluffy mousse hidden beneath a crisp chocolate coating. Our new method of closure protects its unique flavour and ensures the highest quality for even longer. Discover the layers of immense heavenly taste when you want and the way you want.]

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Background information: Ptasie Mleczko is a soft chocolate-covered Polish confectionary filled with soft meringue (or milk soufflé). In Russian it is called ptichye moloko (птичье молоко) and in Romanian lapte de pasăre. All these names literally mean “bird’s milk” or crop milk, a substance somewhat resembling milk, produced by certain birds to feed their young. However, this is not origin of the name; rather, ptasie mleczko is also a Polish idiom meaning “an unobtainable delicacy” (compare English: “hen’s teeth”; also, a similar idiom can be found in Bulgarian – тук/там и от пиле мляко има, meaning “even bird milk can be found here/there”).

In Poland, Jan Wedel, owner of the E. Wedel Company, developed the first Ptasie mleczko in 1936. Wedel’s inspiration for the name of the confectionery came from his voyages to France, when he asked himself: “What could bring greater happiness to a man who already has everything?” Then he thought: “Maybe only bird milk.”

In Poland it is one of the most recognized chocolate confectionery having exclusive rights in Poland for the name — other confectionery producers also make similar candies but named differently e.g. Alpejskie mleczko, “Alpine milk”.

In Russia ptichye moloko is both a popular candy and a famous soufflé cake. The brand was introduced in the Soviet times and is nowadays used by the companies operating the factories which produced these candies and cakes since that time. The candies are also produced in other post-Soviet states, in particular in Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova.

Review: Very light confectionaries you will likely eat a few of before realising how many you consumed as they are so tasty but not feel the impact of. You will eat more than you intend because of the nice taste and texture. There is the distinct flavour of vanilla which was surprising as ‘vanilla’ has become a byword for ‘bland’ as things claiming to be vanilla flavoured often have no real taste at all. The chocolate coating is thin and crisp but still enough you can taste the chocolate rather than it being like a brittle, tasteless, sugar coating as is the case with many other confectionaries. The chocolate melts in the mouth so I do wonder what condition these would be in if you left them in a hot environment. The texture of the marshmallow is quite dense when compared to the sort of marshmallows you buy in a bag (usually coloured pastel pink and white) but is still quite springy in texture. Even though the marshmallow is dense the confectionaries themselves are exceptionally light so you will not feel burdened by the consumption of them. It is all about the flavour with them, as it should be with all confectionaries, not about a short lived sense of a full stomach or having a sugar rush as a substitute for eating a proper meal as is often the case when people snack instead of dine during the day.

There are 3 columns of 6 making for 18 pieces on each of the tray adding up to a total of 36 pieces all together in the box. The ‘new method’ they brag of that preserves the taste is basically cling film over a plastic carton within the cardboard casing. They are kept ‘fresh’ and in excellent condition by this but it seems odd to brag about it… that is probably why the inside of the lid is not translated into English as it is such a ludicrous boast to make.

I find Polish chocolates to be of a high quality, having often bought jeżyki chocolate bars in the past, and there is a certain sense of nostalgia in the taste of them as they no doubt use ingredient choices and techniques which have gone from the Western confectionary production industry for one reason or another. I highly recommend them as a fantastic alternative to the over saturated and growingly homogenised main brand chocolates we are growing all too willing to impulse buy due to brand recognition alone.

They don’t translate everything on the packaging but the few bits I had to attempt a translation of, so they sounded similar in tone to the English language equivalents by their competitors, are just the generic packaging boasts you will find on any number of products and all the key important information is printed clearly in English.

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Nutritional information: Wiesz co jesz – sprawdż GDA*:

Wartość odżywcza/Nutrition Information \ %GDA* w/per 10,6g \GDA* \ 100g \ 1 ostka/cube ~10,6g
Wartość energetycczna / Energy 2,4% 8400kJ 1842kJ 195kJ
2000kcal 440kcal 47kcal
Tłuszcz / Fat 3,3% 70g 22g 2,3g
W tym kwasy tłuszczowe nasycone / of which saturates 7,5% 20g 14g 1,5g
Weglowodany / Carbohydrates 2,3% 260g 58g 6,1g
W tym cukry / of which sugars 5,7% 90g 48g 5,1g
Białko / Protein 0,6% 50g 2,6g 0,3g
Sól / Salt <0,2% 6g 0,06g 0,01g
Produkt zaweira 36 x ~ 10,6g. / Product contains 36 x ~ 10,6g.

*GDA – Referencyjna wartość spożycia dla przeciętnej osoby dorosłej (8 400 kJ / 2 000kcal). Indywidualne zapotrzebowanie na energię i skladniki odżywcze może być wżsże lub niższe w zależności od płci, weiku, wysiłku fizycznego i innych czynników.

*Reference intake of an average adult (8 400 kJ / 2 000 kcal). Personal requirements for energy and nutrients may vary depending on age, sex, physical activity and other factors.

Ptasie Mleczko Waniliowe. Delikatna Pianka w Czekoldzie.

Skałdniki: Czekdolada deserowa 28% (Cukier, Miazga kakaowa, Tłuszcz kakaowy, Tłuszcz mleczny, Emulgatory: lectyna sojowa i E 476, Aromat), Cukier, Syrop glukozowy, Masło, Mieko zagęszczone słodzone, Roztwór cukru inwertowanego, Białko jaja w proszku, Substancja zelująca (agar), Regulator kwasowości (kwas cytrynowy), Substancja konserwująca (E202), Aromat, Naturalny aromat waniliowy. Czekolada deserowa: masa kakaowa minimum 47%

Ingredients: Dark chocolate 28% (Sugar, Cocoa mass, Cocoa butter, Milk fat,

Emulsifiers: soya lecithin and E476, Flavouring), Sugar, Glucose syrup, Butter, Sweetened condensed milk, Invert sugar solution, Dried egg white, Gelling agent, (agar), Acidity regulator (citric acid), Perservative (E202), Flavouring, Natural vanilla flavouring.Dark chocolate: cocoa solids 47% minimum.

CONTAINS MILK, EGG, SOYA. MAY CONTAIN PEANUTS, NUTS, CEREALS.

ZAWIERA MLEKO, JAJA, SOJĘ, MOŻE ZAWIERAĆ ORZECHY ARACHIDOWE, ORZECHY, ZBOŻA.

marka ptasie mleczko została stworzona w latach 30 tych xx wieku przez Jana Wedla i obecnie jest chroniona na terytorium Unii Europejskiej na rzecz LOTTE Wedel sp. z o.o. jako słowny znak towarowy
[Translation: The Ptasie mleczko brand was created in the 1930s, by John Wedel, and is now protected in the European Union for Lotte Wedel Sp. z oo as a trademark.]

Najlepiej spożyć przed: data na boku kartonika./ Best before: See side of box
LOTTE Wedel sp. z o.o.
Ul. Zamoyskiego 28/30
03-801 Warszawa
Polska/Poland
http://www.wedel.pl;
http://www.czekolada.pl
http://www.ptasiemleczko.pl/site/

Warto porozmawiać – Infolinia konsumencka [Translation: Customer Hotline]: 801 811 011 **
**Opłata według tary lokalnej. Only for Poland


I received these as a gift from a colleague a while ago but only now got around to reviewing finally. They are very good, give them a go. Many thanks Anna! 🙂

As a sign of my appreciation, and support of her work, I ask you to please visit the following site she has recently launched. It contains a number of venues to visit around Wales, and other parts of Britain, so even if you don’t speak Polish at least you can see the pictures, click on the links (which go to English language pages), stick the information in a translator and get some ideas of places to visit:

Polski? Proszę odwiedź:

Smok Walijski

Also here are some other links to other blogs that might be of interest:

[Polish language]: https://annawwalii.wordpress.com/
[English language]: https://annainwales.wordpress.com/


… and one day there will be reviews of some Jeżyki chocolate bars or selected works of Dorota Masłowska. But that will be a long time from now. One post a week is the standard for now although it would have been a good idea to prepare a number of posts so I could have done a ‘Polish Week’ of a post per day and got them all out of the way. Then I could do a Russian Week! Welsh Week! French Week! American Week! etc, etc and so on… but its just a lot of effort for one person unlike teams that run websites and can combine their efforts.

Comment, like or follow me – all are welcome 🙂

Zubrowka – Bison Grass Vodka

£18 from Marks and Spencer

Vodka of Poland

Bisongrass Vodka

Flavoured with an extract of the Bison grass blade, the fragrant herb beloved by the European Bison

40% vol

0,5l

Bisongrass vodka Premium Zubrovka Vodka of Poland

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In Polish it is called Zubrowka but on the bottle its spelt zubrokva. The Polish ‘w’ is pronounced like a ‘v’ so it’s probably just a translation convention as it s bottled in Germany and for the British market so foreigners don’t look like idiots when talking about it and get flak from some pretentious bigot who learnt how to pronounce it just so they could rub it in people’s faces and act as if they are more learned (pronounced learn’ed of course to confirm their pretentiousness). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%BBubr%C3%B3wka

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What is bison grass? Is it actually grass? No. It’s a herb. Hierochloe odorata or Anthoxanthum nitens, also known as sweet grass, holy grass (UK), manna grass, Mary’s grass, seneca grass or vanilla grass, is an aromatic herb native to northern Eurasia and North America. In Poland it is known as bison grass. It is used in herbal medicine and in the production of distilled beverages(e.g., Żubrówka, Wisent). It owes its distinctive sweet scent to the presence of coumarin. This variety of buffalo is different from the species of grass commonly known as ‘buffalo’ ( ’Stenotaphrum Secundatum ’) in Australia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hierochloe_odorata

On the side of the bottle is a measure of how much is left as if there is some need to be certain of how much you have left. Consumption of another person’s alcohol is a serious matter though I think due to the pale yellow colouration of the fluid and the clear glass of the bottle most people prone to marking the content levels would be satisfied using a marker on the bottle. The bottle is quite unique and no doubt drove up the production costs needlessly compared to other bottles of zubrowka I’ve seen online afterwards.

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It has a nice spicy aroma but quite a kick. However I haven’t drunk spirits for a while so my palate may have gone cold turkey in the passage of time. Due to the burning effect I cannot really comment on the taste right now. Its umami. It smells like paint thinner. (At which point I was beginning to come down with a cold and so my taste buds went into ‘closed for the season’ mode.)

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… Okay so I return to it after a week with a cold and so give reviewing it another go. Swill it around my mouth. Much nicer. Stings the tip of my tongue. Maybe I have been biting the tip of my tongue recently. I accidentally bit the inside of my cheek a few days ago… I take another break before continuing.

I am later reliably informed by a Polish associate that to truly drink this it is essential to drink it with apple juice:

“Zubrowka MUST be drank with apple juice. These two were meant to be together forever and every Pole knows it, and some Brits know it too now, and you’ve just joined the company. They are like yin&yang, Wales&sheep…”

So using some Tesco 100% pressed apple juice I shall try it this cocktail of flavours to experience zubrowka in it’s truest form!

WOOHOO good stuff! Not in the way that alco-pop and WKD try to completely eliminate the taste of the alcohol but instead this cocktail leaves a remaining ‘sense’ of the wodka’s taste and instead, acceptably, takes away the edge of the ‘burning’ effect when it was served neat. Need to be careful of how much to drink as it is 40% proof. ‘But it goes down so easy?’ you say. No, no, you must temper yourself young stallion for this is the way of the dark side and the first step in becoming a stereotype like the ‘tired and emotional’ Boris Yeltsin who could not get off a plane when stopping over in Ireland in September 1994. Get the buzz, maintain the buzz, but do not give into the temptation of thinking drinking more immediately will indefinitely increase the buzz! Resist becoming so numb you forget yourself.

Of course at this point it is important to note Polish wódka, Russian vodka and Ukrainian horilka are not ‘all interchangeable and basically the same apart from where they were made’. Oh no, no, no… never say that… Not unless you want a lecture about who came up with it first and how the others are just inferior versions of one another (and even then not accounting for the Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Czech variants)! That is like saying all Whiskey is the same… well except Jack Daniels which is actually bourbon but got around to being called a whiskey for one reason or another due to Tennessee laws definitions of what whiskey is.

Good stuff but the price is higher than many of the other vodkas on the shelves locally… Likely because it is a ‘premium zubrowka’, the cost of export and it’s unique selling point as ‘bison grass flavoured’ as there are not many other bison grass flavoured vodkas, if any, available at local British supermarkets. Unfortunately this makes it too big an investment for casual consumers, used to paying about half that for vodkas, to risk trying it straight off the shelf without prior knowledge (Unless they are prone to wanting to try random things like myself). It was good to try but there are other things to taste so I shall just chalk it up with the following summary: An interesting taste and worth trying but the next time I go to M&S I won’t be rushing to see if they have it in stock unfortunately (unlike the plum flavoured sake I adored and bought two bottles at a time until they stopped stocking it!). I would definitely try it again though given a chance and if offered it would be very glad to taste it once more… preferably with a good apple juice of course.

On a side note I know that the Oddka brand vodka do a ‘grass flavour’ of their range and had looked at the bottle previously to see if that was bison grass flavour but I don’t remember there being any information regarding it except it was ‘grass flavour’ which was overly vague. Perhaps somewhere down the line I shall try that one and review it as I believe it is only about £8 a bottle since it is British produce.

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Vodka of Poland
GRASOVKA
Bisongrass Vodka
The Original Polish Vodka-Speciality

Flavoured with the extract of the Bison grass blade, a grass which is particularly valued by the bisons living in the forest of Eastern Poland.

Only genuine with the blade of Bison grass in every bottle, giving Grasovka its unique and spicy aroma.

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http://www.grasovka.com
Produced in Poand.
Bottled in Germany.
Diversa Spezialitäten GmbH, D-47493 Rheinberg


Well I was away for a few days, weeks, whatever… had a cold and work things that needed to be prioritised.

The whole ‘list the information off the packaging’ thing I usually do has been intergrated a bit better in this post, I think, but then many of the past few posts were just to keep the blog going. It seems to be becoming a food and drink review blog unintentionally. Well you know what they say ‘life is what happens while you’re making plans’ and I guess the same applies to blogging too…

An interesting fact I discovered was that Żubrówka is the name of the fictional country in The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Next time hopefully some theatre reviews.