After the end of World War II, Poland fell under Soviet / Communist occupation. Some restaurants were nationalized. The communists envisioned a net of lunch rooms called “bufet” for the workers at various companies, and milk bars for the public. The majority of restaurants that survived the 1940s and 1950s were state-owned. Workplace lunch rooms promoted mostly inexpensive meals, including soups of all kinds, meatballs and pork chops, and staples such as placki ziemniaczane (potato pancakes), placki z jablkami (apple pancakes), kopytka (potato gnocchi), leniwe (farmer’s cheese gnocchi served sweet) and pierogi. A typical second course consisted of meat cutlet served with potatoes or buckwheat and “surówka” (raw, julienned vegetables). The popular Polish kotlet schabowy is a breaded cutlet similar to the Austrian Wiener schnitzel and the Italian and Spanish Milanesa.
With time, the shortage economy led to scarcity of meat, coffee, tea and other ingredients of daily use. Many products like chocolate, sugar and meat were rationed, with a specific limit depending on social class and health requirements. Physical workers and pregnant women were generally entitled to more food products. Imports were restricted, so much of the food supply was domestic. Cuisine became homogeneous, to be a chef was no longer a prestigious profession and for decades the country became basically disconnected from any foreign cuisine. Tropical fruits (citrus, banana, pineapple, etc.) were available during holidays and local fruits and vegetables were mostly seasonal but were available at private stands. For most of the year the Poles had to get by with only domestic winter fruit and vegetables: apples, plums, currants, onions, potatoes, cabbage, root vegetables and frozen products. Other food products (of foreign origins) were available at markets at high prices.
This situation led in turn to gradual replacement of traditional Polish cuisine with food prepared from anything available at the moment. Among the popular dishes introduced by the public restaurants was “kotlet mielony” meatball, a sort of a hamburger often served with beet puree and fresh carrots . The traditional recipes were mostly preserved during the Wigilia feast (Christmas Eve), for which many families tried to prepare 12 traditional courses.
A popular form of fish dish was, and still is, paprykarz szczeciński from the city of Szczecin, usually added to sandwiches.