Ever wanted to go to Poland?
Well, you can. It’s on the #10 bus line.
It won’t take you to Krakow but it will drop you at My Polish Food Market, 6208 Eastern Avenue in the Bayview neighborhood. The store is crammed floor-to-ceiling with every kind of Polish foodstuff you can imagine—cucumber pickles, pickled mushrooms, fish pastes, noodles, bread, cookies, sausage—even Galaretka, or Polish jell-o.
Everything is imported from Poland except the fresh goods—bread, with comes from a Polish bakery in New York City, some of the cheese, also from NYC, and the sausage, which hails from Chicago, itself home to a formidable Polish community.There is also a freezer full of plump pierogi, the Polish version of ravioli, stuffed with cheese or onion or potato and sometimes all three.
Malgorzata Bondyra , who owns and runs the store, was born in Poland and moved to the U.S. 16 years ago, and she quickly found that the Polish communities in cities up and down the East coast will drive just about any distance to get their hands on their favorite foods from home.
“Most of my customers come from the Baltimore area but I draw from everywhere, Washington, Virginia, Pennsylvania,” she says. “And people call from different states.”
Her biggest sellers with Polish natives are pickles, soup mixes, pierogis and black turnip extract—a digestive aid. Americans, we like the sweet stuff, like her line of flavored syrups—blackcurrant and raspberry are especially popular with Yanks, as are cookies and paczki, pastries similar to donuts.
We picked up a loaf of addictive raisin bread, which we devoured, and some soft cheese, which we savored for its smoky smoothness, delicious on a bagel or a slice of rye bread. Or the raisin bread.
We also picked up a bar of E. Wedel Soczysty Duet, milk chocolate with a creamy fruit filling which was similarly addictive.
Bondyra also runs a service for people who want to ship parcels back to Poland—clothing, toys, books, etc., and ships most of her goods throughout the United States.
And food is not the only line she sells. She also sells shampoo, soap, and over-the-counter remedies.
“I sell a little bit of everything,” she says modestly.
My Polish Food Market, 6208 Eastern Avenue, is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Fridays, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sundays, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Call 410-633-6306 for further info.