Warsawa (Var(d(roll that r))shava) I
Thanks to a few of my good friends in Poland, I am beyond delighted to say that Warsaw, Poland holds a very special place in my heart. I don’t know how many people know ****-all about Poland outside of what we learned in school… but I tell you – if you don’t and you don’t want to get out and eat what the Polish eat and see what the Polish see – you are missing out severely my closed-minded “friend.” Let’s face it – I’ve brought it up numerous times, and I’ll bring it up again: musicians have an amazing job – they travel the world essentially for free and have hours upon hours of spare time to see and eat the world. I’ve met more touring guys who hate being overseas than love it; who hate the food overseas; who could care less about the ways of life of the people around the world who make it possible for them to do what they do (and take that for granted). It pains me to think of these kinds of people. If you have a mindset like that… we probably aren’t friends and probably won’t be. You’re probably a picky, finicky, know-it-all, jaded prick anyways. Me? I know you only live once… life is short – live that shit!
I met Robert years back through Paolo, when we were touring with Iron Maiden. Robert is a devout Maiden-fan who travels pretty much all around the world to see them play. We supported Maiden back in ’06 and I guess sorta converted Robert into a Trivium-fan as well. We’d run into each other here and there around the globe as he travelled out to our shows – and keep in sparse touch. Well – one day, I found out we had a 2-3 day drive after our Warsaw show to get into Sweden. I wasn’t stoked on that… I mentioned to Robert that I was considering flying early to Sweden, to which he said: “You should stay in Poland!”
I’m far more adventurous and social than I used to be. Dare I say that I may have been on the path to becoming one of the aforementioned kinds of jaded-musicians that I nowadays despise so much… thankfully – I saw the light. The light of food. So the plan was that I would stay at Robert’s pad for those days, eat, sightsee, hangout with friends, then meet up with the bus in Sweden via a flight (and not a hell drive). I don’t know if in every case globally that it’s a great idea to stay in someone’s home who you didn’t really know that well… but this time I lucked out.
First things first. It was show day in Warsaw (a headlining show, still on the way up to meeting the In Flames headlining tour) and it was lunch time. Robert did invite the rest of the band to stay in Warsaw only to be greeted by a unanimous “no” – but I was keen. Paolo, Robert, and I all went to lunch in the old town square. Bazyliszek was our lunch spot. Tyskie beer to start. I’ve previously mentioned how Czech beer is considered to be one of the greatest beers on earth. For me? I say Polish tops Czech. I love Polish beer. I don’t know how to describe in perfect accuracy what it is exactly that Polish pilsners do so differently in comparison to it’s German and Czech counterparts… but I can tell you that I like it better than the others. It’s drinkability surpasses German beers by a long-shot – and I typically always want a German beer.
The obligatory bread came out first; zurek (sour barley soup with smoked bacon, seasoned with grated horseradish, served with egg and white sausage) followed. Zurek is an insanely Polish dish. Everyone knows zurek in Poland. The sourness is of a similar characteristic to things like sauerkraut and pickled cabbage and pickles (there are a lot of sour flavors in Poland) the chopped egg and chopped sausage and bacon within add nice textural treats in the broth – delectable soup I must say. Pierogis are very Polish as well. Kind of like Poland’s version of gyoza or an empanada even. We had meat, cabbage and mushroom, and cheese and potato – all served with bacon cracklings. It’s hard not to eat all of them yourself. Pierogis, like all things in dumpling-form – is something I always get quite ravenous about.
The other style of food that gets me hot and bothered? To quote Anthony Bourdain: Meat in tube form. A platter of Polish sausages served with sauerkraut and mustard was our main. Blood sausage you say? Oh my god yes. Sound creepy to you? Don’t think of the name – just try it. If you like sausage and sausage breakfast-patties – you will like this. Yeah, it’s a little iron-y… but you’re a mammal – your steak had blood running through and around it – let’s eat the isolated source! It’s freaking good!
From here – it was time to head back to the venue in Warsaw to meet up with another one of our long-time friends from Poland: Magdalena. Magdalena – to say the least – is an artist. Her painting skills when I first met her were near-legendary… nowadays? She’s progressed so much to a point that I am convinced in a few more years of honing her skills – she will be one of the only modern-day painters who paints like the classical-greats. She’s that good.
We heard about her back in the day due to her renditions of Trivium band members. At the show, she brought along her mother (a big Trivium fan as well!), sister, boyfriend, and a few others. Magda soon presented the four of us with her newest creation: updated paintings of the Trivium boys in their In Waves garbs. Impeccable. She even nailed Nick’s classic… uh… Nick look. Ha!
The first time we played Warsaw, I think 80 kids showed up. That night? 1,000 kids. Sold out show. Incredible. My Polish keeps getting better too. It’s gotta be all that Polish alcohol and food I consume.
We wrapped up an incredible show (some of the Behemoth dudes even came by!) and I was off to Robert’s for a nightcap beer with some friends and a doze to prep for my day of Warsaw the next day.