15 January 2008

O, Tyskie / Winter in Wrocław

As usual I can't recall where we were exactly but something keeps telling me it was Wrocław. The photo above shakes a few things loose in my head. Wrocław was once described as “the holy blossom of Europe, a beautiful gem among cities”, and has always been a bone of contention, changing hands many times throughout its long history. In the past, Wrocław has belonged to Poles, Czechs, Austrians, Hungarians and Germans. Settlers here have included Walloons, Jews, Italians and Ruthenians. The mixture of many different religions and cultures, while troublesome at times, has also contributed a lot to the city. Wrocław lies in the middle of the Silesian Lowland, where the Odra River branches out to form twelve separate islands. The city is spanned by more than 100 bridges. From above, Wrocław looks like a city on the water. Wrocław comprises five boroughs (dzielnice): Fabryczna ("Industrial"), Krzyki ("Shouts"), Psie Pole ("Dog Field"), Stare Miasto ("Old Town") and Śródmieście ("City Center").

Winter in Wrocław is no joke. The cobblestone streets turn to glaciers of slick steel like the basketball court at MSG morphs into an ice rink with the push of a button. The door of our tour bus had frozen open. Powered by some sort of vacuum air hinge, the compressed gases inside the valves had frozen and the door had to be opened and closed manually, leaving room for the harsh winds of the Silesian Lowland to sneak in and stay awhile. There was no traction to be found. The ice rendered grip useless. Our mouths were steam engines. We were served sauerkraut soup and some sort of potato and pickle thing. Or maybe it was cabbage and beets. There were groats and leeks, black pepper, bay leaves, caraway seeds and dill. A meal fit for Guy Fawkes. Halfway through my meal I decided to start collecting teas. After dinner I walked to a small store on the corner and picked out a few that looked good and that I thought I'd never find in New York. Names like Vitax and Flosana weren't what I was expected, however. Suppose the sun rises and sets on the Tata / Tetley empire. I threw a few boxes into the pockets of my cold coat and made the Farley Mowat treck back to the venue as quickly and as carefully as I could. The vision of me slipping and cracking my head open on a thick piece of Grunwaldzki ice had me terrified. And did you know Alois Alzheimer was from Wrocław. Alois discovered Alzheimer's Disease. And speaking of which I'm going to forget why I opened a new entry if I
don't get to my point soon.

From the venue that night I liberated a true, tall Tyskie pint glass. Not like a glass you'd buy at a souvenir shop but an honest to goodness, used at the pub to serve thirsty Poles, Tyskie pint glass. It was enormous. Must have been 7 1/2 inches tall. And it held a drink like nobody's business. I'm a thirsty guy and without a tall glass I turn into Gunga Din constantly making trips to the kitchen for more aquatics. But with the genuine tall Tyskie pint pub glass I could enjoy a frosty beverage without worrying about running out.

Well one day I dropped my Tyskie glass. I was distracted. By a woman. And with my eyes on her I dropped my Tyskie glass and it shattered into a million pieces on my kitchen floor. Things ain't been the same since. With the woman or without my Tyskie stein.

Tyskie is Poland's beer. It is manufactured in Tychy by the Kompania Piwowarska company. The brewery was founded in 1629 and is said to have produced beer constantly ever since.
Gronie continuous a centuries’ long tradition of beer brewing at Tychy, dating back to 17th century. Gronie’s enthusiasts appreciate most of all its mild hop aroma, golden colour and the thick, white head. This beer’s exquisite taste and aroma excel among Polish beers of similar type. A lot of -wicz hockey players come from Tychy. They make beer and FIATS there. Tychy is about 20 km south of Katowice.

So if ever you're in Tychy, Katowice, Wroclaw or Warsaw and you happen upon a pub that beams its beacon light and calls you in for a tall pour of cold Tyskie, swipe one of them pint glasses, wrap it in yesterdays Nowy Dziennik and mail it home to me, will ya?

Poland Punx Love The Tyskie

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