Gosia Migut: “I think it’s not the skin colour, country you come from, culture and tradition what sets us apart, but the way we treat each other and the way we treat the earth.”
Gosia moved to the Netherlands when she was 19 years old to study and she was stuck with the country, in a good way. She now speaks fluent dutch, has a kid and lives her life in Amsterdam. Coming from a country (Poland) where hospitality is one of the main things, she brought that to Amsterdam and created her home there, in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
1 – How old were you when you moved to Amsterdam? What was the main reason to move?
I was 19 when I came to Amsterdam to study. I was looking for a place abroad to study and while visiting big capitals of Europe during my last high school year I fell in love with Amsterdam.
2 – What kind of cultural characteristics have you absorbed from the Netherlands?
I speak dutch fluently. I love the Calvinistic/protestant lifestyle. I enjoy their holidays like sinterklaas and carnaval. I also served beschuitjes met muisjes when I got a child. I think I’m soaked with dutch culture and mentality.
3 – Do you think your origins have influenced people around you?
To be honest, I don’t think so. I think I already had a very different mentality then common in my own country, before I came to the Netherlands. I had a mentality that is closer to the Dutch one.
One thing is maybe that I have the hospitality of a typical polish person. Meaning my house is always open to everyone and I would host dinners and parties, while my dutch friends were more reserved about it. But since I have done that, also more of my dutch friends would open their houses for spontaneous and not properly planned events.
4 – What are the biggest challenges of living in a foreign country?
I think building a strong network of people you trust and can count on is the most difficult part. But I think if I was going back to my home country I would have the same problem. So maybe it’s not so much the foreign country but the new place? And learning the language fluently is challenging but worth it, it opens a lot of doors.
5 – Name the most positive aspects of The Netherlands.
Netherlands is a very well organised country which very much suits me. The wealth is also important, it’s just easy to have a comfortable life here, with good work-private life balance. I also value the honesty of people, there is no reading in between the lines of what people mean, because they just tell you straight in your face what they mean. I love it.
6 – During this time in a foreign country what have you learned about the human being? What sets us apart from each other?
What we think about the world, how we approach it. I think it’s not the skin colour, country you come from, culture and tradition what sets us apart, but the way we treat each other and the way we treat the earth. Are we kind and understanding or pointing fingers and blaming? Are we consumers or do we contribute?
7 – What is missing in your home country that your current one has and vice versa?
People in my home country love to complain. About just everything. While Dutch people suck it up and value what they have. This is, of course, a generalisation but that is really my genuine feeling. And you can argue that Dutch have it better, but it’s not only about being wealthy. It’s this idea of putting yourself in the role of a victim all the time, which polish people do constantly. I’m missing polish pickles in Amsterdam 🙂
8 – Is there a favourite dutch dish prefer?
Ehm… pancakes? 😀
Typical dutch cuisine is maybe not very exciting, although I really like asparagus, which they make quite well. I like the international approach here and I love the Surinam kitchen, vegetarian roti being my favourite.
9 – Which stereotype doesn’t make sense about the Netherlands?
That dutch are always stoned. I don’t know any dutch person that smokes weed on the daily basis.
10 – What were your biggest fears before you moved?
I was 19 and I thought everything was possible.
11 – From a legal point of view, was the social framework easy? Do you have any advice for someone moving in?
Legally it’s easy to settle here, socially not so much. You make friends easier among expats then among dutch. But as I said earlier, speaking the language is very important. That helps to make contact with dutch people, although don’t expect more than casual beer after work.
12 – What are the greatest labor differences between Poland and The Netherlands?
The great work-private life balance in the Netherlands. In Poland people work a lot more, and they think they should, if they want to achieve something. Here the free time is valued a lot and everyone understands that you are more productive when you work less, and enjoy more. But I talk about the bubble of highly educated people….
13 – Where do you feel “at home” in Amsterdam? Is there a specific place?
In the whole city. I love the feeling when I arrive in Amsterdam from holidays and I walk out of central station (train) and I just have this feeling of belonging here. Always had it.
14 – Do you have a favourite restaurant in Amsterdam?
I have a few. I love Nelis in Amsterdam Oost, serves very good food and very nice service. I love Lavalade, amazing food and the dusty atmosphere. I love the Indian restaurant Bombay Inn on leidseplein and Thai-coon on Beukenplein.
15 – What is it for you to be real? What defines you as a person?
I don’t have the need to define myself. I think life is a journey and what I’m today I won’t be tomorrow. I do make point of taking life as it comes and not hurting others around me. But apart from that life flows.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
For the filling
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1 2-lb. bag refrigerated sauerkraut
1 oz. (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
Freshly ground black pepper
For the dough
2 lb. (7 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more as needed
4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups warm water
Put the mushrooms in a small saucepan with 2 cups water and a pinch of salt; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer and cook the mushrooms until tender, about 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, lift the mushrooms out of the liquid, transfer to a cutting board, and chop them. Strain the liquid though a fine sieve lined with a damp paper towel set over a small bowl. Rinse and drain the sauerkraut in a colander, pressing on it to release as much liquid as possible.
Melt 1 Tbs. of the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sauerkraut, mushrooms, and the mushroom cooking liquid. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the liquid has evaporated and the sauerkraut is dry, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the remaining 1 Tbs. butter and cook, stirring often, until the flavors are blended, about 2 minutes more. Let cool to room temperature before using.
Put the flour in a large bowl. Add the butter and, using your fingers, work it into the flour until the mixture has the texture of coarse meal. Still using your fingers, add 1-3/4 cups of the warm water, stirring until the mixture begins to come together. If the mixture is dry, you can add up to 1/4 cup more warm water, a tablespoon at a time, until it forms a cohesive yet shaggy mass. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface, and then gently knead it just until soft and elastic; the dough will not be completely smooth, but it should be easy to shape, with a Play-Doh like consistency. Avoid overkneading, or the dough will become tough. (At this point you can proceed with the recipe or let the dough rest on a floured surface, covered with a clean dishtowel, for up to 1 hour.)
Divide the dough into 6 grapefruit-size balls (about 8 oz. each). Working with 1 piece of dough at a time on a floured work surface, and keeping the others covered so they don’t dry out, roll the dough into a 10- to 11-inch wide, 1/8-inch-thick circle. Using a floured 3-inch round cookie cutter or inverted glass, cut out circles of dough. Transfer the dough circles to a large parchment-lined baking sheet dusted with flour. Dust with a little more flour and top with another sheet of parchment so they don’t dry out. Repeat with the remaining dough, stacking the circles between sheets of floured parchment and re-rolling the scraps until all of the dough is used.
Working with 1 dough circle at a time, brush off any excess flour and hold the circle in your palm. Spoon a scant 1 Tbs. of the filling into the center of the circle and fold it in half. Using your fingers, tightly pinch the edges together to seal and create a 1/2-inch border. Arrange the filled pierogi on a lightly floured surface or large rimmed baking sheet and dust very lightly with flour; loosely cover with plastic wrap or a clean dishtowel. Repeat with the remaining dough circles and filling.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 175°F. Bring a 6- to 8-quart pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Working in batches of 10 to 12, drop the pierogi into the boiling water and give them a gentle stir so they don’t stick together or to the sides of the pot. When they float to the top 5 (after 1 to 2 minutes for room temperature pierogi, 3 to 4 minutes for refrigerated, and 7 to 10 minutes for frozen), use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a platter and keep warm in the oven while cooking the remaining batches.
You can serve the pierogi either boiled or fried. For boiled pierogi, melt the butter in a 1- to 2-quart saucepan. Drizzle the pierogi with the melted butter. Serve hot with the sour cream on the side. For fried pierogi, melt 4 Tbs. of the butter in a 12-inch heavy-duty skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches of 10 to 12, cook the boiled pierogi, flipping once, until golden-brown and crusty on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to another platter and keep warm in the oven. Repeat, adding more butter as needed. Serve the pierogi with sour cream on the side.
The filling can be made up to 2 days ahead; cover and refrigerate. Filled pierogi can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 hours before cooking, or frozen for up to 6 months—freeze in one layer on a parchment-lined tray, then transfer to freezer bags.
Recipe from Fine Cooking.