The Carpathian mountains is a shepherding region. For five months, from early May to late September, shepherds herding flocks of sheep are a common sight. Out in the mountain pastures, traditional utensils and work methods are used. The shepherds’ huts have been the same for centuries. Smoked sheep’s-milk cheese, called oscypek, is made near the end of the shepherding season and a festival by the same name is held in Zakopane in May.
Poland has a varied and tasty cuisine. Traditional soups include borsch, zurek – a sour soup with sausage, and wildmushroom soup. Other dishes worth trying include bigos – stewed cabbage with meat, and pierogi - dumplings stuffed with all manner of fillings. Those who like sweets will be delighted with Polish gingerbread, cheesecake and poppyseed cake, while for those seeking regional dishes the menus of the 17th-century inns in Sucha Beskidzka and Jelesnia in the Zywiec region will be intriguing. Their specialty is kwasnica – sauerkraut soup cooked with stock made from pig snouts. Among alcoholic beverages, mead comes highly recommended. Wyborowa vodka goes best with meat dishes, and Krupnik, a honey liqueur, is great with desserts. Zywiec, Okocim and Lech beer are good for cooling down on a hot day.