Between vegetarians and bricks

Last week I was talking to a good friend about a topic that has been on the spotlight for many years now: is it necessary to eat meat to live? There are many opinions, variables to consider, but the scientific community has not yet reached a consensus. What is undeniable is that flesh has played a fundamental role throughout the history of mankind, consolidating a food model that is far from ideal. There we all agree.

Today I woke up playful and want to be a bit naughty: is it necessary to eat meat to enjoy a tasty meal? Flatly no. And as I don’t like to speak without evidence, without arguments, I will accompany you to Dobra Karma, a must stop for anyone who suffers when a calf goes to the slaughterhouse or simply prefers to eat healthier products and with less impact on the environment.

Brick walls, books everywhere and a piano. Do you need anything else to enjoy a good meal

Menu

-Black beer Litovel (Czech Republic) with chocolate liqueur

-Potato and cheese pierogi with caramelized onion

-Cucumber, onion, garlic, mushrooms and tomato pizza


It’s difficult to describe Dobra Karma. In fact, the first impression is that it’s not a real restaurant. The gray, sober facade, is not exactly encouraging. But everything changes once inside, where we find one of the places with more personality that I remember. The wooden floor gives way to some walls where a totally bare brick predominates, without any unnecessary flourish or element. Only some shelves with dozens of books break this doctrine.

Space’s configuration is another of the points to highlight, as it gives the impression that Dobra Karma is an old two-story house refurbished to a restaurant. The enormous amount of walls is a good example of it, to the point that it’s not uncommon to miss some of the rooms if you don’t explore a little bit; as if it were a mazed museum of innumerable lounges. The presence of a grand piano remembers someone was living there in the past, someone whose presence is still felt.

Now it’s a beautiful restaurant with a lot of rooms, but in the past it was a real home

It looks like that an important part of the restaurant income comes from a regular and consolidated clientele. It’s two o’clock on Wednesday afternoon and the place is crowded. People arrive, look at the board to confirm that their favorite dish is still on the menu, ask at the counter and sit down. It works like this until four o’clock.

There’re all kind of diners, from young students —probably from the music conservatory, which is really close— to neatly dressed executives with English as their main language. This gives a slight idea of how good the place is.

All kind of people come to Dobra Karma to have lunch, from young students to neatly dressed executives

We are not inspired, so we gladly accept chef’s recommendations. The first surprise comes with the drink, as Czech beers predominate over Polish brands as popular as Warka or Zywiec. I don’t think it’s a bad option at all, considering how close we are to cities like Ostrava and how much Czechs know about beer —they drink more than germans or belgians, for example—. We choose a black Litovel, perhaps too strong for a meal. The waiter recommends adding a splash of chocolate liquor; “it’s the most popular,” he says. We agree and verify that he doesn’t lie.

Litovel, a very well know Czech brand beer, is always a good choice

After a twenty minute wait that seems an eternity, here comes the pierogi. They are considerably larger than the ones I had previously tried, which makes them even more appetizing. Once in mouth, it’s confirmed that the chef has been generous with the filling, which looks like a mix between potato and cheese. They are soft, creamy, but at the same time dense and blunt. The onion, essential to give them a sweet spot, is well caramelized. I wouldn’t mind eating these pierogi every day, although I probably don’t need more than three or four to get completely full up.

Even without meat inside, pierogi are blunt and have a soft and creamy texture

Good sensations of Pierogi moves to pizza, which has a green dough that reminds me that there will be no trace of meat. Green as the generous amount of oregano, whose characteristic aroma penetrates the nostrils and makes you feel that you are in Italy. Maybe too much. In fact, oregano and cucumbers act as kings of the track, to the point that it gives the impression that they can mask the rest of the flavors present. The doubts fade away with the first bite, which feels unusually little crunchy. The taste, however, is potent, partly because of the acidic point that cucumbers grant. This doesn’t prevent the rest of the ingredients from feeling fresh and present, with a cheese that is well above average. Generally speaking, a great pizza.

Cucumbers, something inusual in Spain, give an own personality to the pizza

Without any room left for dessert, I’m about to leave the restaurant. It’s then when I realized how comfortable I was, how calm was the environment, the homelikeness of the proposal. I go out and I miss the brick walls, the wooden floor that craks at every step, the hundreds of books arranged throughout the whole place. What I don’t miss, surprisingly, is meat.

Text and pictures by Marcos Zavala Rodríguez

But if I look at myself from outside…

There are two parts in everyone´s story.

Sometimes you must stop and think: would I cross?

The decision-making process might scare me a lot.

Because I know the other part is still solid, and maybe cold.

Try to keep the balance in the both parts.

And feel my equilibrium.

Even if I bump into a wall.

Before I came I was feeling myself in a box.

Should I go out? I couldn’t see the light in the other side.

If I had to ask myself –  my limits were making me uncomfortable.

Even before I really saw the light, I dared and stepped out.

I didn’t know, but I left with a little no-born egg in my leg.

I went with the flow, with the base of the hope.

And as I didn’t know, also I’m having some hope in my comfort zone.

Something started to grow out of my hope.

I allowed this project to become my illusion to follow.

Exciting feelings of fulfilment.

Some figurative ones… Try to understand my intention behind my behavior, my plans.

Some barrers in my way,

…It is easier to carry on if you have someone to be by your side.

This energetical project has finally grown within me.

Looking around I could see I am always in a solid, basic part of myself.

In the process I was giving color without rules

But if I look at myself from outside, maybe I have already become a different raven,

Influenced by what I am looking at.

Clara…~Oscura

Story of a breakfast in Katowice

Changes in Poland have always been as abrupt as necessary. We speak about a country whose recent history is full of complicated, really difficult moments; many of them, cruel. Its role as a currency of exchange in the last two great wars, as a geostrategic trench, has only emaciated a society hungry for freedom. Until today.

Sun begins to rise in Poland when it has long been high in other areas of Europe. And it does it hesitating, with fear. Last general election is a good example. Lots of people expected with apprehension that PIS, a far-right party that uses the much criticized universal basic income to capture a good part of its votes, win again. It’s perceived at the streets, it feels. The return to a kind of sweetened communism.

And it’s precisely that communist era which has greatly influenced the way of thinking of Polish. Also their habits and customs. An obvious example, while surprising, are their meal times. As I have checkede after talking with dozens of natives, it’s normal to work from eight in the morning to four in the afternoon without a lunch break. Some of them even say they don’t have breakfast, leaving dinner as the only real meal of the day.

This is why, recently, a new wave of restaurants has begun to emerge with the goal of encourage people to go out to eat and have a good time with friends and family. That’s the case of Zielnik Krystynki, a charming and cozy bistro located a few minutes from the center of Katowice that endorses that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”.

Zielnik’s entrance, simple and elegant, is a small sample of what we will find inside

Menu

-Orange juice and americano

-Carrot, apple and ginger juice

-Chorizo, spinach and ricotta omelette with mixed greens, homemade bread and butter

-Tosta con huevos escalfados, beicon, vegetales variados y mayonesa de cebollino


The first thing that catches your eye once inside the Zielnik Krystynki is its warm and quiet atmosphere, a small oasis where you can take refuge from the almost polar cold and the hustle and bustle of Monday morning. Agata, the owner, is waiting for us. I perceive inmediately that she’s of those people who speak all the time, who make curiosity their way of life, who have a smile tattooed on their face regardless of whether it rains or is sunny inside their head.

Details, like that wooden plate clock, give a good idea of the care that has been put on the premises

As I don’t know what should I try, I ask Agata to help me. She immediately points to two dishes on the menu, the “top”, and offers me an orange juice and one americano to enjoy the waiting time. Just ten minutes later, a very kind girl whose name — unfortunately — I no longer remember carefully poses two dishes worthy of being called “spring” on the table. Vivid, vibrant, tasty colors. Agata sits next to me and suggests we share that culinary festival. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy a good meal than with good company.

Americano and orange juice, the basis of any breakfast worthy of the name

We started with the omelette, which gives me an already regular feeling of nostalgia as soon as I try it. It’s not easy to find good chorizo in Poland, so being able to enjoy its flavor as it would be done in Spain —with a pair of eggs— is certainly priceless. The ricotta provides a smooth, silky texture, and the spinach gives the freshness of a summer morning in the mountains of Madrid. The bread, baked every morning at the place, puts the icing on the cake.

Chorizo, spinach and ricotta omelette has become one of the most popular dishes

Between bites, Agata tells me about the difficult situation that restaurants are going through and expresses his fear about Sunday’s election, which will be a key in the incipient modernization process the country faces since the nineties. She also tells me about the years she spent in Vienna, where she took many influences. I ask her about the business, why she decided to begin in such an ungrateful world. She admits, laughing, that it was a matter of boredorm because her other bistro, Krystynka wraca z Wiednia, didn’t occupy all her time. Now, three years after Zielnik’s opnening, she still reproaches his past self for the lack of empathy with his present self.

Without realizing it, we have finished the omelette, so Agata invites me to try the next dish, which works like a kind of trompe-l’oeil : what at first looks like a huge mozzarella cheese ball, crowning a caprese toast, it soon reveals itself as one of the largest poached eggs I’ve seen in a long time. The sensation in the mouth is that you are eating a strange but delicious amalgam of English and Mediterranean breakfast, since the bacon and salad are not usually the best friends —leaving hamburgers aside—. On the other hand, chive mayonnaise makes the bread remind me of a Spanish typical dessert called torrija: very juicy and wet.

What at first looked like a huge mozzarella ball turned out to be a delicious poached egg

Once we finished, Agata stares at me and asks the question that every Galician grandmother has ever asked her granddaughter or grandson sometime: “Would you like more?”. After promising and swearing several times that there is no space inside me to house a piece of the many appetizing cakes that rest behind the bar’s window, I agree to try one of her juices. He gets up from the chair with his everlasting smile still shining on his face, and soon comes back with a glass overflowing with an orange mussel that intrigues me. “Carrot with apple and ginger,” she says, almost whispering. I never thought those three words could conjugate so well. Bitter, sweet; soft, strong; refreshing, spicy. An explosion of flavors that change with every sip. The Zielnik does not stop surprising me.

Carrot, apple and ginger juice crowned the morning with a mixture of really interesting flavors

Grateful and tremendously satisfied, I say goodbye to Agata and open the door. A gust of icy air hits me, like telling me that my time has not yet come, that I should stay a little more there. Going outside means leaving a bubble to get into another, the Polish one, which I would never want to leave. Happiness had never been so obvious, so simple. So clear.

Text and pictures by Marcos Zavala Rodríguez

My visit to Auschwitz.

From the first day i arrived in Poland i planned to make a mandatory stop: Auschwitz.

As a volunteer interested in politics and the history of each country, I decided to make a visit that has absolutely nothing to do with the entertainment.

In my country, Spain, we have a saying: “The mistakes that are not remembered are doomed to repeat thetime.”

We are all children of our history and must learn from it, with all the consequences that it entails. From my point of view, to escape our past is to try to forget what human beings have been able to do.

We must acknowledge our mistakes and accept them, to continue working for a peaceful world.

“This place, where the Nazis exterminated a million and a half men, women and children; most of them Jews from several countries in Europe. Always be a cry of despair for humanity and a sign for our future lives” A message from one of thehalf- spanish prisioners.

It was really emotional to visit one of the nerve centers of the Shoah. I’ve tried to be as honorable and respectful of photographs as possible.

I was in a place were the Jewish people and the other prisioners were murdered by nazis. Honor and respect to the place is absolutely necessary.

Thank you very much for letting me share with you these little lines. It is always an honor to worship peace, coexistence and multiculturalism.

I would like to share with you a small personal poem, which I have translated from Spanish (I hope it is worth it in English):

“The phoenix from the underworld was burned, and from his ashes arose a cross of bent arms, which we look at without fear, because our star, my star… is David’s”.


That’s all for now. I hope that the next time you read me you can read more saturated things of beauty and good vibes.

David Veira.

One Week With Special Pupils in Rabka Mountain

As I said special pupils, yes they are. We were 19 people including 2 teacher. Ewa and Dorota who are old but crazy and have a full of energy.15 disabled pupils except Jeanne from France and me Müberra from Turkey.

First when we arrived to Rabka I was a bit disappointed.I was expecting there will be full of snow. But welcome to “Global Warming”. I’m so sorry about this situation. But it is also another topic.

Our pupils don’t know how to speak English and some of them even unable to speak. Somehow they have a big heart. Thanks to teachers, translate and body language we can understand eachother.

We didn’t have enough snow but we had activity for each day.

We visitted Zakopane.

The Tatra Museum in Zakopane.

The Train Museum.

I tried ski first time. It was enjoyable.

Then we went to Thermal swimming pool.

We walked around in Rabka.

We rented local horse cart to visit the Rabka.

We had a party and we have fun a lot.

It was such a big and good experience  for us. I can emphatize with them and also their family. I really appreciate with Ewa and Dorota they never get tired or bored. They are such a good example for us, therefore we learned how we can be patient, calm but at the same time energic . I’m so happy to spend all week with them.

Müberra Polat

Who is Peter from Peters´ school?

My name is Ane I´m 25 years old and I´m an infant education teacher. I did a master about Neurophysiology and Education and in my practice I discover the world of special needs that was really interesting for me and necessary If you want to fight for the real inclusion in the school and adapt your intervention to all the pupils bringing the right to have a high-quality education.

  I decided to do an European Voluntary Service because I wanted to live a long experience with special needs pupils and learn more about a new culture abroad and alternative methodologies. So finally, I decided to came to Poland to school number 30. This school is usually called Peters´ school. The English teacher Peter is the tutor of volunteers. I´m supporting there with other volunteers, Clara and Joaquin, and Peter is the person who helps us understand the school life, pupils point of view and does everything that is possible to have a great experience professionally and personally.

When I applied for the project, Peter asked permission to contact me to my receiving association in Poland and he started to prepare me for what my experience at school is going to be. He was clear at all times. He loves his job and he has a special relationship with the pupils but is not easy work and you had to adapt yourself every time because the educational proposal rarely go as expected.

School number 30 is a public special needs school and there are 123 pupils of the age of 6 to 21. There are 3 different floors. In the first floor the smallest pupils, in the second, the pupils who has a medium disability and the last one is the autistic floor. There are pupils with different situations and conditions, hyperactivity, down syndrome, autism, epilepsy, behavioural disorder… He spoke also about the orphanage that is close to the school. There are a lot of pupil who live there and they suffer some crisis derived from his parents’ neglect. So, he told that the volunteers give to the school more life, the pupils can imagine more world than the school and the orphanage, they can feel that they are important for a moment and they can receive love.  Peter always gives a lot of value to the work of the volunteer and every day he thanks us for whatever miserable thing we do.

I arrived the 31th of august with Clara, the other Spanish volunteer. Peter came to the airport to welcome us with sweets and juice. He came on Saturday that is his free day and he helped us with everything that we needed. All the process of our experience is in the school webpage there you can see all the amazing videos that he is creating and all of the words of thanks that he posts frequently: https://sites.google.com/site/sempolowskasosnowiec/programy-i-projekty/erasmus-3rd-edition-1

Peter inspire us to suggest activities and he believes in us usually more than we do.

Dance lessons that I prepared
English lessons with the first and second grade
English lessons with the first and second grade where they draw in their way my face
Learning about the animals names in English playing games

Always in special days like teachers’ day, Halloween, Christmas… We have a special place in the school and we enjoy a lot.

Teachers´day event and elegant pupils and teachers
Halloween day with our fan pupil Tomek

Peter gave me the opportunity to become Santa Claus that is a custom that is mostly worn by a boy. But for him was not a problem and we broke the stereotype, the pupils´ reaction was amazing. Also, we did a presentation about the Christmas in our country and he respected and encouraged us to speak about our own regions: Basque Country and Galicia that is important for our identity.

During our presentation and preparing the costume for Santas´Day

In the same time, we are not always with Peter, he spoke with the other teachers who at first were afraid of us because of the language barrier. Now we support also other teachers and is really interesting because we are looking other ways to work and the different interventions: speech therapy, biofeedback, autistic common room activities, we take part in art lessons with amazing Lily…. At the beginning was hard because we didn’t understand the other teachers but now we have a special relation with the school workers and although sometimes we don’t understand each other they are trying to explain in other ways and we are improving a little bit our polish.

Cooking in the autistic common room with Adam, Oscar, Patrick and Natalia
Art lessons with Lily
Oscar and Adam experimenting with dough and analyzing through the senses
Peters´ beautiful picture

I want to finish telling that as is evident in the photo that Peter created, he is always posting good words in the webpage, but not only this, always when we leave the school he says thank you to us and If he can’t because we are with another teacher and we or he had to leave the school he sends us a message or a funny video saying thank you. 

We have been already five months here and I can feel how I´m growing up personally and professionally but mostly I feel gratitude and admiration that I met this kind of people.

 Peter, you are amazing! thanks to teachers like you the world is better every day. And I know that he is reading this because I tell him a little lie saying that I need help to correct my English mistakes, he is also helping me to improve my horrible English. You are so kind! Thank you Peter 😉

Joaquín, Clara, Big Pit, Peter and me on Joaquíns last day after winter holidays

Ane Beitia Ruiz

My ESC story

undefined

Shortly, I am misho Korshia, and I am coming from Georgia – the country , My 10 months volunteering mobility at Active women association is running so I decided to share my experience with you. it is my first time I when am writing an article about my lpast experience.First I want to tell you a little bit about myself.I graduated from Ilia State University. I have a bachelor’s degree in law.When I was in Georgia I was actively involved in various activities.I was a member of YOUTH NGOs and involved in many YOUTH projects.I also have experience working with students and schoolchildren.I’ve been a volunteer in Georgia for about five years.
My project started in May 2019 in Poland,Katowice.I work as a volunteer teacher of English at school,I also teach the children the Georgian language.During the week I have four lessons,For the another school days, I am actively involved in everyday school life.We have a lot of schoolchildren at school,After the lessons when we have free time in the yard we play different fun games with kids.There is another volunteer at the school besides me,he teaches children Spanish.
My daily life starts at 9am.I live in Sosnowiec This is a town near Katowice where my school is.
I need about 20 minutes to get to school. My first lesson starts at 12:00.
The reason I joined the active women association volunteers’ team was more connected to my professional development.
I remember well when I arrived in Poland the second month after the project started I had welocome training in Warsaw.The training was very interesting, I met a lot of new people at the training,We have daily contact with each other.Seven months after the project began, I had a second training mid.term in Torun that was more about sharing experiences with one another.During my stay in Poland, I visited various countries in Europe, Most probably I would choose the Czech Republic, Prague.
Poland is really friendly country.I especially love Polish cuisine.my favorite Polish dish is “Jourek” ,If you come to Poland you should definitely try this dish it’s really delicious.
We are 12 volunteers in total, Three from Georgia, one from France, one from Turkey and seven from Spain. I already have many friends in Poland and not only here.
Finally, I would like to point out that this project is a new experience for me that helps me to develop myself.
We have meeting once a week in the office,Where we discuss last week and talk about future plans.

How to engage children to Georgian lesson with the help of Culinary

When you’re going to another country to live it’s a little bit stressful, because of new culture, new people, and new language. It’s more stressful when you work with kids, who don’t speak your language and you need to think about different activities, where they can engage, where you get to know them slowly and they get to know you and your culture.

I wanted to introduce them Georgian culinary, so decided to cook with them The very Georgian Food, “Khachapuri”- the bread with the cheese inside (to be honest it was also my first time cooking it alone). At first I was nervous that the kids won’t be interested to join, but when I started cooking they got so interested about this new food that never heard before, they joined instantly. During the cooking, they were asking me questions, if you can eat Khachapuri everywhere in Georgia, if we cook it very often in our homes…

The main thing was how it would taste, as I mentioned I cooked it alone for the first time, but surprisingly it was very good, had the real Georgian taste. Kids and teachers loved it so much, that they asked for recipes. I’ll definitely cook it again with them while I’m in Poland.

As everyone knows, culinary is very important part for every culture and apparently great way to engage kids, doesn’t matter what age they are.

Ana Kikabidze

SOSNOWIEC´S EXPERIENCE

After five months, now is the moment to say good bye to one of the best experience of my life. Living out of my country, knowing new people, knowing new cities around Europe and facing new challenges made me enriching as a person and they also made me understand that fears and limits are just beliefs whose are created inside of a confort zone and we can overcome them outside of this zone.

It was a real challenge for me to adapt myself at school where I have been developing my tasks as a volunteer, due to Spanish/polish language barrier specially. But I realised step by step that apart from verbal communication it is also important the use of non-verbal communication in order to transmit kindness, respect, humility, goodness or confidence; some values that don´t understand about languages but they are some part of the example that I wanted putting across toward people around my along this experience.

The example is not the most important way to influence others, it´s the only one.

Sosnowiec is not the most beautiful city in Poland, nor in which more social life you will be able to find but both my colleagues and I have felt very welcome at all times by the coordination organization “Active Women Association” and also by the schools participating in the project. It has also been important for us to maintain a good coexistence which each person contributes the best of himself for the good of the group. In this sense I believe that more than a group of volunteers, we are a group of friends living a new experience and I think that creating that connection´s group is very important to build an enriching experience for all members of the group.

Sosnowiec, Katowice, Krakow, Wroclaw, Warsaw, Zakopane, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Kiev; they have been the places where I have walked during this experience and in which I have been able to live unforgettable moments. In those places I have met wonderful people with I hope and wish to continue maintaining contact in the future. Thank´s to everyone !!

If we were made to stay in only one place forever we would have roots instead feet.

Joaquín Castro Navarro

A WEEKEND (ALONE?) IN WROCLAW

I travelled by myself for the first time last year . That trip lasted eighteen days around 10 cities in Europe included Krakow, Auswitch and Warsow in Poland. When I finished that amazing experience I swore to myself to do this kind of trip again.

Effectively I did it again (this time only three days :p) and this time in one of the most beautiful cities in Poland, Wroclaw.

It`s Friday and my bus go out at 4 pm from Katowice, I arrive to the bus station ten minutes before but surprisingly the bus is delayed, unfortunately two hours delayed (well this is the worst thing that happened to me in whole trip, so actually this was great).

Before I arrive to Wroclaw, my expectations about the city was high because many people recommended me to visit the city of gnomes (I will tell you that story forward) and the city didn´t disappoint me.

The main day of the trip was on Saturday. How not I started the day than taking part in a Spanish Free Tour in order to know more about the history of Wroclaw. We were a little “spanish army” composed by more than twenty spanish people and we all together spent more than two hours walking around the city.

Did you know that Wroclaw belonged to German Empire until 1918, when finished the first world war? After the first world war, Germany was obligated to leave the Silesian region (south west of Poland) in favor of Poland, but unfortunately several years before to the second world war, Nazi Germany recovered that territory again and after that, whole Poland suffered one of the worst periods of its history until 1945. In 1945 took place two agreements in Yalta and Postdam, as a consequence Poland got all Silesian region again and more than five hundred thousand german people were obligated to move to Germany. Then many polish people from some regions moved to Silesia, specially Wroclaw, with the goal to repopulate the territory. Do you guess what that mean? All the city was full of nazi and german symbols that new people took care to remove and  to start a new period without german traces. The bad thing was the communist Russia took the control of Poland until 1980, then finally Poland got the independence of the country.

Where is the story of the gnomes? Wait, wait… There I go! In 1981 social movement called “orange alternative”  was born in Wroclaw, whose symbol was a gnome with an orange hat and one flower, that movement was created as a protest against communist regime.

In 2001 the mayor of Wroclaw put the first gnome figure as commemoration of that movement and actually there are more than 250 gnomes around the city now.

I think, somehow it is necessary to understand the history of Poland to get to know the life style of polish people and the search of their own identity after so much years under control of other hands.

Fortunately, in that free tour I had the opportunity to learnt this kind of things and also met new people. Then, I joined to them for a lunch in a traditional polish restaurant and shared some drinks at night as well. This city has a lot of young people and plenty night life!!

By the way! It was very curious for me the fact of seeing how the lamplighter turned on the gas lampposts at street, an old job that began in XIX century and nowadays the city take care still.

After all I can say that was a great small trip where I got to learn more about the polish history and culture and moreover I was lucky to meet new amazing people who I spent a very grateful time.

Joaquín Castro Navarro