The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » Monthly - September 30, 2015
Regional and Traditional Products
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Andruty kaliskie
Andruty kaliskie—sweet and crisp cream-colored wafers—have become a symbol of the town of Kalisz in Poland’s central Wielkopolska region. The name andruty kaliskie (Kalisz wafers) has been given Protected Geographical Indication status by the European Union.

The wafers, made from wheat flour, sugar and oil and baked in a special round mold (called an andrutnik), have been sold for over 150 years in Kalisz and surrounding areas. The andruty baking tradition has survived to our times. They owe their special reputation to having been sold on Sundays and holidays at the municipal park in Kalisz. They were a favorite treat for families taking a stroll in the park.

Kalisz, a town that boasts Poland’s oldest public registers, had a mixture of nationalities and cultures from the Middle Ages onward. There is substantial evidence that andruty kaliskie reflected the intermingling of culinary habits and customs of the different ethnic and religious groups inhabiting Kalisz for centuries.

The andruty kaliskie tradition occupies an important place in the town’s history, although the etymology of the word andruty is unknown. We only know it already existed in the 18th century. The wafers were served for dessert. More detailed information about them did not appear until the mid-19th century. The production of andruty kaliskie seems to have become well established around 1850 when middle-class customs developed and the town became prosperous. Strolling in the municipal park on the Prosna River with the whole family on Sundays was a popular pastime. At about this time, andruty started being sold there to the public. This is confirmed by an oral tradition passed from generation to generation in families of bakers and local residents. This special Kalisz product also appears in written accounts as well as in old photos.

The production of andruty kaliskie was simple; with the recipe and the proper equipment the wafers could be made even in basic conditions. The most lasting proof of andruty baking are the “irons” used to produce them (also called andruciarki) dating from the 19th century. These had molds consisting of two smooth circles joined by a hinge and were initially made by blacksmiths, then also other tradesmen, for instance toolmakers.

The wafers were made in bakeries, homes, manors and also in many stores where they were also sold, though the traditional place to sell them is still Kalisz’s park.