If you ask an average Pole what he associates with the British culture you can be almost completely sure that he will name the famous 5 o’clock tea, reserved British manner of behaviour, lousy food and peculiar sense of humour.

However, since Poland joined the European Union Poles had many occasions to taste the britishness which they got to know through contacts with the rapidly growing community of Polish emigrants in the UK or by going there to find a job themselves. Quite important in this field are also the British channels on TV and sports broadcasts of the football league (Premier League) and rugby at Canal+.

When I first came to Poland at the beginning of 2006 I was surprised how many similarities there were between our nations and how much the British culture soaked to the furthest corners of the EU. I was also glad to find out how many people speak English because of the great influence that the language has on the culture. It means that more and more Poles begin to understand our island habits.

As I talked to one of my fellow countryman I realised that there are two main reasons why we visit Poland. One of them is business. I used to furtively overhear conversations of English businessmen somewhere on the bus, in the subway or in the vicinity of Rondo ONZ skyscrapers. Probably they were drawn here by the developing economy or a huge (as for the EU standards) market with 38 million potential customers. British companies, especially the IT-companies, benefited greatly from low pays and high qualifications of the Polish market workers.

The other reason, which also concerns me, is love. I met many British people who fell for Polish girls and followed them to find their luck. Polish women are beautiful, smart and elegant (just like my wife) and if at all – just a little fussy and demanding (just like my wife). They have a more traditional attitude towards their role as a woman which many modern British women lack.

British girls succumbed to the trend of partying and being ladettes which does not only mean partying hard and severe drinking but also postponing the option of starting a family. This phenomenon is not as common in Poland and chances of a girl vomiting on your shoes or starting a fight with her best friend at a party on Friday night are much smaller.

It is really hard to define the “British” culture. Great Britain is England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and all of the above have their own cuisine, accent and history. If you ask a Scotsman whether he likes England you need to be prepared for a torrent of abuse about how much the Scotsmen don’t like the English and England. It can be compared to the Silesia-Poland relationship, although I believe that the differences in the UK are of greater reach and strength. What is more, within last 20-30 years the islands became the centre of multicultural community from all over the world. The presence of many cultures contributed to creating a melting pot which made us look at our own culture in a different way. It is more probable now that an average British citizen will go out for a dinner to an Indian restaurant instead of eating a traditional fish and chips as it used to be before. Besides due to the EU immigrant wave which took place within the last seven years you are quite likely to meet and talk to a Pole, Italian or Swede at a party in London. Their presence and different views enrich our knowledge and outlook on life.

This is why I  was seriously shocked when I discovered that everything in Warsaw is so “Polish”. In UK we are separated from the rest of Europe by a 21 mile long strip of water hence maintaining our identity seems right. I never realised that Poles who live in a country neighbouring on seven countries also have a strong feeling of independence. Poles use every chance they have to celebrate their patriotism and identity and the streets are decorated with thousands of flags.

In UK all fruits and vegetables are available throughout the whole year. It is because of the import which assures us that asparagus will also be available in December. In Poland it is different – the products are mostly seasonal. You don’t need a calendar to know when you will be able to get strawberries – surely in June and when sunflower – September. This traditional lifestyle is very reviving for people who also come from historical nations. What is more, when I meet people from other countries such as Nigeria, Vietnam or France, although it is more like an exception than a rule, the lack of clear resemblance creates some sort of a bond.

Finding a British kind of entertainment in Warsaw is not hard. Many Poles know that we like drinking beer and watch sport on Saturdays. There are many pubs where the British like to hang out and if you want to chat about some serious matters such as who will win the League trophy or who will be the next person to run the English team you don’t need to look far away. Actually, pubs are not British but Irish – that’s a significant difference! I am a cricket enthusiast and sometimes I get really frustrated when two competing groups of Irishmen spoil the fun of a historical cricket play and start their own game with hockey sticks and fighting at the bar. Pubs such as Jimmy Bradley’s at Sienna, Bar Below at Marszałkowska or Champions on the ground floor of Hotel Marriott are typical British when it comes to Warsaw standards. Their interior design is typical British and they are visited by crowds of both British emigrants and tourists from the UK. However, one should always be cautious because the Polish alcohol is always strong for us, the British, so the atmosphere can get a little tense in the evenings. It is normal for us but it can ruin a promising evening for someone who just happens to be there. Unfortunately, this stereotype of the British was brought to the general attention by Polish press, especially in Kraków and Wrocław, where many Poles were shocked by how extreme the British people can party. Pubs and the pub life are, just like sport, an important aspect of the British culture. I met many British people in their locals, places where they go most often and it does not really matter where exactly their pub is located. I met my fellow countrymen in various pubs in the city and according to the regulars the most important characteristics are nice atmosphere and good beer. An example can be Wetlina next to Metro Służew and Coyote Bar in the vicinity of Plan Wilsona.

As you probably already figured out, the British love sport. Many of us play cricket in the summer. For Poles, similarly to the rest of the world, this game borders on absurd. I tried to explain its rules to my Polish family an infinite number of times but it turns out to be impossibly hard to explain how a given sports game can last five days and remain unsettled. However, in Warsaw there are at least three cricket teams who take part in an annual tournament at Promenada Country Club at ulica Romantyczna. They are: Polonia – the team created by Polish players, a team of Indian emigrants and the whole subcontinent and the team of English emigrants. From the point of view of a cricket purist the Warsaw pitch is bad, good equipment is impossible to get and yet the love for this sport made it possible, however traditional it is, to adapt it in Poland. I strongly encourage Poles to try cricket which, despite its initial weirdness, I am sure will find many enthusiasts. You spend half a day on the pitch and the other half drinking with your friends and you do all this is hot sun. After the game is finished, there is barbecue and some more beer. Can this sound discouraging? Traditional drinks should be Pimm’s and lemonade but I have never seen them in Poland. Pimm’s is a liqueur with a fruit base. It is not too strong but very refreshing, especially when you mix it with lemonade and add various fruits or – much to your surprise – some cucumber. Renting a cricket pitch costs about PLN 50 per day and you need to take care of your own equipment or sign up to the club visiting the above web site:


As I mentioned at the beginning the Isles are famous for lousy food. It seems a little bit unfair to me. The opinion on bad food shared by most Poles who lived for a shorter or longer time in the UK and with whom I talked is mostly based on the quality of food available at the supermarkets. Food served at the restaurants is a completely different thing and you could even say that the British cuisine lives its renaissance.

It is hard to find the traditional British cuisine in Warsaw though so I think that not many people really know it and the English-speaking countries are localised between hamburgers and steaks because of such American restaurants as Jeff’s or Hard Rock Café. The restaurant which is mostly associated with the United Kingdom is obviously London Steakhouse at Aleje Jerozolimskie which I visited several times. The staff do their best to represent our food so when I miss the typically British breakfast (eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, mushrooms and toasts) it is one of the few places in Warsaw where you can get it. Nevertheless, this breakfast is not what I am used to because the articles are Polish and they taste differently. Those who’d like to clog up their arteries with a serious dose of morning cholesterol are welcome to visit the emigrant pubs which also serve breakfasts and do this in a slightly better way. The truly British experience may turn out to be the newly opened local Fish and Chips at Koszykowa 30. Undoubtedly, this is a place where you can taste the dishes which are the closest to the true classic British cuisine and they are delicious. Here you can also buy the British products such as shrimp chips or chocolate bars Yorkie which are not available at Polish supermarkets.



Because the Isles became more multicultural, in a natural way so became our food. The most popular are now the Chinese and Indian cuisine. There are occasions when the British emigrants will surely go out for a curry which usually happens in the UK on Fridays and Saturdays. This is why I will recommend some restaurants of this kind even though they are not directly connected to the UK, only because they became the centre of the new British culture. It is really important that the curry is very, very spicy and that you need to drink at least two cold beers once you’re finished – that is when you can truly enjoy this marvellous cuisine. Thus, you can find us at Tandori Palace near Plac Zbawiciela, at Arti in the vicinity of Plac Zawiszy and at Bollywood Lounge at Przeskok which is my personal favourite. Indian food in Warsaw is not cheap but all the British love it.

However, nothing tastes as good as mama’s food. It’s true. I absolutely agree with this statement. For example, my mother cooks various dishes but on Sunday there is always roast meat. Ask any British person and he will confirm that Sunday roast meat is an integral part of a traditional Sunday and everyone loves it. The Sunday dinner is very simple. You roast a rather big piece of meat in the oven for an hour or two, add some potatoes and various vegetables. You baste it with gravy (in this case it is like a thickened bouillon) and it is  ready to serve. The roasts differ in the meat that is their base – usually it is beef, lamb, chicken and at the Christmas time – turkey. However, my mother specializes in sausages baked in pancake dough, toad-in-the-hole. It may sound peculiar for the Poles but these are just sausages in pancake dough and believe me or not, they are delicious.

Christopher Moore