My first impression of Polish bread was not a good one. I am a big fan of all types but my digestive system was not accustomed to the basic differences between bread I grew up with in London and the bread I encountered in Poland. I am not sure what exactly caused the insane bloating I experienced, I heard maybe the higher rye to wheat content, but it made me extremely uncomfortable and I probably came across rude by refusing to eat a lot of it. The people of Poland are the largest consumers of bread in Europe and they take it very seriously. Many meals are accompanied by bread (e.g. bigos or fasolka po bretonsku), and there are a great deal of different varieties and types. In fact, once my innards became accustomed to the change I found it quite boring upon returning to London to find a pathetic variety of breads on offer compared with Poland. For instance, I find it hard to find some of the heavier, harder very dark types of bread which are popular in Poland.
The biggest difference I noticed was how I had always assumed that the standard loafs of bread found in shops in London are a specialist type of bread in Poland. Known as 'toast bread' in Poland, it was initially a matter of some confusion as this was the default bread for me, the only choice being white or brown. In Poland however this type of bread was not standard and is employed for quite a specific purpose.....making toast. Quite logical really as it's shape is obviously a perfect match for the toaster. The square shaped toast bread makes packing sandwiches much more efficient which might also explain this particular type of breads popularity in England as Polish sandwiches are different (see kanapka).
Polish bread is one thing I have heard that Poles living outside of Poland miss a great deal, especially in England probably due to the dominance of toast bread but one type of bread which is greatly appreciated by them is Irish soda bread which is compared very favourably to their own and incidentally is one of my favourite breads also.