Culture & Society News Poland

Crowned European Capital of Gastronomy 2019, Krakow braces for fine dining year

Krakow, Poland – Anyone who has ever been to Krakow has already had the chance to discover the incredible quality and diversity of its cuisine. But be advised: 2019 might bring it to a whole new level, as Poland’s second largest city has been selected as European Capital of Gastronomy.

Krakow, 2019 European Capital of Gastronomic Culture

Last summer, Krakow received the title of European Capital of Gastronomic Culture for 2019, awarded for the first time by the European Academy of Gastronomy, and beating the Portuguese city of Lisbon.

This means that, as of January 1, and for the rest of the year, the former capital of Poland will showcase the know-how of its local chefs and try to conquer the hearts and stomachs of an international clientele with a wide range of events and food festivals.

Upon receiving the award, Krakow mayor Jacek Majchrowski explained that “we will organize several important events, which will be an opportunity to invite specialists and lovers of good cuisine and stars of the world’s gastronomy to Krakow. We would also like to create new projects and, next to pierogis and obwarzanek, we want to promote recipes associated with the cuisine of the royal court, the bourgeoisie and the academia of Krakow”.

On the menu: virtual cooking and Medieval recipes

Among the events that you can look forward to: an international conference on 21st century gastronomy, attended by some of the world’s most renowned chefs, will be held in August; you can also attend a “virtual cooking” session, described as a “simultaneous preparation of dishes in various restaurants, which can be followed on the internet”.

Particular emphasis will be put on traditional recipes from the Middle Ages, at the time when Krakow was the capital of Poland, and on dining traditions from the royal courts. Street food stalls will also pop up throughout the city, as a reference to ancient merchants who sold their food and products on mobile stands to townsmen on the streets.

“Do we deserve this title?”, wondered M. Majchrowski. “Certainly yes! We have good recipes, excellent products from local suppliers, and above all a nice and hospitable atmosphere. Krakow has been promoting good gastronomy for years.”

Already ranking as Poland’s most visited city, with 18 million tourists last year, Krakow doesn’t expect that many more visitors from holding the European Capital of Gastronomy title. Nevertheless, the goal is to raise awareness about Poland’s cooking traditions and recipes, among both the general public and the world’s top chefs and gastronomic experts.

The committee in charge of Krakow’s application highlighted the centuries-old strengths of the capital of Lesser Poland: “Located on important trade routes, Krakow was one of the richest cities in Europe. Its cuisine has been shaped over the centuries not only by Polish tradition, but also by German, Italian, Middle-Eastern (Jewish and Muslim) and later by French and Austro-Hungarian influences.”

“Krakow, as a gastronomic center, is second only to Warsaw in terms of size. Factors such as attachment to tradition, large number of tourists interested in Polish cuisine and access to unique products make this city one of the most important culinary destinations in Poland”.

What’s the European Academy of Gastronomy?

The European Academy of Gastronomy (AEG) was recently founded by  national academies of gastronomy from 11 EU member states (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Great-Britain, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden). Its General Secretariat is located in Warsaw.

Its President, Rafael Anson Oliart, is also the president of the Royal Spanish Academy of Gastronomy, while its secretary general, Maciej Dobrzyniecki, heads the Polish academy of Gastronomy. Its board of directors is composed of the presidents of the national academies of Belgium, France and Italy. Quite interestingly, a quick look at its website shows only two main AEG partners: LOT, the Polish national airline, and the city of Krakow itself…

Are you a gourmet yourself? Feel free to visit our food section, or to check out our latest Polish recipes, brought to you by our very own chef, Paulina Kotkowska:  Sernik, the delicious Polish cheesecake; Ryba po Grecku, Poland’s famous “Greek-style” fish which has absolutely nothing to do with Greece; or let yourself be tempted by Makowiec and Barszcz Czerwony, the respectively and equally yummy Christmas Eve poppy seed roll and beetroot soup.