Every place you go will have its own culinary tradition. Something it’s known for. Something that the locals take great pride in suggesting that you order. In Chicago, it’s the pizza. Dublin, it’s the Guinness. Vienna, it’s the sausage. In Poznań, it’s the rogali świętomarciński (roh-gah-lee sh-vee-en-toh-march-een-ski).
St. Martin’s Croissant
Okay, so that’s a mouthful, and not just linguistically. The rogale świętomarciński, or the St. Martin’s croissant, for those of us that speak English, is a type of pastry in a similar shape to a croissant. But it has a sweet filling made from white poppy seeds, crushed nuts, and dried fruit. Sounds yummy, right? Well, if you want to try one, you’ll have to go to Poznań. In order for it to truly be a St. Martin’s croissant, it must be made by a certified pastry baker, in the city of Poznań, and weigh between 150 and 250 grams. In other words, it’s a big honkin’ croissant, and “you can’t make it back home, Chicago,” as I was informed. (In Poznań, I told someone I was from Chicago, and ended up with a new nickname for the duration of my visit.)
I had heard of these croissants, and had fully intended on buying one – or three – when I visited Poznań. So, imagine my delight when I was told that there was a whole museum in Poznań dedicated to croissants! That would be the Rogalowe Muzeum Poznania. This was too quirky to resist. Plus, you can watch the famous fighting goats at noon from the museum windows while eating a croissant. Sold.
The Rogalowe Muzeum Poznania
In order to find the Rogalowe Muzeum Poznania, you really have to know what you’re looking for. It’s not something you would just stumble across while walking around. It’s in a beautiful Renaissance-era building, right on the stary rynek (old market square), facing the town hall building. However, the entrance is on the back side of the building. The website has a handy map, complete with a red line showing how to get from the town hall to the door. There are several shows per day. One of the shows includes front-row seats to the main attraction in Poznań: the fighting goats. These are wooden goats, not to worry! They emerge from the clock tower every day at noon and batter each other with all of their mechanical might.
The show I attended was definitely geared toward children. In fact, for the first five or ten minutes, I thought I would be the only person who wasn’t a part of the school group. More people did show up, and all of us English speakers sat together. That way. the two guys putting on the show could do real-time translations for us.
The Show Begins
The show started out with an introduction to the city of Poznań and the Poznań dialect. The kids really seemed to get a kick out of hearing the little idiosyncrasies of their own language. Even I enjoyed that part. It was interesting to hear a different facet of the language. The part that really entertained everyone was when the presenter looked at me – the token American in the group. He explained how, in the Poznań dialect, the derriere is referred to as America. The kids liked it because they could talk about butts. The adults liked it because, who doesn’t like to make fun of the American? It was all in good fun, even if I was the butt of the joke, so to speak.
We then moved into a history of the St. Martin’s croissant, which is more interesting than you’d think. It’s tied with the tradition of charity. On St. Martin’s day, the bakers of Poznań make tons – literally, tons – of these croissants to give to the hungry.
Time to Make the Croissants
After the talking, we got baking. This was a hands-on show. We had all gotten poofy hats and aprons before the start of the show, and we put them to use. Kids came up in groups to knead the dough, roll the dough, fold the croissants, and everything in between. I got to cut the dough using a saber – also a part of the tradition. I also failed at cutting the dough with the saber, which led to some hilarity among the munchkins. To be completely fair, it wasn’t a very sharp saber.
After cutting comes the rolling. There’s a very specific way to roll these croissants. This allows the filling to bubble out of the sides while it’s baking. The host told me that, unlike in a doughnut, “you don’t look for filling, filling looks for you”. It’s completely true, and it’s wonderful. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m almost always disappointed by the (lack of) filling in pastries. Not in Poznań. Bakeries all across town make these croissants the same way. That means that, no matter which bakery you visit, your croissant will have plenty of tasty goodness in every bite.
At this point in the show, we took a break to watch the goat fight. As the clock struck twelve, the goats head-butted each other twelve times. Meanwhile, we, in the Rogalowe Muzeum Poznania, took pictures with one hand and taste-tested some croissants with the other.
As sad as we all were to see the goats retreat into the clock tower, we were all happy to return to the croissants. We returned to our seats and watched as our hosts pulled hot pastries from the oven. Then, they received icing and a sprinkling of nuts. The final step of the process was figuring out whether or not it was really a St. Martin’s croissant. We had to weigh it. We took bets on how much the croissant weighed, with winner-takes-croissant stakes. Alas, I did not win this contest.
I did, however, find another croissant before skipping town.
Visiting the Rogalowe Muzeum Poznania:
Getting there: Although the address is Stary Rynek 41, but the actual entrance is around back, in the courtyard off of number 23 ulica Klasztornej. There’s a handy-dandy map on the museum’s website.
Admission: Open shows in English (i.e., you haven’t booked in advance) are 18 PLN per person until July 2019, when the price goes up to 19 PLN. Unfortunately, you can’t see the goat show if you choose this option. If you’d like to see the goat show and want to speak English, you must book in advance. Pre-booked shows (including the noon time slot with the goat show) are 29 PLN per person.
- Shows are at 9AM, 10AM, 11:10AM (with the goat show), 12:30PM, 1:45PM, and 3PM
- Additional times are available for large groups, just contact them ahead of time to make arrangements.
- The 1:45PM show has an English translation on Saturdays and Sundays, so if you’re an English-speaker in town on those days, you can drop in on those shows without pre-booking.
- All guests should arrive 10 minutes ahead of time in the courtyard on ulica Klasztornej.
Website: You can visit the Rogalowe Muzeum Poznania website here.
Good to know:
- The museum is, unfortunately, not handicap accessible, and the show does take place on the upper floor (I know it says first floor on their website – remember, it’s Europe, and the first floor is the American second floor).
- All tickets include a croissant tasting!