PURO Q&A: Ania Włodarczyk / Strawberries from Poland
Ania Włodarczyk* is a writer, a cook, and a photographer - in various proportions - keen on travelling around the world, but equally enthusiastic about the depths of history. Her blog - Strawberries from Poland – is a place where she saves old recipes (promoting vintage cooking), antiquated objects and atmospheric nooks of Tricity from falling into oblivion. Her 2-year-old son, Olek, is doing his best to make sure his mom stays in the present and accompanies her in pursuits of new tastes and uptown paths. In the near future, Ania is going to share her discoveries in a new PURO MAG cycle. For now, however, let’s let Ania take us on a trip around her home town, Gdańsk, and a quick stroll around her … suitcase.
I experience a city…
…on my feet. Whenever I visit a new city, I walk a lot in search of places where the life of locals thrives – markets, tiny bars, street shops. It’s the best way to get to really get to know any city, its atmosphere, its pace of life, and its residents.
When I want to meet people…
I take a ride on a city bus or – a slightly advanced version – I take my backpack and go on a journey without my car. That’s how I travelled Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan – if you want to meet new people, there’s no better way to do that than to hop on an intercity bus or a marshrutka.
When I seek silence…
I seek nature. A forest about half an hour away from my house, the regions of Kashubia and secluded beaches are my favorite and trusted places.
Whenever I can. I’ve always been doing it. And since I became a mom, I’ve been taking walks „legally”, free from any second thoughts. I need to take a child for a walk, don’t I? I find no better excuse for long daily strolls. My first year of motherhood was the best – I used to take 10-kilometer walks every day. Now, my son prefers to walk on his own, so we take slow walks, but in a carefully chosen scenery. I already know every snail, flower and stone in my neighborhood.
My favorite city discoveries are the time-worn ones – dilapidated, neglected buildings, old wall inscriptions, a secret stairway with beautiful, historic tiles. Most often I will come across them by accident, during some aimless walk. A different group of city gems is represented by an ice cream parlor with an interior design that remembers the Communist era, a bakery with croissants bringing childhood memories, and a shack with delicious shashliks.
I find treasures…
As a lover of old objects, I have my favorite junk shops in Gdańsk, where you can have various jewels for basically nothing. One of them is „Emalia” in Gdańsk Wrzeszcz with its pink walls full of real treasure trove. Every year I also visit St. Dominic’s Fair – an event gathering antique (and junk) dealers from all over the country. Actually, that’s where my most valuable treasures come from, incuding dessert cups from the 1920s, an earthenware spice set or old photographs of sad-eyed strangers.
The taste of a city…
I describe it literally, even though I believe you could find a more metaphorical way of doint it. To me, the taste of a city lies in its atmosphere, people, etc. In my opinion, every city has its own taste, a taste my mind can reach through memories. Tel Aviv tastes like coffee with cardamom; Reykjavik – one of the recent destinations – tastes like Skyr, an Icelandic creamy yoghurt; Przasnysz – a city where I was born – tastes like my mom’s yeast cake with crumble topping; and finally Gdańsk – the taste of Gdańsk is the most difficult to pin down because it takes on so many different flavors every day…
Things I always have on me…
My smartphone, which I use for taking pictures, and a bottle of running water, occasionally with a hint of lemon juice.
A must-have item in my suitcase…
A moka pot! Wherever I am. Otherwise, I would find it really difficult to start my day without a cup of my favorite coffee. Also, I like to brew coffee in unconventional settings. It’s like a sport – I’ve already done it at a barbeque in Kashubia (with no electrcity), on a Baltic beach, Icelandic fiords, and a patio in Israel.
*Ania Włodarczyk – Gdańsk citizen by choice – since 2007 sharing her passion for writing, cooking, and photography on her blog Strawberries from Poland. Her articles about cooking are featured in magazines and on websites. She is a collector of old cookbooks actively engaged in food photography. Her second book is "Kuchnia retro".