Beyond Borders: Celebrating at the Table with Polish Traditions

This season of One Book, One Chicago, we explore Beyond Borders, and one of the best ways to explore culture is through food.

Given Poland's geographic location as the crossroads of many trade routes, various dishes have been introduced from other nations and fused with Polish cuisine. This has given Poland a rich, cultural (and culinary) mosaic, dating back to both its Latin and Byzantine Heritage.

1830 marks the first record of Polish immigrants arriving in the Chicago area. Since that arrival, people of Polish descent have contributed much to the culture and building of communities in this area. The winter holidays are celebrated by diverse groups within the Polish communities, including the traditional Wigilia (Vigil) supper, held on the evening of December 24, and Chanukah (or Hanukkah), Feast of Dedication, beginning the twenty-fifth of Kislev, occurring in December or late November. Feeling a culinary adventure on the horizon? Here's a shortlist of some of the many cookbooks available for checkout. Many include detailed information not only about the recipe's history but their significance and symbolism. Smacznego! Enjoy!

The "new" Jewish Holiday Cookbook

The "new" Jewish Holiday Cookbook is an engaging work providing wonderful recipes which include culinary traditions from different Jewish cultures, and also the history of each holiday. The comprehensive glossary of ingredients, and illustrations will gives both the novice and experienced cook the tools to create exceptional and flavorful dishes.


Reading through many cookbooks, you may discover recipes from regions unfamiliar to you. Poland, a Lonely Planet Guide, provides an introduction to many areas in this diverse country along with details about its environs and maps. 

Polish Chicago

Polish Chicago: Our History, Our Recipes provides an exceptional overview of Polish immigrant history throughout the Chicago area. Providing detailed information on many communities in the Chicago area, it includes photographs of historical significance and many well known contributors to Polish communities and the City of Chicago. Along with celebrating these events, recipes for classic Polish dishes, provided by everyday people are interspersed among this historical journey. 

Polish Classic Recipes

Beautifully illustrated with photographs, and providing the history of these classic recipes, Laura and Peter Zeranski have created a culinary journey providing easy to follow recipes, featuring the rich traditions of this diverse and complex culture.

Polish Cooking

Polish Cooking is a wonderful culinary journey for many who remember sitting at the kitchen table and watching the "Pros" of the family turn out delicacies with no cookbook, but from memory, a passed down recipe by heart, from the heart. Learn about traditions and classic recipes which will provide you the the necessary tools to create these delicious treats.


Gretchen Kalwinski, writer, editor, and content creator, has written a personal reflection: The Polish Christmas Feast That Helped Me Find Home. It's a tradition which goes to the heart.

Please reconnect and share with friends and family