Kevin G and the Beast

The slow down at the year end got me to pull my small collection of Waitrose Food Illustrated from the shelf. Some of them are from 2006, which are Jurassic-old in magazine years. I bought the mags and hang on to them because the pages have brilliantly good writing. Andrew Jefford caught my eye even before I started paying any serious attention to wine. There was a short but sharp column called Crumbles. The column I love re-reading is Kevin Gould’s. His word processing is down-to-earth, humourous, honest but not tactless, and tactful but never ingratiating. His descriptions of products, characters and locations are vivid and loaded with delightful metaphors that get you thinking, “man, he can write”.

It’s only recently I caught on that he writes for the Guardian. I searched the backlog to see if he has been to Poland and if he had, where had he been and what had he eaten?

Was I surprised that he was packed off the Białowieża? I guess not. Prince Charles’ 2010 visit to Poland also saw a trip to the same village in the country’s eastern borders with Belarus. In winter climes, the royal visitor posed with bison at the ranch-style “zoo”.

Bison is the star attraction in Białowieża. Hard to see them in the wild. A guide who works in the park said that despite spending most of the year there, he has only seen the free-ranging fellas twice. Most, like the Prince of Wales, saw them in the zoo. Big, hunky beasts they are and quite a sight to behold.

The other attraction originating from Białowieża is the bison-grass flavoured vodka. Kevin Gould had samples of those. It’s a good quality vodka at low, low prices. The grass is said to be found only in  Białowieża and environs. Outside the zoo, stalls sell these sheafs of grass.

What Kevin Gould ate there was typical of heavy and hearty meals served to visitors. He didn’t have any bison meat, though. Was he worried that would upset the wildlife-conservation-sensitive stomachs among his constituents of readers? Bison are culled annually. In fact, the “privilege” pulling the trigger is sold to hunters. Otherwise, the park ranger would have to do the job. The flesh is sold and almost every restaurant in town has bison in some form on the menu. Most bison bigos or pierogi are mixed with pork.

If Kevin Gould were to visit Poland again, I would bundle him off to the north east, a region I’m very fond of. I’d love to see that part of the map through Kevin Gould’s eyes and stomach.

Related post: Vodka Reform.


About kitfchung

Experienced food and travel journalist based in Warsaw, Poland.
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