Recent articles in Polish Radio Dla Zagranicy (http://www.thenews.pl/1/12/Artykul/142724,Poles-losing-taste-for-vodka) and Krakow Post (http://www.krakowpost.com/article/6868) got me thinking about change in Poland.
The latter tells the tale of a swish new restaurant that has opened in suburban Krakow, all designer chairs and lights, and continental food. The Post comments that the restaurant “sits next to traditional rural cottages, complete with head-scarf wearing grand- mothers sitting in their doorways”.
The former article explains that total sales of vodka in Poland were down a significant 5% in the first half of this year (don’t panic, that’s still over €1b) whilst wine sales continue to rise and beer retains its no.1 spot in the alcoholic beverages market, which it achieved after the fall of Communism.
Poland is changing, of course (in case anyone hadn’t told you). And I admit my first reaction when I see a smart new eatery put down roots is one of pleasure: another great place to eat! (not that Krakow’s short of a few…).
At the same time, I have a couple of niggles – maybe more than niggles. The first is the incongruity the Post talks of when these new edifices of steel and glass spring up next to some old block in which Poles have lived for some while. I suppose it’s progress, but as I ask in Polska Dotty, what on earth do the head-scarf wearing grandmother brigade make of it all?
Secondly, and again as I’ve pointed out before, it’d be a great pity if Poland threw the baby out with the bathwater. That is, allowed modernity to impact on its wealth of old buildings and traditions. I don’t have great fears about this: Poland strikes me as a country well aware, and proud of, its past – and in any case the bureaucracy often still required in Poland to get things done should slow the pace of any unwanted demolition.
So, for now, I guess I’ll just gorge myself on some nouvelle cuisine in some chrome and mirrors nouveau restaurant on my next trip to Poland – and not worry about it too much. But I do think Poland should manage carefully its continuing and rapid transformation, and decide, for example, if it really wants the likes of a glass pyramid on the Wawel castle mount. Now there’s an idea…