A taste of Polish heritage

Kedleston Road campus 504x257 A taste of Polish heritage

Date posted: 29 July 2014

Food is the last remaining taste of Poland for many of the grandchildren of migrants who came to Britain in the wake of the Second World War, research at the University of Derby Buxton has revealed.

In a study of how tourism can help a community rediscover its roots, Dr Asia Alder found that the language of food - from Granny's recipes to words for favourite dishes - survives even when English has taken the place of the mother tongue.

Polish migration to the UK is nothing new: Dr Alder shows how Poles have been coming here since the Industrial Revolution, and since Poland joined the EU, their language, shops and highly-regarded work ethic have become familiar across the country.

But she has concentrated on the 1,500 Poles who came to Derby after the Second World War as the Soviet Union took control of their homeland. They established many community groups, including the Polish Air Forces Association's Dom Polski (Polish Home) on Osmaston Road in 1953 and a Community Centre on Kedleston Road.

Despite this, Polish traditions and identity began to disappear.

"Perhaps surprisingly food preparation and consumption is the strongest and often the only surviving expression of Polish identity in the third generation," said Dr Alder.

"Food and cooking recapture the memories and experiences of their childhoods."

Dr Alder, an associate lecturer in Travel and Tourism, wanted to see how 'return tourism' helps preserve a cultural identity which crosses borders.

"There is a strong link between Polish identity and visiting the homeland," she said. "All three generations of Poles see return tourism as a powerful force in the construction and maintenance of national identity."

As one interviewee put it: "Poland is family and everywhere else is holiday."

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