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Is it possible to have nostalgia for some place that you have never been?  I just finished watching a BBC series called Michael Palin’s New Europe.  It’s a really good documentary done by one of the Monty Python boys about life in Eastern Europe in 2007.  It’s a typical travel show that is really well done, but that’s not the reason why I’m writing about it.  Any decent travel show at least touches on the local foods.  What I’ve noticed many times, especially with this series, is that when they show the traditional foods of northern Eastern Europe I get hungry and a bit homesick.  This is because that food is what I’ve always considered comfort food even though for most people it is exotic and a bit disgusting and/or disturbing.  Pickled anything, and I mean anything, gizzards, vegetables, pig’s feet, fish, just to name a few.  Headcheese, regular cheese, bread so dense that it could be used in self-defense, duck blood soup (OK, I don’t like this one, it’s too sweet, but my mom loves it), sausages, sausages, and more sausages, mushrooms, herring and other small fish. vodka (duh), cabbage in all of its glorious forms, fat in so many forms and quantities that you wonder how the whole country doesn’t drop dead from a massive heart attack, and certainly not least, horseradish.  I think you get the idea, and I’m hungry again.

As for the homesick part, I’m not sure how to describe it.  When I see the Old World where my ancestors came from, it’s the same set of emotions that I get when I drive up to visit my folks on their farm.  The sensations are almost physical in their intensity.  It is a relaxing feeling, but with the knowledge that life isn’t easier out in the country.  Simpler, yes, but not easier.  I think I’ll just stick with that for now, relaxing but with an underlying edge of uneasiness.  When these travel shows talk about the culture and the spirituality of the people, I can easily see why my family behaves as it does.  Which is probably another factor in why I get homesick.  Poles love food, hospitality, music, gatherings, all with an undercurrent of cynicism, and the more you can combine all of these, the better.  Again, this explains a lot about my family.

That’s probably enough early morning ramblings for one post, so I’ll leave you with just one more thought and some pictures!  Spirituality, specifically Catholicism, runs deep in both Polish culture and in my family.  One of Grandma Rose’s happiest days was when my cousin Thomas took his vows as a priest.  Back in 2004, he took a trip to Falkowice, Poland, where Dad’s side came from.  Here are some photos from that trip.

The correct spelling of the town.

The church in town. Reminder: my cousin is a priest.

A closer view of the church.

Up close and personal with the church. I said my cousin is a priest, right?

Some of my relation that never hopped the pond.

Downtown Falkowice.

Not sure what town this is, but the building is gorgeous!

Again, not sure where in Poland this is, but it looks very inviting.

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