New Britain, CT — a.k.a. Little Poland

How I love going to Broad St. in New Britain, CT. It is chockfull of little polish delis, grocers, bakeries, restaurants, and of course, polish people! It’s a bit odd going there, too, because I look like I totally belong there. Being a purebred of polish ancestry, I look polish. So when I go there, people often presume I speak Polish. I don’t, aside from a few words, which are mainly swear words I learned from my wonderful polish grandmothers.

I went there today to meet a friend at the European Cafe, a small cafe in the heart of the polish community. It was a lovely little cafe at 113 Broad St. I recommend it. We had very yummy nalesniki (which were listed on the menu in English as “crepes”).

While there, these two ladies were sitting next to us chatting in Polish. Then they turned to us and started speaking. I finally said, “Oh, are you talking to us?” and I figured out she said that she thought I was polish and spoke Polish. I said I am polish but don’t speak it. Shortly before that, I was telling my friend about how this is often the case when I go there. She remarked that she does not normally think of someone as looking polish. All I can say to that is, look at me!

DO check out the European Cafe in New Britain! I also stopped at Kasia’s Bakery (one of my favorites!) and got a loaf of delicious rye bread. I love it!


6 thoughts on “New Britain, CT — a.k.a. Little Poland

  1. Pawel says:

    That’s an interesting post:) I got to your blog by accident, and stopped by.

    You mentioned your grandparents spoke Polish. I was surprised you didn’t catch Polish from your family. Is speaking another language not regarded as something especially beneficial across the pond?

    Do you ever regret not having learned Polish? Being bicultural and stuff?

    But telling you the truth I couldn’t blame Polonia for not sticking to the “Polishness” as the Polonia version of Polishness seems so outdated and unattractive.

    PS. What’s CT?

  2. heidi says:

    Thanks for your comments, Pawel.

    I’m actually 4th and 5th generation american (depending on which side). That my grandparents spoke Polish was really only on my maternal side. I think my paternal grandparents understood Polish but didn’t really speak it. And my maternal grandparents surely spoke some mix of Polish and English, as they were fluent in English and were probably forgetting some of their Polish.

    In the early 20th century, there was a very big emphasis on immigrant cultures giving up their native cultures in order to assimilate. I don’t think it is insanely different today, but I believe there is a bit more effort put into preserving culture. So my grandparents never spoke Polish to us kids. In fact, they “capitalized” on the fact that we didn’t speak Polish, as it meant they could speak about adult matters that we were not supposed to hear. Although of course we picked up on tone.

    And CT is the abbreviation for the state in which I live, Connecticut. Keep stopping by!

  3. Pawel says:

    Connecticut! I should’ve worked that out:)

    4th/5th generation… You’re like Martha Stuart then:D

    I guess I ought to say what I meant saying that “Polonia version of Polishness is unatractive” – when I read it now it seems pretty vague:)

    I meant that the “Polonia” version of Polish culture is some ersatz, containing folk costumes, kiełbasa, romantic poets etc. Not really reflecting the current development of Polish culture, which redefines itself all the time.

    As for “looking Polish” – for me it’s the opposite. I seem to look anything but Polish. When I worked as a waiter in an italian restaurant during one summer holiday in Jersey (not the new one, the old one in Channel Islands, Europe). There’s a large Polish minority on this island and staff who worked in hospitality&catering all seemed to be Polish. Yet everyone assumed I was italian and talked to me in italian. Funny that.

    I will stop by to read your blog, but promise to stop by at ours too:) :>

  4. Adrian Baron says:

    Heidi, Just wanted to drop you a note. I am happy to report that last night the city of New Britain designated Broad Street officially as Little Poland. Keep up the good work with your blog


  5. John Murawski says:

    Loved your comments. I grew up in New Britain on Grove St.. Up towards Washington Park. Attended Sacred Heart School, Elijah Burritt Junior High and New Britain High. Spent many a pleasant day on Broad Street and surrounding environments.

    But it was a different time. I left New Britain to join the US Marine Corps in 1959. Returned in 1969 after a lifetime in Vietnam and travels all around Asia. got transferred to New Hampshire with the Bell System and never looked back.

    At that time Broad Street was just beginning to come into its own. I have returned on occasion to buy some great food to take back with me.

    In the near future I would like to return again and I am wondering what the local lodging opportunities are? A stay for several days or there abouts.

    Any ideas or suggestions?

  6. I like this article great information.

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