The Cultural Shock of International Recipes


My first trip outside the country was my first trip to Poland, the Heart of Europe. I had just started my second year of college, when I decided to enroll a students’ NGO, in an effort to set the premises for a promising career in Copy-writing. None of the two happened per se.

First, because my obsessive rambling about foreign countries and cultures during the selection interview (which was actually meant to highlight my belonging to an internationally driven NGO), blinked in the interviewer’s mind like he had just discovered the American dream. So he/she decided I belong in the “visit a foreign country” pile. Second, because at the moment I am nowhere near a Copy-writing career, nor do I see myself so, in the future.

This is how I accidentally landed in a plane that flew me all the short way to Poland. I was actually looking forward to visit another country and discover its culture, which was supposed to be enlightening. And it was, to some extents, because here, in the Heart of Europe, I mastered the art of the Polish mashed potato recipe. The Polish landmark, in terms of cooking, has declared itself the country king. Little did I know about that when, at my first Polish meal, I asked for bread. Because it was missing, obviously. Poor child. Did she not know potato is the new bread? It comes in all sorts of forms and textures, like mashed, or… mashed. Certainly, potato was the topping of every Polish recipe. It still is, in fact, because potato is the country king in Poland. Every single meal was accompanied by Polish mashed potatoes. And this would not have happened without the successful re-branding of the potato

Fortunately, I did not develop any intolerance to starch, nor did I became allergic to potatoes. I did take a break from this plant, though, for like two months, the same length of my internship.

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