Words by Jobe Baker-Sullivan / Pics by Jobe Baker-Sullivan and Ed King
Queues on Erdington High Street are now an all too familiar sight, as shops encourage social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many Eastern European shops, however, remain accessible without too much queueing – stocking an abundance of the basic necessities that supermarkets now sometimes lack.
Janosik, situated at 203 High Street in Erdington, is a grocery store that caters for the Polish community. There is a queue outside, but not for this ‘polski sklep’ (polish shop): it’s for Lloyds bank next door.
Full of food, drink, and household essentials, Erdington Local explores the shelves at Janosik – one of Erdington’s many polish shops where a language barrier might be the only thing slowing down your shopping.
Bread (chleb) is found at the back of the store – fresh, sliced, and easy to spot. Polish people also like to make their own bread and pastries, and there’s a large selection of wheat flour (mąka, the ą gives it a sound more like ‘monka’) on the shelves at Janosik – a staple that’s been disappearing from supermarkets across the region, as many people have begun baking at home during lockdown.
Pasta is also in abundance – specialties, as well as simple ‘farfalle’ priced 400g for 99p.
For milk (mleko), the most common choice popular brand UHT Łaciate [pronounced ‘wa-chya-the’). But don’t get caught out by ‘kefir’ – it might look like normal milk from the packaging, but it’s more like a thin yoghurt that’s used in baking.
“It’s good for a hangover!” chimes in Krystian, a helpful regular customer. Krystian visits the shop every couple of days for his basic amenities.
“The beer is cheaper here than the Co-op,” he boasts, “and there’s a lovely selection of treats” pointing to the shelves of biscuits and chocolate.
Drworek is a brand of soup (zupa). “It’s like the Polish ready-meal,” says Krystian. Pomidorowa (tomato) and kapuśniak (cabbage) are easy to heat in the pan and serve 3-4 portions.
Most of the products in Janosik are Polish, with a small selection of Romanian items available at the back of the store – such as Zacuscă, a vegetable spread that goes nicely on that fresh chleb (bread).
But there are many basic household products that you can buy in Janosik, everyday essentials, that are all too familiar on shopping lists across Erdington. The shop also boasts a pharmacy, a fresh meat counter, and a variety of other foodstuffs.
Shopping at Janosik, and other Eastern European shops, in Erdington might be the perfect way to avoid those High Street queues – whilst supporting more of our local businesses during lockdown.
To find out more about Janosik, situated at 203 Erdington High Street, visit their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/JANOSIKSUPERSTORE/
For more about the Polish community across Birmingham, visit the Polish Expats Association at www.facebook.com/polish.expats