Culture is their custom Polish immigrants keep in step with family traditions NORTH -- Manchester * Hampstead * Lineboro

June 30, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

One Hampstead family has added its own distinctive flavors to the American melting pot.

Sisters Christina Bandula, 11, and Katherine Bandula, 8, of Roberts Field, dance traditional Krakowiaki folk dances from the area around Krakow, Poland.

They are part of a dance troupe from the Polish National Alliance in Baltimore that has performed at the Polish Embassy, at the Maryland State Fair and on Fathers' Day at the Polish festival in Baltimore.

The Krakowiaki dancing is a way for them to keep in touch with their family's traditions, their father, Jan Bandula, said. "It's important that they know they have some Polish parents."

Every Saturday, the girls travel to Baltimore for two hours of practice.

"I like dancing," said Christina.

"It's hard learning new dances," she said, and the long sleeves, stockings, and boots of the traditional Krakowiaki costume are hot.

But, she said, "When I'm dancing, I hardly remember. . . . It's fun."

The girls wear wreaths of flowers in their hair, and colorful skirts and blue velvet vests decorated with beads and sequins. Colored ribbons stream behind them.

Mr. Bandula, 44, trained as a chef in Poland and in Vienna. Born in Poland, he began training at age 14, and became a master chef in Poland at age 23. Later, he studied his art in Vienna.

Mr. Bandula said he met his wife, Danuta, while he managed a cafe in Poland. She was a saleswoman.

He emigrated to the United States in 1974. Two years later, he asked Danuta to join him in America.

Everyone in the family is now an American citizen.

Coming to America, Mr. Bandula said, was "very hard."

However, he wanted adventure, he said, and "you have to make a decision what you want to do."

"You have to be very strong, too, when you come so far," said Mrs. Bandula, who battled homesickness until the birth of her first daughter.

"Now, I am very glad" to be here, she said.

Both of the couple's daughters were born in America, and neither speaks with the Polish accent of their parents.

PD Mrs. Bandula said the girls have been "a big help" to her in her

efforts to improve her own English.

Mr. Bandula is one of 13 certified master pastry chefs in the United States. He has made truffles for President Reagan, and a peanut-shaped birthday cake for President Carter.

He also is a certified culinary educator, a member of the American Academy of Chefs and president of the Greater Baltimore Chefs' Association.

Some of Mr. Bandula's culinary creations as colorful as his daughters' dancing costumes. He has created an intricate model of the Eiffel Tower, made of chocolate and sugar filigree. He has made cakes in the shapes of Baltimore office towers for grand opening celebrations.

Once, he made a painting of Gov. William Donald Schaefer, executed in colored sugar.

His culinary work is both a profession and an art, he said, and it requires a great deal of patience.

"Cooking or baking is almost like science," Mr. Bandula said. "You always have to think very, very hard and concentrate on what you do."

A former chef at the old Pimlico Restaurant, Mr. Bandula is now the baking and pastry program coordinator at the 500-student Baltimore International Culinary College. He has taught there for almost 10 years.

He says his wife does the cook


ing at home because he does enough cooking at work, although he creates cakes and pastries for birthdays or other family occasions.

Does he criticize his wife's cooking?

"I do not criticize any food," Mr. Bandula said. "Thanks to God, we have food."

One of the things he has noticed about the United States, he said, was how much food is wasted in restaurants. There are other differences, too.

"When I lived in Vienna, I went to the opera most every day," said Mr. Bandula. He still misses that, he said, and he misses soccer.

But the couple said they're glad they moved to Hampstead from Baltimore almost two years ago.

"The school system is nice, and quiet," Mrs. Bandula said. The girls "love it here, very much."

The family has visited Poland to see grandparents and cousins.

Mr. Bandula, who was in Poland last Easter, said the country "is entirely different" since the political upheaval. He said he could see its increased Westernization as soon as he stepped off the plane; there are more restaurants and people travel more now.

And, although there have been positive changes in Poland, Mr. Bandula said, the atmosphere is too unsettled and risky.

"We plan to stay," he said.

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