Travel column with a side order of agenda
You know, being on the pshitt end of the economic scale most of my life, I don't pay a whole lot of attention to travel-oriented journalism, but is this sort of thing common?
(Tribune Media Services) -- I remember a bleak time in Poland when the economy was so maddeningly out of touch with the needs of its people that anyone lucky enough to own a car would remove their windshield wipers at night and take them inside. In their command economy -- oblivious to the laws of supply and demand -- some official forgot to order wipers and consequently, they weren't for sale anywhere. Inspired by a hungry black market, thieves would work late into the night snapping them up.
Oh, thank you! Nothing's as bad as an economy out of touch with its own people, mind you.
Of course, the American economy isn't like that, nossir. That is, beyond the housing crisis, the wave of foreclosures, the skyrocketing costs of fuel and health care, and the insistence of companies to outsource every possible job that can be done on the other side of the world. Minus all that.
And that's not even mentioning the abysmal American "business" news where gleeful reports of corporate profits are featured, with the side note that another 30,000 jobs have been eliminated.
But back to Poland.
For me, eating at a "bar mleczny" -- or "milk bar" -- is an essential Polish sightseeing experience. These super-cheap cafeterias, which you'll see all over the country, are a dirt-cheap way to get a meal, and, with the right attitude, a fun cultural adventure.
In the communist era, the government subsidized the food at milk bars. The idea: to allow lowly workers to afford a meal out. The tradition continues, and today Poland still foots the bill for most of your milk-bar meal. Prices remain astoundingly low -- my bill usually comes to about $3 -- and, while communist-era fare was less than lively, today's milk-bar cuisine is tastier.
Ah. So, "government-subsidized" means crappy food, except for these days, when it's still - um - government subsidized, except the food is better. Q.E.D., or something.
At milk bars, the service is aimed at locals. You're unlikely to find an English menu.
Well! Those bastards, not speaking English!
Of course, you could always learn a few words of Polish, but why bother? It's the duty of the rest of the world to speak intelligibly, after all!
Chowing down with the locals you'll marvel at how you can still eat lunch for $3 while experiencing a little bit of nostalgia from Poland's communist days.
Whee! All the fun of the Evil Empire without the threat of nuclear conflict, or even the existential threat of an alternative economy! Those cute cuddly Communists! Just waiting for all those decades to cater to the whims of spoiled American tourists. How nice!
I repeat - is this kind of Yakov Smirnof crap typical for travel columns? "In Poland, pierogies EAT YOU! *guffaw*"