Don’t get me wrong ; I’d like to state for the record that the food in Poland is wonderful . It’s easy to get fresh veggies and fruit . Easy to buy a variety of fantastic breads and sweet rolls . Lots of choice for cheesecakes and others cakes , if that’s your thing .
I’ve had mouthwatering dumplings , delicious soups , hearty pork dishes . In the old town we had Thai food and in town we had Indian food . I had great blini and ravioli-type dumplings at a Ukranian place . I especially like the sour rye-based soup with sausage called Zurek . Oh , and the Polish sausages , of course ! And mushrooms ! Don’t forget mushrooms .
But , after being here for two months I found myself dreaming of having a hamburger . There are two McDonald’s in town that I know of . I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen another Micky Ds somewhere else in the city ; and there are probably more . But , well , all power to Ray Croc and to American corporate enterprise and all that , but I wasn’t hankering for a McDonald’s burger .
There’s a high-end restaurant just up the street . It’s got an American theme . Some people dress up in blue jeans and Levi’s jacket to go there . There are two life-sized horses with western saddles outside . The menu has steaks and ” Colorado chilli ” and other stuff supposedly American but no hamburgers .
I spotted a food stand down near the cathedral with a big sign : Hamburgers , Hot Dogs , Kebab . I passed by and looked a couple of days . A guy has to scope a joint out , first , before he makes a decision . I watched hot dogs being prepared. Lots of bread — not a hotdog bun — and lots of salad and sauce in there . And then the hot dog . Looked great . Too much , even . I was getting excited . Wow !
So I thought the hamburger would be great , too . I hadn’t seen anyone order one , but I was ready to take a chance . ” Hamburger ,” I said to the girl , and the die was cast .
I waited a long time . I saw the girl put the fries in the fryer. I was patient . Good things take time . It was a nice day ; the sun was shining . Eventually she asked me about sauce . The Polish word for sauce is quite a bit like the American word for sauce . Yes , sure ; I want sauce. She dribbled three different sauces on the plate . I was ready . Finally , a hamburger and all the trimmings !
She handed me a paper plate laden with grub . The fries were hot and not greasy and plenty of them . Half of the plate was covered with shredded lettuce and shredded carrot and onion and cabbage slighty damp with just the right amount of dressing . And there on top of it all was a thin slice of what might have been the kind of breakfast sausage I used to buy every few years , thinking ( mistakenly ) that it would taste good with eggs and toast . And there was no bun .
No bun ? No bun . Do I need to say that again ? Ain’t no burger if there ain’t no bun .
The thought crossed my mind that someone should show Popeye cartoons in this part of Poland . Wimpy would show up with a stack of hamburgers . Wimpy loved hamburgers . Popeye . Popeye . Maybe that’s the answer .
Somehow , I thought , a place with a big sign ” Hamburger , Hot Dog , Kebab ” should know what a hamburger is . Somehow the concept doesn’t seem to have survived the journey across the Atlantic . No bun ? Are you kiddin’ me ? Never mind that the meat was more than a little questionable , too . Give me a bun and I’ll pretend I’ve got a real hamburger . But there was no bun .
I was so disheartened by this experience that I considered Micky Ds . In a couple of days , I admit , I broke down . I went to the one in the food court at the Giant mall . Might as well jump in with both feet . I walked up to the counter , joining the other congregants , my face raised to the sacred illuminated menu . We would all receive the holy disks , their origin a mystery , sent there from some secret location , produced according to the strict and sacred rules of the Corporate Church of the Golden Arches . I stared for a while at the images of the arches shining on the wall .
But , in the end , I was not converted . The experience left me , still , somehow, longing for something , and unfulfilled .
Hope is not all lost , though . I spotted a pub in the old town where I think they may serve hamburgers . Yes , with buns . I’m not sure but I absolutely will check it out . Maybe Ada and I will go there some afternoon for a burger . I’ll ask her , but I think I know what she’ll say . The food she prepares is better than any restaurant grub . And , she’ll be right .
I could buy her a meat grinder . No , that might be going a little too far .