Wednesday, June 2, 2010


I don't think I've talked much about the food here. Always important food. Czech food is really very good. I was worried before I came, because the guidebooks mentioned a lot of pork and bread. Pork isn't my favorite meat. From the descriptions I thought it'd be very heavy food. And to be honest it is. Just in a good way. And I have found out there's not a lot of veggies or salads here.

Case in point. Lunch on Sunday at the Hrady(castle in Czech) was Czech cab driver's goulash garnished with ham. It came with bread dumplings(which are amazing) and a slice of cucumber, a slice of tomato and some lettuce and carrots curls. In case you are wondering cab driver's goulash is like pot roast with a really nice brown gravy. I think onions were involved....but only the Czechs would garnish a beef dish with ham. Honestly where else do you see that?

And they FRY cheese. Yes, I have heard of fried mozzarella, but here it's a main dish. Usually a sandwich and served with french fries. I haven't had it. I just can't bring myself to do that to my cholestrol levels. I can barely look at it on a menu without feeling my arteries seize up.

I've had chicken with boiled potatos and potato pancakes cooked with bacon inside(really really good) and the ethnic restaurants are very nice too. Italian all over, a few Irish pubs, an Indian place near our hotel and a Muslin vegetarian place that had great pita bread and goat cheese.

But for the most part we've been frequenting places that specialize in Czech food. The grilled sausage on Monday was wonderful. Now that was a sausage! With a dark mustard and some fries and more cucumbers I was fine for the rest of the day.

Breakfast is the only meal I find disappointing. Lots of meats. And stuff I tend to consider lunch meat. Ham and salami for instance. And the steamed hot dogs to go with the scrambled eggs. Not something that's appealing at 7 am. On the other hand the bread and cheese here are great.
They have these rye bagettes in the morning that just rock. And they sprinkle them with large grained salt too. YUM. Add some Camembert and a pot of tea and some granola cereal and I can go most of the day. Although I would kill for some Greek yogurt, local honey and some fresh fruit.

I know they sell it in the store here. But it's a challenge being functionally illiterate. I could guess, but it's scary. The only yogurt I recognized was Activia, so I passed. It was terribly sobering at the bakery case. I wanted a few pastries for the morning, but had no clue what was in some of the turnovers. I was betting heavily on apple, but I know the Czech word for apple(since those are easy to spot) and this sign was different. I settled for a pain au chocolate and some type of croissant instead. I never realized how hard and confusing it would be to survive in a place where you have only the barest bones of the language. It's been a learning experience. One that I didn't expect.

Honestly go into market where the language is all different and there's not an English sign and try to buy stuff you'd eat or like. It is really tough. I bought what I thought was turkey meat in the deli case last Friday. Nope. Ham, from another area in the country. And if you thought there were only one or two kinds of salami you are sadly mistaken. There are more kinds of salami here in one deli case than I knew existed on the whole planet. All are amazingly good. What the Czech does to pork is mind blowing. Pork knees, pickled sausage, ham, salami, name it.

Then they have dumplings of potato. Bread dumplings are for the meal, usually to soak up gravy, while potato ones are sweet. They usually smother them in fruit. One is served in a blueberry sauce with cream. Another kind is where the fruit is wrapped in them. They make the dough, add the fruit, steam them and done! They are especially easy and good in the summer, I've learned. Not seen sweet potatos here. What could be done with those! But they don't seem to be traditional like potatos are, although both are New World things, so not sure why one and not the other.

Poppy seeds are really big as a sweet here too. They grind them and mix it with sugar. It looks like dirt. Really. We had another dumpling dish(not as good as the blueberry one, but I love blueberries) and it had all this dirt on it. It was poppy seeds. It was good, but daunting at first. Then there were the danish at the public library tour. One looked like it had mud in it. But again poppy seed paste. I mean it was black. Good though.
As Barbara(our fearless leader) said “I haven't met Czech food I didn't like.” it might have something to do with the Irish and Scottish part of my heritage though. Potatos, bread and meat. Probably encoded on my DNA somewhere.

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