07 April 2007

Wesołych Świąt Wielkanocnych!

Happy Easter!
When I first started teaching in Buffalo, one of the hardest parts of my job was learning to pronounce the last names of my Polish students. I'd go down the list and if they ended with "-ski," I knew better than to even try to spit out all those syllables without vowels. I'd apologize and smile and they excused me, assuring me that it was a local skill that I'd acquire in time.
Yesterday I visited Buffalo's famed Broadway Market, a haven of all things Polish and Easter. I've heard for years that this indoor, urban market was de rigueur for people all over the area. Families have their own traditions for when they go get their butter lamb and placek.

Children anxiously anticipate what color they get for their yearly painted egg.

Suburbanites who wouldn't dream of entering the big, bad, scary city line up and fight for parking spaces so they can go in and elbow people who dare come between mom and her sausage. And speaking of sausage, woah, pounds and pounds of it coiled into giant piles in refrigerator cases. When we were there, the crowd had thinned from the peak morning hours, but I still heard someone say he had waited for over an hour to get just the right sausage for the family festivities. The most popular booths had been sold old for hours, but the ones that were still operating were calling out orders over microphones to teenage boys who were moving so fast, I don't see how they weren't cutting off fingers and toes as they whacked off the requested poundage, wrapped it in butcher paper and tossed the coil to another guy with knife at the ready. Not exactly like picking up Jimmy Dean's at the grocery store, that's for sure.

While we skipped the sausage, we couldn't even think about walking past the cannoli stand without indulging. My friend Rachel is a wee little mite of a girl, 5 ft tall when she's stretching, but boy oh boy does she love her food. In true foodie fashion, she gasps at bakery cases and moans over restaurant menus. Now these were no ordinary cannolis. These delectable delights required two hands and in my case, two days to consume. Rachel, however, really enjoyed her cannoli, downing a treat the size of her head in a matter of minutes. I'm guessing she went home and straight into a sugar coma, rising only to fix French toast from the challah she purchased and then back to baked-good-induced lounging.

This isn't the best picture of Rachel as we're still bundled up in our winter gear and walking around with hat hair, but you get the point, big cannoli. Ah, the joys of a white Easter...

Bread and chocolate... what could be better? After seeing the hordes carry out these loaves of placek, we had to ask what it was. Although the vendor looked at us as if we came from outer space, after all only aliens wouldn't know about placek, she took pity on us and gave us each a slice to try. I don't think I even finished chewing before I requested a loaf to take home.
The chocolates were made by a local company who hand-pours their easter bunnies and sugar eggs. Mmm... dark chocolate eggs with mocha buttercream filling...
I couldn't resist this beauty, a handpainted Russian egg. From what we could figure out, the symbolism of the designs on the eggs differs slightly between the various countries represented and each uses a different technique to paint the wooden eggs, but all were quite beautiful and unusual. Nothing like the plain ol' Paas dyed eggs of my past!

While it's hard to believe we left any food group untouched, on the way home I regretted skipping the pierogi. Although I'm not sure the prune pierogi we saw will ever make its way to my table, I think some good cheese and potato ones will warrant a return trip.
While I still can't pronounce those Polish names, I'm certain that there will be more placek in my future! Whatever your Easter tradition includes, hope you all have a good holiday weekend!


Lone Knitter said...

I love cannolis. That market looks so awesome. I would definitely get lost in it for sure. Happy Easter.

marisa said...

mmmmmm.......loooks soooooo gooood... :D