The Plotki Encyclopedia.

“Kon, jaki jest, kazdy widzi.”

“A horse, what it is like, everyone can see.” A quotation from Nowe Ateny, a Polish baroque encyclopedia, by Benedykt Chmielowski, printed in Warsaw 1746. Renowned for its pseudo-intellectual, though colourful depictions of the imagination and half-knowledge of a rather uneducated period. The Plotki encyclopedians would like to reach a similar clarity and poignancy.

Phenomena such as bar mleczny, Polish dwarfs selling rubber figures in Zagreb and cãcãnar rarely make it into encyclopedias. These are the items of the Plotki Encyclopedia. It roughly covers the area of central Europe. However, the Plotki region we are interested in does not have very clear geographical borders. The region can be characterized by its trains, the smell of cabbage, failed projects and unexpected connections in between places or things in this or that country.

We aim at cultural insight. The goal is to highlight the cultural and social significance of events, places, people, food, films, books or other objects. Plotki means “rumours” and the encyclopedia is an ideal means of spreading them.

The encyclopedia is both aesthetic and practical. There are places worth seeing or recipes of delicious dishes to be tasted. The possible categories include cross-cultural or linguistic misunderstandings and good and odd, fascinating and boring ideas about central Europe.

The Plotki encyclopedia is an open project and invites everyone to participate.



“Bohemia. A desert country near the sea”.

A scene setting from  Winter’s tale by W.Shakespeare.

Bar mleczny

Polish, literally “milk bar”; pron. [bar mlechny].
1. A traditional Polish fast food. A large variety of dishes are offered such as pierogi, bigos, barszcz or surówki. Prices are low due to state subsidies. The most renowned b. m. in Warsaw is “Szwajcarski” (Swiss) on Nowy Świat not far from the palm tree; next to Warsaw University there is “Uniwersytecki”, nicknamed “karaluch” (cockroach).
2. A social and cultural institution. Old people, homeless, students and some not yet successful businessmen attend b.m. The decoration, pots and female cooks have not changed since the 1980s. Some tourists think that by entering a b.m. they are coming close to the essence of Polish culture.
3. A potential international food chain. Outside of Poland a b.m. can be found in New York City. As part of the season of Polish culture in France in 2004, a whole b.m. will be transferred to Lille from 7 to 9 May.

Bar mleczny base and news
Texts, poems, photos … a site made by warszawiaci
International fame of bar mleczny

Bács, Lajos

pron. [bach layosh]
1. A pensioner from Budapest.
2. The most famous dead Hungarian pensioner in the Czech Republic of the 1990s. L.B. was chosen as a cover-up name by the Czech Civic Democratic Party (ODS) for its real donor in the period of unexperienced party financing. In 1995, the ODS claimed L.B., at that time dead for thirteen years, contributed to the party a sum of 3,75 mil. CZK. The same generosity was shown by Radjiv M. Sinha from Mauritius.



Romanian, a drinking place.
One of the most important places in a Romanian village,  a place where you can always swallow a big portion of Balcanism. The slavic word appears in Polish (karczma), Czech and Slovak (krčma).

Coelho, Paolo

A writer, a guru, a visionary. Maybe from Brasil. Most influential person around the block, according to some Plotkists.


Romanian, literally “little jerk”; pron. [k∂k∂nar].
A male person who excels neither in intelligence nor in physical aptitudes but considers himself to be irresistible. He always wants to be in the centre of attention but his actions involve little effort from his side and all the effort from the others. That is why his past consists of a list of failed projects. His achievements are rare and they concern insignificant matters. The Căcănar’s dream is a red sport car with loud oriental music. He usually likes teasing the others, making them feel small in order to make himself feel big. The strange thing about this term is that it has no feminine correspondent. Maybe the term à pipiţă would be satisfying.




Russian, Bulgarian; literally “Euro-reconstruction”.
This is how the whole Eastern Europe calls a  renovation of an apartment, that is done nicely. You can buy books called “Evroremont” where every detail is described so that you will certainly have a European apartment. You may also find the term “Evro-shic-remont” while searching for an apartment.




Croatian,  literally “Seagull”.
Immaculately dressed, heavily suntanned and lightly perfumed men that seduce female  tourists during summer vacations at the Croatian seaside. As their name tells, they unscrupulously fly from one fish to the other. During the year, unlike their animal counterparts, they fly off to the North visiting their summer “victims” all over Europe with whom they exchange love letters and presents. A must-have item: white sweater used for keeping women warm, or as a beach/bench “blanket” for the passionate sexual encounters. Traditional g. is in decline as sex-tourism ruins the g.-like behaviour for the reason that g. in the first place “sells” the idea of love, not sex directly. Galebs are called: “Maxi Kaz” in Poland, “papagal” in Romania, and were called “Kurschatten” in Kakanien.




Opposite of Realkritik. Very spurious.




Ironic, but tender name for the former Habsburg Empire Austria-Hungary, derived from the two “K”-initials (pronounced “Kah” in German) of “königlich-kaiserlich” (royal-imperial), an adjective describing the different status of Habsburg rule in the Austrian (imperial) and Hungarian (royal) part of the Empire, respectively. Used by writers such as Roth or Musil to describe the mentality and climate of the Habsburg cultural sphere.




(singular: manea) is a Balkan music style related with Serbian turbofolk or Bulgarian chalga.
Originally a Turkish live song, now enriched with Arab and Gipsy nuances today’s manele are a mixture of pop and folk music. Main subjects-matter are: my woman, my money, my enemies, my car, my money, your money, my my my my…


kind of (mainly pork) meat balls, grilled outdoor so everybody can enjoy the smell.
History tells us about the important military role of the mici as, so it seems, during curfews in WWII the (various and changing) enemy army was able to recognize and aim at Bucharest by looking at the mici smoke covering the sky.



1. A dance club in Leipzig.
2. An Internet café in Făgăraš.
3. North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a military club of Western states many Eastern European states once were or still are very eager to gain membership of.





1. Someone concerned with rumours.
2. Cross-border enthusiast.


1. Rumours in Polish.
2. A community of self-made journalists, artists and novac with its own language settled mostly in central and eastern Europe.
3. A journalistic travel agency.

“La Pologne, c’est nulle part”

French, literally, “Poland, that is to say – nowhere”.
Scene setting of Alfred Jarry’s play “Ubu roi” (King Ubu).

Pupicon intelectual

A kiss-surrogate usually given to young girls/ladies by senile old people (men). The ritual consists in the following gestures: The old fellow kisses his index finger and for a moment touches this against the girl’s forehead.


pron. [pipitsa].
Romanian female clones dressing in tight miniskirts, wearing tons of make-up, pumps or pointed shoes (see the German Verona Feldbusch). They are everywhere, talking aloud about nothing. They consider themselves irreplaceable. See Căcănar.

Pan Tadeusz

pron. [pan tadeush].
1. A well known label of Polish vodka.
2. The most important Polish epos by Adam Mickiewicz beginning with the words “Lithuania, my fatherland …” Every Polish pupil is taught this verse by heart.



Something that sounds good, but nobody knows what Jakob Hurrle wanted to say with it. See Idealkritik



German for “Street Walker”.

Profession in Germany: a person who is walking the streets looking for street damages (See article by Nadine Wojcik in Plotki No. 4).

Simulanten Bande

German, literally “a bunch of malingerers”.

“Das ganz tschechische Volk ist eine simulanten Bande”, a quote from the Good Soldier Sveik by J Hašek. It is true.

Sobieski, Jan III

1. A Polish king (1629-1696). According to a legend, he gave potatoes to the Poles. He recieved some potatoes from Spain and ordered the gardener to plant them. As the idea to have a potatoe as a decorative plant failed, the gardener threw the potatoes into a fire. Then, thanks to a beautiful smell of fried potatoes, everyone realized that they might be good to eat.
2. One of the most important Polish brand names. There are cigarettes by the name of Sobieski, vodka and a hotel in Warsaw.
3. Polish pupils are taught that he saved Europe from the Turks at the Siege of Vienna in 1683. This was the last battle won by the Poles until “Cud nad Wislą” in 1920. In rememberance of the battle in Vienna, the PKP, the Polish railway company named the train from Warsaw to Vienna “Sobieski” leaving Warsaw Central Station at 14:30.

Sheep, bulimic

1. (Proper sense) Scene from the cartoons in which two groups of sheep are running one against the other, eating all the grass in a crazy rush and leaving deserted lands behind them.
2. (Figurative sense). Used by Romanian Plotkist Novac as an ironic nickname for the freak tourists who take pictures of every shit that they see and they never get enough. Used also in the phrase “seeing through the eyes of the bulimic sheep” to define a certain (rather negative) way of stepping out of your own subjectivity (example: seeing your country through the eyes of the strangers by noticing only the negative aspects).

Sezona irvasa

Serbo-croato-bosnian, literally “The season of raindeers”.

This is how people in Mostar call the summer season when people from Bosnia (who fled to Scandinavia during the war) come back to fix their houses.



Turkish Coffee, so-called

Known in the Plotki region as the simplest way of making coffee: Put filter coffee into a mug, pour a considerable amount. Add boiling water.




German acronym for „Vorne kurz, hinten lang”, literally “short in front, long at the back”.

Name of a haircut fashionable in the 1980s, surviving today in remote parts of the world such as Česká Skalice, the Czech Republic. Czech synonym: deka (blanket). Polish synonyms: plereza, misiura, czeski piłkarz (Czech footballer), chlapacze. Note also the épos pteroén: “Najlepsza fryzura, jeśli nie wiecie; Krótko z przodu, długo z tyłu i wąsy na przedzie” (The best hairstyle, if you don´t know; short from the front, long at the back and beard in the front) Kazik w piosence “12 groszy”.