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Eleventh: Feeding Pilgrims

2016-07-29


World Youth Day brings lots of emotions, meetings, joy, wandering around the city – and a need to refuel calories. We have checked how and where a pilgrim can eat using their meal tickets. We have randomly chosen a few restaurants and food & drink zones and asked pilgrims for their opinions.

How eating in restaurants works

American Streetz Barbecue. A huge queue goes out the doors, but is efficiently moving to the counter. We are welcomed by a poster with a wide range of menu items but at the counter, we are told that we can only buy beef burgers with cola – for two 10 zl tickets. It makes distribution of food more efficient. You need to spend only 5-10 minutes in the queue, and the meal waiting time is around 15 min. Waitresses bring the food for a large number of people at once. The food was worth waiting for – the burgers were very filling and came with a side of fresh vegetables. You can meet pilgrims from different countries there.

“Yesterday, we ate dumplings with meet in one of the food & drink zones. Today, we chose this place because it is American, but I prefer Polish dishes. There is not enough sitting space in the premises but that is because there is large number of pilgrims here.” Geng Chuen Bosco from Hong Kong said.

In Obieżyświat restaurant, there is a lot of people but nobody waits in the queue longer than 10 minutes. And waiting time for meal is around 5 minutes. Service is efficient, the food is tasty. Unfortunately – prices are quite high.

“I think the prices are too high, last week they were much lower. I prefer to buy food in other outdoor food and drink zones. Here, I need to pay 3 meal tickets for dinner,” said Maria de los Angeles Ribos from Argentina.

“Today I ordered a chicken with mozzarella and tomatoes. The food is good but the prices are inadequate for pilgrims. Last week the prices were much more affordable. Meal tickets for 35 PLN is not enough for lunch and dinner at this restaurant. For pilgrims, I recommend the outdoor food court. The staff is nice and the food is good and cheap,” added Dawid Hesler.

Lunch Bar Wolański was praised by WYD volunteer Kamil Zygmunt. “I was here yesterday and I came today as well. I am already treated like regular customer! I rate this place very well. I had a large pizza yesterday, today I will maybe get a chicken filet or a meal set.”

“A burger with chips is the most popular. The simplest international dishes are a “safe” option for people who want to make sure they will eat enough. For them, Polish names are very enigmatic so they prefer to order something they know,” says Magda Wolańska of Lunch Bar Wolański.

“Usually after one person has chosen something, the others will take the same. If you ask me about nationalities, there are many French people here. They probably have their accommodation somewhere nearby. Also, lots of Portuguese speaking people come. Yesterday, we had large group of Indians. There is always someone in the group who can speak English and we speak English as well, so there is no problem with communication. We are a family business with a domestic atmosphere, my mum is able to speak with anyone using hand gestures! We are busiest around 1:00. This is lunch time and free time between catechesis and evening events. I think that meal tickets are very handy and fast. You don’t need to exchange cash. There is no delay caused by the use of unfamiliar currency, searching for a certain face value. There are only two types of meal tickets and that is why it is all simple and fast,” she adds.

A picnic version

Most food & drink zones can be found near the Wisła river and other green areas where pilgrims can sit down with their food and rest in the shade. In a food & drink zone near Wawel, next to ul. Bernardyńska, is not too crowded. The longest queue is to get pizza. Masses of people come but they are served quickly and leave. Most groups came when there were masses in nearby churches.

You can mostly eat instant dishes in the zones – for example Mexican dishes or red bean stew (fasolka po bretońsku). The choices are limited, unlike in restaurants. A majority of international people decide to buy what they already know: chips, pizza, or hot-dogs. But Elena from Mexico is very curious to try Polish dishes. She thinks they are tasty, but she doesn’t withhold that Mexican cuisine is totally different and has more different flavours.

Pilgrims more eagerly use food and beverages zones than restaurants. The reason is simple – it is faster and cheaper.
The food & drink zone in Błonia has a good opinion among pilgrims.

“Here, everything is well organised, staff are friendly, I wouldn’t change anything here. Only the prices could be lower because meal tickets need to last the whole day,” said Jessica Recine from France.

“I think the food & drink zones are very well organized, they are easily accessible, there are no problems. I have only waited a short time for my food and staff were very friendly. The food is good and prices are not too high. I can get enough food just using meal tickets,” Cezary Nicałek shares his opinion.

There are two food & drink zones next to Cracovia Stadium

“Our zone works well, though we are a bit hidden here, behind Cracovia,” said Kamil Greń, servicing the food & drink zone near Cracovia. “That is why we go out onto the street and invite people in.”

Pilgrims gladly come to this zone because they can get food that is healthier than fast-food. There is lasagna with spinach on the menu, tortellini with spinach, Polish żurek (sour rye soup), meatballs with barley and vegetables or couscous.

“There is a nice atmosphere, music, a green lawn, and lots of space to sit down and rest peacefully,” Kamil Greń adds. “Yesterday, after mass, we had huge crowd here. After the pilgrims ate, they danced and had fun and the party lasted til midnight!”

Also, there is no problem with the language barrier, though some pilgrims from Asia have to  communicate using hand gestures. The meals are served quickly because there are many service stations. In the zone, you can pay using meal tickets, credit cards, and tokens, which can be purchased in the zone. It is effective prevention against theft.

“It was tasty but expensive. We didn’t purchase a package with meal tickets, but simply have some cash allotted for food,” Paula McVerry and Perle Leahy from Ireland said. “We have to exchange money for tokens and only then can we exchange tokens for food. It is unnecessarily complicated, it would be easier to just pay in złotys (Polish currency). 6 tokens bought for 40 zloty gave us a cheeseburger and 2 drinks. But on a stand with Belgial chips, you could eat deliciously for a small amount of money. Here you can get simple and tasty food. Nothing extravagant, but fine for pilgrims. And it is faster than standing in the queues to restaurants. Yesterday evening, our friends were standing in a huge queue to a restaurant, but today they came here to a food zone and got lasagna and shish kebabs straight away. We haven’t tried any Polish food yet. But we want to try it. In this zone, meals like pizza, chips, etc. dominate and we slightly lacking in typical Polish food.”

In a second zone near Cracovia Stadium, there are more meal choices. French and American burgers, Mexican paella. A long, white tent catches our attention. There, you can eat things like: pasta with spinach and vegetables, vegetarian couscous, and something for those who cannot eat fried food – beef meatballs. However, pilgrims mostly chose lasagna with tomatoes and spinach.

“I prefer to eat my national dishes. I ate at KFC yesterday, because I have been trying food in different places,” Marie Odjegoroz from Nigeria, who studies medicine in Hungary, tells us. “Here I got my food straight away, I didn’t need to wait in a queue,” she adds.

“I came here because I cannot eat fried dishes and here I found boiled food. I was here yesterday and I had very tasty meatballs with barley,” a satisfied Michalina Waszkiewicz from Poznań tells us. “Also, I choose healthy food, which I can find here. I get dishes fast and in large quantities,” Michalina adds with a smile.

Karolina Zawiślak, Martyna Kozakiewicz, Alicja Przewłocka, Andżelika Golicz
Photo: Raphael Pereira

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