Came back to BCN from Poland recently. What a contrast from Warsaw´s vast socialist avenues to Barcelona´s Gothic winding streets. From neverending green parks to crowds. From ´Milk Bars´serving Polish staples in a clean, no-nonsense atmosphere - just go to the window with your ticket and a middle-age lady in a white apron will quickly and unsmilingly ladle your soup - to the dirty, loud tavernas that are around the corner, where you wave down the waiter and where the tables are sticky with spilled wine and sweat.
It´s decompression time now. We´ve been moving non-stop for two weeks. Grandma´s for breakfast, then the city for day, back for dinner and some talking, strong black current digestives to help with the oily, potato-y and meaty food we´ve been trying everywhere (Bruno´s favorite was surprisingly the bigos!) . Then driving up north to see more family and to understand the countryside. Biking, walking, mushroom picking, helping in the orchard and dealing with small towns during big holidays and the polish driving!
Now it´s time to take it slower and to digest the information we´ve been absorbing. But we´ve still got to eat! Feed the brain to make sure we remember everything and make our smart plans. The first day back we went to the Boqueria, the refrigerator was so emtpy!! Good thing we thought to bring some Polish bread with us or our first breakfast would have been olives and a bit of dried cheese. Needless to say that the market was as lively and overwhelming as ever. So many beautiful piles and pyramids and stacks of lovely greens and fruits and vegetables. Quite different from the markets in Warsaw where the farmers sell from the back of their trucks.
We made our way through the aisles, dodging old ladies with their carts (they´ll run you over without looking back!) and the puddles underneath, all the time with our eyes peeled for good prices and fresh produce. In the end the choices were easy, we needed staples. Some fruits, tomatoes, onions, an inspired choice, homage to where we had just been, a cabbage! And then back to some things we had missed, a nice big salted cod! Backpack loaded we headed home.
The trick with salted cod is that you have to soak it in water for 24 hours so that it re-hydrates and doesn´t taste so salty (change the water several times). But first cut it into some nice fillets or it wont fit in the bowl.
And, the next day, when we were ready for dinner we made Portugese bigos!
First look through the filets you´ve soaked and pick out the thin and oddly shaped pieces. Put them in a pan of water and bring to a boil, cook. Save the fish broth for tomorow´s fish soup but cool the cooked fish in cold water. Pick off the skin and take out the bones breaking the fish into small bits. It´s good slimey fun! Put aside.
Chop half an onion, a tooth of garlic and some ginger. Throw into a pan with some hot oil. Add white wine and sautee quickly adding a quarter of a cabagge (chopped). Turn the heat down and don´t get distracted (that´s how I burnt it the first time around). After the cabagge has cooked but is still crisp add the fish along with lemon juice, a bit of vinegar, olive oil, salt and some sugar. During dinner we decided a sliced apple would have been nice too.
The bigos is pale and green and summery, serve with white wine.