A N N E T T E

 Warsaw | 2017

A N N E T T E

City  Warsaw
Age  30
Love life  Boyfriend
Profession PR/Marketing/Communications for global law firm and Founder of culinary tours in Warsaw
Years in Warsaw  4 years + childhood
Location  Restaurant Alewino

T H E  W A R S A W  S T O R I E S

‘BEING

POLISH IS

BEING

COOL’

  • What does Warsaw mean to you?

    “I came to Warsaw when I was nine years old, the first years of my life I lived in Nigeria. As a little girl in Warsaw I lived in a pretty closed and special environment. I went to a private French school with people from all over the world. We used to call it the French ghetto. I hardly had any contact with everyday Polish people. I got used to hanging out with people who travelled and were super stylish, and super trendy, and super this and that. But my best friends now are completely different, and we get along perfectly. In Warsaw it was a bit easier to make friends than in other parts of the world. There is a different group for everyone, probably because we don’t have a strong identity, due to the fact that we were oppressed so many times in the past. Maybe that is the reason why people aren’t really proud of our country. A lot of Polish people, especially the ones who travelled, tend to move away. Which is sad, because Poland has a lot to offer. Now there is this mini-trend of people who try to be proud and try to make their own Polish products, like for example vodka. That’s awesome. Here you feel you can start something and it’s going to work, because many things don’t exist yet, the way they do in London or Paris. It’s exciting that the city is slowly opening up. And Warsaw still has this town feeling and sense of community, which I need because I am kind of from nowhere. The people here are still sometimes a little bit closed-up, unidirectional, old-fashioned, and don’t have this international openness. Many people don’t trust each other at all and are really buttoned up about emotional topics. It started during the Communist years, but it became a cultural thing. And then, there’s this truckload of bitter, upset, and close-minded small-town people who came to Warsaw to make money, but hate the city. Poles need to realize that they have a beautiful country, and have a lot to offer to the rest of the world. They are hard-working, smart people, and being Polish is being cool!”

  • What makes you really happy?

    “Food is the one thing that comes to mind immediately! I run a foodblog that promotes great places in Warsaw http://wheninwarsaw.com and together with an Israelian friend I’ve started a culinary tours company http://foodsteps.com.pl. We want people to see that Warsaw is cool, trendy and has beautiful, world-class restaurants. In four days we give our guests an overview of the old and the new Polish cuisine. For example, we take them to cooking class to make pierogi – which historically is not really Polish food, but a remnant from the communist era. We also go to an amazing haute cuisine restaurant with fresh seasonal Polish food and to a night market at an old train platform, with amazing food from all over the world. People will be really surprised!”

  • What is your best personality trait?

    “I think I’m quite open and I like to bring people together, although I can be distant as well. But when someone feels like family to me, I’m very loyal. And I’m quite positive, I always look for solutions and the good in every situation. Some Poles are the opposite of that, so what I am learning is patience.”

  • What makes you different than other people?

    “That I don’t have this strong national identity, because I’ve been living in different places. My father is Canadian and my mother is Polish, but I don’t really consider myself anything. Which sucks. I am jealous of people who have a strong identity. I do feel really close to this amazing friend who is half Mexican and half Polish and lived everywhere in the world as well. We sit down together and have those non-stop talks about cultural subtleties. Internationals often have the same sense of humor, share topics and everything, which is different from a one-track culture or upbringing. I’m happy to be part of this, but sometimes I feel lost.”

  • What is your biggest struggle in life?

    “I’m quite a lucky person, I haven’t had that many challenges in my life. But the biggest struggle is to find a place within a culture and within a group I actually want to be in. It is hard for me, even while it’s so important to me. I have some very good friends, but maybe I’m looking for more. Also, sometimes I feel like I struggle with finding my place among the people I love and with figuring out who I am and what I want in life. I don’t really fit into the very traditional Polish environment I grew up in. I was growing up with all those standards laid upon me. I went to private schools, got music lessons, tennis classes, blahblahblah. I had the feeling I was being made to be this perfect little princess who knows Latin and would one day be sent off with Prince Charming and have all the money in the world and just enjoy life and never work too hard. It was all very superficial. I just had to be beautiful and smile. Well, of course I also needed to have a degree and speak languages, but not for myself, but for some kind of superficial standard. And I never agreed with that line of thought, and always felt ‘out of place’ as it is against my values. It’s hard.”

  • What is the biggest life lesson so far?

    “I think to have more empathy. I used to be more selfish. But then my parents had some financial problems when I lived in Barcelona. All of a sudden I had to stand on my own two feet. I literally went out on the streets to distribute flyers to people. That was a whole new world for me, because up to that point I was this overprotected, spoiled girl. I had always been in touch with people who lived outside of this reality, but at that point I met amazing people who were very self-driven. Not having daddy and mommy behind me was a big breakthrough for me. I learned to understand people and not be so judgmental. It’s kind of banal.”

 

  • What are you insecure about

    “That I don’t know enough or that I’m not smart enough. Sometimes when I don’t feel smart enough, I tend to react a bit defensive. Another one of my insecurities is not being accepted in a group. Normally I’m the entertainer of the group and I bring people together. So maybe my biggest insecurity would be to be at a table and to not be able to connect with the people I’m with. It happened a few times and that made me feel so small and insignificant and rejected. Then I realized that I didn’t suck, those people sucked. But if the people who are closest to me wouldn’t be proud of me, it would destroy me.”

  • What is the best advice someone ever gave you?

    “I think the one my dad gave me: be humble and be thankful for what you have. He’s a person of great values and always tries to teach me the difference between right and wrong. He just wants me to be a happy person, we talk a lot about it. My positivity forces me to indeed be thankful for what I have, but I have some work to do there. I always want more. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s ambition, maybe it’s greed, I haven’t pinpointed that yet in myself. I always try to remind myself that I should chill out and just be happy. But I do feel grateful that I had the chance to enjoy the tastes of Africa, Canada, Poland, Australia and Spain, and many other countries. It makes me more open-minded and objective to have experienced different cultures.”

  • What advice would you give other women in Europe?

    “To be confident. Confidence is something a lot of women don’t have. I don’t know if it’s something you can learn, but my advice would basically be, ‘accept and love yourself’. When you understand yourself, everything will go easier and you will be happier with yourself. But getting to know yourself is one of the hardest things in life, so the more you work on it, the closer you will get. But absolutely no one will get there 100%.”

  • What is your biggest dream or ultimate goal?

    “Being 100% confident, haha! In the short term, doing what I love and making a name for myself in the food industry. My biggest-ever dream in life is having a house by the sea with the biggest table ever and having all my friends sit around it, just getting along with each other. And my kids would be best friends with my sister’s kids and my best friend’s kids and we would all spend a few days together every summer and enjoy food.”

Photos by Marta Ankiersztejn

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