All About Czech FOOD

In America, we have a little bit of every type of food. Italian, Japanese, Thai, Greek, the list goes on. Let me ask you this: have you ever seen a Czech restaurant? Because I never have. So, I wasn’t sure what to expect in the Czech Republic. Czechia is not a place globally known for their food, therefore the food isn’t really a common presence in other countries. So, I’m dedicating this blog to give a very basic breakdown of the food you can find in the Czech Republic.

Overall, there’s a pretty nice variety, but traditional Czech foods are pretty common anywhere you go.

The traditional dishes are all very heavy, and are typically made from lots of hearty plants because of the cold climate here. The most traditional meal is Svíčková, which

Svickova
Svíčková

is braised beef or pork with dumplings and a sauce. Oh, and cabbage. You can’t forget the cabbage. There are many other meals that are different variations of this- different sauces, either bread or potato dumplings, filled or unfilled dumplings (typically unfilled), different meats, different cabbage, etc. This is typically served as a lunch food because lunch is the biggest meal and it WILL keep you full for the rest of the day.

I’m no food reviewer, but I’ll add that I find this meal delicious. The meat is always cooked so delicately that it pairs well with the dumplings, and then the acidity of the sauce and cabbage cuts the savoriness and helps bring out the flavors of the meat. A very good balance, I highly recommend trying to track some down.

Now, in general, the heartier the plant is, the more common it is. Czechia is a very “meat and potatoes” kind of place for just that reason. Pickled things (especially cabbage) are also common.

To sum it up:

  • Red meats are more common than white, like sausages, braised beef, roasted pork
  • The most common vegetables are root vegetables like cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes, cabbage, celery, and cabbage. Oh, and did I mention cabbage? I never knew there were so many types of cabbage before coming here!
  • Fruit, as far as I can tell, isn’t very prominent here. Fruit gelato and marmalade, however, is very common. It could be because fruit season has already peaked, but besides cranberries and the occasional banana, I haven’t seen a whole lot of fruit offered in restaurants.
  • Another interesting thing is that all the bread here is rye bread. Rye has been a traditional crop in Central Europe since the middle ages, so everything made in the stores will have at least 30% rye in it, and caraway seeds are a common addition as well.
  • Finally, let’s have a chat about cheese. Cheese might as well be its own food group
    Fried Cheese
    Artery-Clogging Fried Cheese

    here because it is very common and very popular. By a landslide, the most common type of cheese is eidam, which is originally from the Netherlands but was modified (by reducing the fat content and using the German name) and is now a proud Czech specialty. I’ll also add that cheese isn’t so much used as a topping as it is the main dish. We’re talking about fried cheese, people! My goodness is it amazing. I can affirm that you will likely feel your arteries begin to clog as you take each bite, but it is 100% worth it.

 

Now for my favorite part of any meal: DESSERT!

I absolutely love dessert. Favorite meal of the day, no competition. When I got here, to make the adjustment process easier, I told myself that whenever anything bad or inconvenient happened that I would make it better by getting dessert. So, I’ve had a lot of desserts.

By far the most common dessert products you’ll see will have wafers of some sort.

Colache
Poppy seed Kolache

Wafers have been a Czech specialty since the 1800’s, where the thin, crispy, and slightly sweet wafers were handed out to spa guests. Now they’re in around 75% of the treats here.

If you’re looking for hand-crafted desserts, you find a lot of flour-based creations. So, you see a lot of cakes, pastries, cream-puff looking things, etc. There are so many desserts that I could ramble on about, but I’ll stick with my current favorite: kolache. It’s similar to a Danish in that it’s dough with cream cheese, but it’s the filling that makes the difference. Poppy seed is a very common dessert filling here, and the traditional kolaches will have poppy seeds or jam in the middle.

I can go on and on about all the amazing and unique foods I’ve tried here, but I think the best option is to just come and taste for yourself. I’ll be happy to share!


Hannah Langford

CZECH REPUBLIC – MASARYK UNIVERSITY, 2018 FALL

Hannah Langford is taking a break from studying Integrated Sciences at DU to study history and culture at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. She’s looking forward to exploring the unique geography and outdoor opportunities in the area and the surrounding countries. She’s also looking  forward to eating a lot of chocolate.

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Comparison is the Thief of Joy

I’ve been in the Czech Republic for about 2 weeks now, and as any study abroad student can agree, it’s been a whirlwind. The most important lesson I’ve learned thus far has been that you will love your new life so much more when you stop comparing it to the one you had before.

The culture shock has been the most intense when I have the mindset of Czech Republic vs. U.S. Of COURSE it’s not Colorado, so why compare the two?

Is the food different? Yes. Is the cellular plan weird? A little. Are the new classes confusing? Absolutely. But when I stop thinking ugh this was so much easier in the U.S. or why does the Czech Republic have to be so confusing? And start simply acknowledging things, taking them in as facts, and MOVING ON, I find so much more joy. I remind myself that I am here to learn a new culture. I am not here to look at this culture and judge, I am here to absorb and learn. Accepting the latter has allowed me to find enjoyment in getting lost (all the time), see the beauty of the new, and overall become adjusted much faster.

Now with that out of the way, here’s what a lack of comparison has showed me in my first few weeks in Czechia:

 

hannah-pic-2.jpg

  • Brno has really interesting art…

Like this clock. Yup. Clock. This is a newer art installment that took 3 years to build and over half a million US dollars. Every day at 11am a marble comes out of the clock via 4 slots. People wait at each of the slots in hopes of catching the marble. And…that’s it.

At first this piece seems a little…random…but it actually commemorates one of the country’s most difficult wars: The Thirty Years’ War. Basically, the Swedes had been trying to take over the city for 3 months, but Brno wouldn’t give up. So, finally, the Swedish general said that if Brno was still standing by noon the next day, his army would give up. So, the people of Brno decided to set all the clocks to ring 12 an hour early-11am- and the Swedes kept their promise and gave up. My goal in life is to now catch that marble.

hannah pic 3

  • It’s very easy to travel! But difficult to navigate

As any family member or close friend can attest to, I am not directionally gifted. At all. Because of this, I spent my first week in a constant state of cluelessness. If I was unsupervised, you could guarantee I was also lost somewhere. However, I ended up seeing SO much more of the city this way! More time on the bus meant more time to look out the window. I found a gym, a zoo, and the reservoir, all by accident. Although I don’t recommend this type of self-tour, take some time to just look out the window, you’ll learn a lot.

Almost contrary to this, I’d like to add that it is actually quite easy to travel around. Mainly because public transportation is the most common form of transportation, you can get pretty much anywhere on your own. In addition, it is cheap. Very cheap. Like going-to-a-different-country-for-$10 cheap. And that’s before the student discount!

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  • Everything is beautiful!

Did you know that the Czech Republic has the most castles per square footage in the world?? Or that Czechia is shaped like a bowl, where the bowl’s rim are the mountains? Or that buildings are always refurbished instead of being replaced? Now imagine what that looks like. It looks like red rooftops as far as the eye can see. Colorful buildings with intricate molding everywhere you turn.  Cobblestone everywhere (warning: easy to sprain ankles). Artistic statues scattered throughout the city. Castles placed on every hill. Even the McDonald’s look nice! If you don’t want to go to Czechia for anything else, go for the beauty. (And bring a camera.)

 

Takeaway: Don’t compare. Theodore Roosevelt was right when he stated that comparison was the thief of joy. Throw comparison out the window and instead immerse yourself in the new and you’ll find something much better.


Hannah Langford

CZECH REPUBLIC – MASARYK UNIVERSITY, 2018 FALL

Hannah Langford is taking a break from studying Integrated Sciences at DU to study history and culture at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. She’s looking forward to exploring the unique geography and outdoor opportunities in the area and the surrounding countries. She’s also looking  forward to eating a lot of chocolate.

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