Friday: Dobrzyn

January 10, 2014 • 2:34 pm

It’s been another quiet day in the country, though I had three interviews. The first was by biology student Justyna, who came here from Warsaw to interview me for her science journalism class (and perhaps for her website about primates, which she studies at the Warsaw zoo).

She lives near Dobrzyn and showed up wearing a primate hat, as well as the University of Chicago tee-shirt I gave her when she met me at the airport (Justyna has been very helpful in helping me get around Poland).


She also arrived with a birthday present for me: a plush cat. What should I call it?

Cat present

In the afternoon I addressed, by Skype, an introductory evolution/genetics class taught by my ex-student (and now chair of biology at Duke) Mohamed Noor. They are reading my book and asked lots of questions. As usual, most of those questions were about the intersection of science and religion—students are really curious about that. Several students had also read ID books and asked me about Haeckel’s “fraud,” as well as more conventional creationist questions about why evolution didn’t violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics (a softball!).

Then it was time for noms. Malgorzata made a stupendous spinach and cheese quiche:

Spinach pie

Then another interview, also via Skype, in connection with the Edge Annual Question, which is a good one this year; our answers will be made public in a few days.

After dinner we had a pomelo, which many readers may know, but it’s a fruit I’ve never seen. It’s like a cross between an orange and a grapefruit, and was excellent (and huge). It has the appropriate scientific name Citrus maxima, which sounds like Roman games, and is native to southeast Asia.

Pomelo 1

Pomelo 2

The obligatory portrait of the Queen and Editor-in-Chief:

Hili portrait

And so to rest. Is there anything more comforting than a good book and a cat?

Jerry and Hili

But before bedtime there is cake and the beverage of your choice. (As I said, Poles are like hobbits, eating at least five times per day.)

Tonight’s cake is Malgorzata’s special Swedish fruitcake, made with dried plums, dried apricots, walnuts, and raisins. I am told that before I leave I will be made a special cake that is called, in Swedish, “Professor’s Cake.”


It is amazing that I have gained no discernible weight on this trip.

35 thoughts on “Friday: Dobrzyn

  1. What should I call it?

    Well, it’s clearly a tabby-and-white and thus some sort of Hili surrogate. Some sort of Polish variation on Hili’s name would seem to be in order. Knowing no Polish, I wouldn’t presume to suggest what variation, precisely….


  2. “I am told that before I leave I will be made a special cake that is called, in Swedish, ‘Professor’s Cake.’ ”

    There’s a cannibal joke in there somewhere. I’d sleep lightly if I were you. 😉

  3. I took Dr. Noor’s class last time it was offered, and highly enjoyed it. For someone who didn’t doubt evolution, but had a poor understanding of some details due having a religious HS biology teacher skip the subject completely, it was very informative.

  4. Suggestions for plush cat name:

    Hilary (“Hilly” for short)

    Pamlatka (Polish for “souvenir”)

    Pomelo (because you first saw them on the same day)

    and of course

    Justyna (to remember her first owner.)

  5. Commenting on a name for the plush kitty:
    Since it is Jerry’s cat, it should be called Ben.

    Watch out for how you eat when you get home.
    Bet you’ll miss Polish meals and try to make up for it, or not. That is when you ought to be wary of weight gain, though.

  6. How about “Scrappy” as a name for that cat? It seems both cuddly and feisty to me (not much unlike our esteemed host). Plus, there’s those scraps on the kitteh’s chest, bold badges of untold exploits.

  7. I did some doodling with google translate for names:

    królewna (princess)
    bóg (god)
    wydawca (editor or publisher)
    mora (tabby)
    mysz (mouse)
    strażpola (Garfield, sort of)
    drugidom (second home)

    (btw have you looked up “Jerry” to see what it means in Polish?)

  8. Possible name for plushie cat –
    a) Marmalade (as in Lady Marmalade)
    b) Bilbo or Frodo or Baggins, in honour of the eating habits of Hobbits.

    How have you not gained any weight, Prof. Ceiling Cat? Good on you! How long are your walks?

  9. “Is there anything more comforting than a good book and a cat?”


    And apparently that thing is a human to lie on. Book optional but helps keep the human mostly still.

  10. Pomelos/pummelos are grown in CA but don’t ship or store very well. We see them in in AZ shops about once a year. We have an Oro Blanco tree whose fruit we are enjoying now. It is a white grapefruit-pummelo hybrid. We’re at the upper altitude limit for citrus, so the fruit is very mild but rather unpredictable from year to year, and the rind varies in thickness depending on the fruit’s place on the tree! Here’s one of our fruits with a very thick rind shown with a Florida Indian River pink grapefruit:

    That cake looks beautiful.

    1. I’ve never had any dealings with shipping them, but I get them whenever I can and I’ve never noticed that they store any more poorly than grapefruit. I think they store in the fruit bowl better then some other citrus — such as mandarins/tangerines.

      What I’ve heard is that they’ve never become commercial (in the U.S.) because they have irregular segment thicknesses and consumers won’t accept that, for some reason. It’s true that they are variable that way. Too bad — they are of excellent flavor, IMO.

    2. We get pomelos around this time of year (they seem to be decidedly seasonal – which isn’t popular with the big supermarket chains) from the so-called “German delicatessan”, with “Lidl” on the signs outside.
      They are excellent ; we never get less than two at a time, in the sure and certain knowledge that they won’t survive un-eaten for long.
      A lot of pith / zest though. I’ve a large bowl of it sitting on the desk in front of me, from my dessert (4 segments), and I’m feeling the temptation to eat some in bed. Soon.

      1. Wouldn’t that be so if it were a double helix (I.e. DNA).
        I just realised that I don’t know the structure of RNA. If DNA is a double helix, does RNA still curve around its length.

  11. The Polish diet is appealing. It looks like you get to enjoy tasty, healthy food and not gain weight! It’s perfect!

  12. I salivate every time you post one of your food or treat photos. But seriously, do they eat anything over there in Poland that _doesn’t_ make one’s arteries whimper?

  13. In honor of your friends both human and feline, I suggest naming the cat “Dobrzyn” and you can call her Dobi.

  14. In honor of your friends both human and feline, I suggest naming the cat “Dobrzyn.” You can call it Dobi.

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