Zapiekanka (76p)

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For each serving:

  • Half a baguette
  • 100g mushrooms
  • 50g grated cheese

Zapiekanka (plural zapiekanki) is the archetypical street food sold all over Poland. Simple, filling (with good quality bread) and tasty. A small bread stick halved and buttered, with a layer of cooked mushrooms, some grated cheese on top and then grilled.

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I fried the mushrooms well, reducing them down on a medium heat until all the water had bubbled off. Don’t worry about the pan looking too full, the volume shrinks down like magic, leaving them with a rich flavour compared to the British habit of only half-cooking mushrooms. Sprinkled with cheese and grilled until it started browning. Zapiekanki are typically topped with ketchup, but I prefer a pinch of seasoning.

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This is the most basic version. One could elaborate at will, say with onion, bacon bits or capers, though this might upset purists – the food originated during the lean years of Communist rule. Mushrooms were always cheap or free, with people scouring the woodlands for them each autumn, just as they do today in this much afforested country.

I used Tesco ‘Everyday Value’ cheese, loose mushrooms and the cheapest baguettes. The cost of the meal, including electricity and cup of tea: 76p …  a little more than I’d expected, but at least under my £1 target.


Footnote: Looking out of the window while cooking, could see a rather impressive 22⁰ degree halo round the moon this night.

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