There are many kinds of establishment in which to eat and drink in Poland. In some of them the food is very ordinary, just okay, but at least they are honest in their advertising.
Some places are real dives, but you know what you are going to get.
Others send out surprisingly mixed messages.
Kraków is of course famous for its fusion cuisine
and for its cutting-edge experimental fare.
This is in part a legacy of the communist era. A common tactic of quotidian anti-Stalinist resistance was to embrace empty formalism over socialist realism, claiming an ultra-modernist approach to all aspects of social and cultural life.
Another tradition left over from that era is the underground drinking establishment, typically little more than a cellar or pit stocked with potato vodka, raisin jack and moonshine. What once was hidden can now proudly be declared, including such establishments’ frequent ties to organised crime – and related health problems.
There are other kinds of drinking establishment, though.
When it comes to groceries, many local stores are bigger than they look from the outside.
But there are also some depressing trends. For example, in Nova Huta, once a Stalinist workers’ paradise, and later a centre of anti-Stalinist resistance, there stood an amazing cinema.
Now, you guessed it, it’s a fucking Tesco local.