Only a 15 minute walk from the central point at Rynek Glowny square is the infamous “blue van” of Krakow. Unlike its white van cousin luring children in with candy, this blue version targets the late night, adult munchie crowd and brings them in from all over the city like moths to a flame. In this case, the flame happens to be searing and flavoring a delightful row of quintessential polish sausages, which is an essential food experience for all carnivores visiting Poland. For admirers of simple food done right, or for those that like to find artisans that have dedicated their professional lives to perfecting a single item, this should be on the top of your list when visiting Krakow. I was so excited to try the “best” polish sausage, according to multiple Google searches, that my wife and I ventured out on our first day in Krakow, away from the charming and romantic old town and into the somewhat unnervingly derelict section of town nestled between the tourist center and the up and coming Old Jewish Town hoping to find this Polish delight for lunch.
We walked and walked, and then walked some more despite our GPS indicating that we were standing directly at the correct address, but we couldn’t find it. I was tired from walking, I was frustrated, and I didn’t like wasting that much vacation time and energy walking around an area that looked like any rundown neighborhood from pretty much any city anywhere. We returned to the Old Town feeling defeated. Later on during our trip, with a little additional research, we eventually discovered that we couldn’t find it because it wasn’t there…yet. The “blue van” doesn’t fire up the, well, fire, and start cooking sausages until 8-8:30pm, sometimes later. Although it was now our last night, and I didn’t love the idea of walking back there in the dark, but we ventured out a second time in search of this culinary experience. What’s safety when it comes to sausage?
In true middle-aged fashion, we were the first to arrive when they opened at 8pm. There was no line – the young, late night crown where probably still at home getting ready to go out – so we each were quickly provided with a sausage plate and stood at a small table nearby to enjoy. It was exactly as I had hoped: a plastic plate, a plastic fork, a giant sausage, a little mustard, and a hard piece of bread. It was simple, delicious and perfect. There wasn’t any magical ingredient that changed the entire experience (like the herb-infused dried sausage we had in Munich), it was all about the simplicity and the execution. The char on the outside was perfectly symmetrical around the entire sausage. The “snap” when you bit into it was crisp, clean, and added another texture to the experience. It was obviously juicy, with a noticeable but not overpowering smoky flavor from being cooked directly on (and in) the dancing flame. Although I wasn’t drunk, I know good late night food when I taste it and I can’t imagine a better way to wrap up a cold night of pub crawling. I could’ve eaten at least one more, but by the time I finished mine the line had already started growing…
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