The history of the Zapiekanka...
A zapiekanka is an open-face sandwich made of half of a baguette or other long roll of bread, topped with sautéed white mushrooms, cheese and optionally other ingredients, and toasted until the cheese melts. Served hot with ketchup, it is a popular street food in Poland. With its origin dating back to the 1970s, the zapiekanka is associated with the austere times of Poland's Communist regime, but it has enjoyed renewed demand in the 21st century, which has also brought a wider range of varieties.
A classic no-frills zapiekanka is made from one half of a baguette or any other long roll of white bread, as for a submarine sandwich, cut lengthwise. It may be up to 50 centimetres (20 in) long. The bread is topped with sliced, sautéed white mushrooms and grated cheese to form an open-face sandwich, which is then toasted until the bread becomes crisp and the cheese melts. Hard, mature yellow cheese with high fat content that melts well in heat, such as Gouda, Edam, Emmental, Tilsit or Cheddar, is best for this purpose; Polish smoked sheep milk cheese, such as oscypek, is also a popular choice. A zapiekanka is best served hot. The typical garnish is tomato ketchup, usually splattered on the cheese in a generous amount.
Zapiekanki are available throughout Poland in many varieties and levels of quality. Zapiekanki are available with a lavish choice of additional ingredients and sauces, which has earned them the monicker of "Polish pizza". Varieties include "diablo" with bacon, pickled cucumbers and spicy sauce; "Gypsy" with ham and sweet and sour sauce; "Greek" with olives and feta cheese; and "Hawaiian" with pineapple and barbecue sauce; patrons may also choose their own combinations. While the zapiekanka is primarily a street food, home-made versions also exist, such as the "student's zapiekanka", made from bread, cheese and whatever else is at hand at the moment.