what is the difference between podać and podawać? Wiktionary and another Polish dictionary I have both list podać as meaning to serve (including food), but do not mention podawać.
"podać" is perfective, "podawać" is imperfective.
Perfective verbs denote actions that are finished, imperfective are for actions that are either not-finished (or we don't know/don't care) or habitual. Because perfective focuses on the result, it is impossible to use perfective verbs in the Present Tense.
Why does giving us lunch not work, giving serving handing pretty much all mean the same in my language.
Still, "giving" would just be "daje". The difference is more of a nuance, but there is one.