Feature Friday: Kasia Pi
Kasia Pilitowska hosts both a breakfast and dinner almost weekly in Krakow, Poland with a beautiful view. She is involved in the community with the Najedzeni Festival and her restaurant Hummus Amamamusi. To view her upcoming meals visit her cook profile.
What does food mean to you?
It’s a joy of sharing with others what’s the best and sharing your knowledge.
How did you learn to cook? Was cooking always a part of your life?
I’m a child of canteens. Even though I used to spend time with my mom and grandma while they were cooking, it was a hard time of empty shelves of the 70s and food coupons of the 80s. I started to cook when I began my journeys around the world because it turned out that what connects people is food. And that food knows no borders. I also discovered new flavours, smells, spices, and ways of preparing different dishes. I became a vegetarian and, paradoxically, my culinary world expanded again. Instead of potato boredom I started having on my table forgotten groats, vegetables and other plants. Today when I read a recipe I know how the dish tastes like and what I would change in it.
What do you like the most about hosting?
Discovering new things- that always enriches. And I love talking, listening to everyday stories, adventures, family stories, it’s like the best movie!
What is the most unforgettable meal you have ever had?
It was in Georgia. We were invited to a big party to celebrate the end of the grape harvest in a tiny village. As we all know, Georgians are amazingly hospitable so for them it was very important to host us like kings and queens. Men were already sitting at the table and we were between them. The women, after all day of cooking, were bringing the food. The dishes were appearing on the table on dozens of plates, there was a heavy smell of spices, herbs and fried meat. And those colours, eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, pomegranate seeds, coriander, mint, parsley. A culinary orgy. The flavours of the feast sunk deep into my memory. After that I was looking for recipes, talking to Georgian women, watching movies back in Poland. I was trying to recreate what I ate but using also Polish products. It really enriched my cooking.
A favorite memory from hosting an Eataway meal?
For my first dinner a woman signed who wanted to make a birthday surprise for her husband. She told him to wear elegant clothes, buy a great wine, and come to my home at 19:00, he didn’t expect anything. When she came, she took his hand and lead him to my kitchen. He was speechless and amazed. At the end he said it was one of the best birthdays in his life. Isn’t it beautiful?
What is one ingredient you always have in your house?
Thyme and cumin. And lemons.
What is your family's favorite thing you cook for them?
Soups, especially French vichyssoise made from leeks and potatoes with addition of white wine, and orange-carrot soup. „Pierogi leniwe” with a lot of bread crumbs and also tajin that I was taught how to make by women in Morocco.
What is something interesting about your country's food culture?
Groats and their variety, and legumes. It’s great that currently we are experiencing a renaissance of forgotten dishes made from groats and that we can creatively recreate old recipes and modify them into modern plates. I can tell you in secret that neither rice nor pasta is on the list of my favorite products.
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Pearl barley with butter and parsley with a little bit of fresh black pepper.
If you could invite 3 people in the universe to one of your meals, who would you choose?
Otto Lenghi, Elana Arzan and Julia Child.
The funniest or most interesting thing that has happened while you have been hosting an Eataway meal?
It’s always fun. It’s amazing to be able to observe people who completely don’t know one another and after two hours become close friends. They joke, exchange phone numbers, information about their cities, they schedule meetings for coffee or just go out and party together. This is what i like, to unite people at the table and outside of it.
Funniest cooking story?
I made ice-creams. Unfortunately, they froze completely in the freezer. I warmed them up so they pretended to be a chalva sauce for the cake. To my surprise, everyone called it the best in the world. Now I make sauce, not ice cream.
Your table is full of travelers, what 3 things do you suggest they do in Krakow?
To throw away the guidebook and go meet people. And then sit with them at the table. That’s why I love Couchsurfing.
Who is your favorite Eataway cook to visit on nights you're not cooking?
It’s a difficult question because my heart beats faster when i hear the words "India” and "the Middle East”. The word "Turkey” also makes me feel my cheeks flushed. But now I’m waiting for cooks from the former Soviet Union.
What is your cooking style like? Do you listen to music, plan ahead, make a mess, etc…
I listen to funk music, drink good wine. I like tidiness. I have to have everything prepared earlier, products and tools. But even though I plan, for example, 5 dishes, I always make two times more because I keep having new ideas that I want to try out immediately. And I talk to myself. I reprimand myself when something goes wrong. I say "Kaśka, think about something better!”. I clean after every phase of cooking, I make breaks for a strong tea and then I go out to my balcony and watch little towers of the Wawel Castle and beautiful medieval St. Katarzyna church. There’s something in it that makes me feel like that Kaśka watches over my cooking.
What do you do other than cook for Eataway? (Occupation, family, etc..)
I’m a journalist and a PR expert. I created the first culinary festival in Kraków and I’ve been organizing it for 3 years. I run culinary workshops, organize cultural events. I help in a dog shelter in Harbutowice and organize the collection of food and money for this place. Informally, I give culinary tours around Krakow. I show not only places with good food, but also with history, which you won’t find in guidebooks.
What is your favorite food?
Good cheese and good wine.
How did you learn about Eataway?
A friend from Warsaw wrote to me "Kaśka, you will finally be able to cook for people in your beautiful kitchen!” and that’s how it started.
What does Eataway mean to you?
Beautiful moments at a common table.
What would you tell a potential cook that is nervous about hosting a meal?
If you love to cook, others will love you and your food.