Those of you who know me know I’m fairly simple. I live to eat, drink, hike, and travel. So while Campskunk is traveling across Europe in his Roadtrek, I ate my way across a good swath of the Czech Republic. Every country and culture has its own foods, and I try them all. Sometimes I find something great, other times, well, let’s just say that a traditional Japanese breakfast of cold rice, raw egg, and beans fermented to a slime doesn’t hold a candle to pancakes, bacon, and maple syrup.
Much of the traditional Czech food is peasant food – that means simple to make, usually consisting of ingredients found in your garden or the neighbor’s farm. Apricots and plums are a staple, as are apples and currants and gooseberries. All can be grown in your garden. Beet sugar, butter, and tvaroh, a fresh cheese called “quark” in English, are also common. Meat used to be expensive, so chicken, rabbit, and pork – all easy to raise – are common. Beef is now commonly available and American style steak is starting to be served, but I can eat steak in the US…..
So back to my trip. We always start off with fruit dumplings. These are, in their simplest form, a boiled ball of dough with a fruit inside. Sprinkle some sugar, butter, tvaroh, and maybe sour cream on top and you have a meal. Fruit dumplings are filled with almost anything; plums, apricots, blueberries, poppy seeds… Pretty much any kind of fruit you can find. Easy to make, simple, and delicious. They’re also sold frozen or prepared at most grocery stores. For an alternative, you can also get them filled with meat; in that case skip the sugar.
Then there are the two staple meals – svíčková and guláš. Both are served with bread dumplings. Dumplings are basically boiled bread; the tricky part is getting the right flour. Svíčková is a well-done sirloin tip in a cream sauce. The meat portion is typically quite small; 100 grams (4 oz) is typical although it’s now getting larger.
Then there are párky v rohlíku , a hot dog in a roll. Literally inside the roll.
And of course deep fried cheese; no pics of that as I was too busy eating it to take pictures. The cheese is typically Hermelín. It’s awesome.
Then there are deserts. The Czechs devote an incredible amount of effort and creativity to deserts. Any decent Czech cookbook will be half-full of deserts and even many of the main dishes are sugared up (see the fruit dumplings for example.)
So on your next trip, eat the strange foods, go to the local restaurants, stay away from any place with menus in English, try different things and have a culinary adventure.