Hello and welcome to Living Czech. I'm Nick Carey, and I am joined today in the studio by Jana Durcakova. Our theme for this week is Czech cuisine. What is it like, and what is it called?
One of the main dishes you will find it hard to avoid in the Czech Republic is gulá¹. This is a much thicker variation of the original Hungarian goulash dish, which is served up in a bowl and is more like a soup. You can get gulá¹ová, or goulash soup in the Czech Republic, but it is a much rarer form of the dish. The typical gulá¹ will consist of lumps of vepøové, pork or more usually hovìzí, beef with onions and pepper in a thick gravy. This dish is always accompanied by knedlíky, or dumplings, to soak up all of the gravy.
Knedlíky, dumplings, come in three main styles. There are the houskové knedlíky, or bread dumplings, which are fairly fluffy and extra absorbent, bramborové knedlíky, or potato dumplings, which are very stodgy and heavy, and ¹pekové knedlíky, or potato dumplings made with bacon fat.
Knedlíky accompany many of the meals in the Czech Republic, and for the most part these dishes tend to be made with pork, as it is a staple part of the Czech diet. Traditionally, these dishes are also served with zelí or sauerkraut. There is, for example the Moravský vrabec, or literally Moravian Sparrow, a dish that consists of very fatty lumps of pork, potato dumplings and sauerkraut. It may not sound that enticing, but it is actually very tasty and was my favourite Czech dish until my arteries solidified. No-one I have ever met knows why it is called a Moravian Sparrow.
Straying away from meat, there are some traditional vegetarian dishes, or as they are referred to on Czech menus bezmasá jídla, or literally meatless dishes, that are worth mentioning. There is the sma¾ený sýr, or fried cheese in breadcrumbs, which is served with tatarská omáèka, Tartar sauce and hranolky, French fries. Another favourite is sma¾ené ¾ampiony, or fried mushrooms, which are also served with Tartar sauce. Both of these dishes are very tasty, but also guaranteed to increase your blood pressure.
Although this is the wrong way round, let's take a look at starters. A very common starter in pubs is utopenec, which literally means drowned man. This is a pickled sausage served with pickled onions and is eaten with bread. You could also try a nakládaný hermelín, or pickled brie. Interestingly enough hermelín also means ermine. Both of these are great, but less appealing is tlaèenka, or brawn, which is bits of and brain and whatnot pressed in jelly, and is served with raw onions, vinegar and bread. The term tlaèenka actually comes from the verb tlaèit, to push or press, and describes the process of pressing the meat to make this dish. Unlike all of the other dishes I have mentioned so far, I would recommend giving tlaèenka a wide berth.
You could also try some soup. The Czechs have some great soups, such as the èesneková, or garlic, which is highly recommended for fans of garlic, but to be avoided before going on a date. Cibulaèka, or onion soup is delicious, with croutons and melted cheese, but again there is one dish here to avoid, and that is dr¹»ková or tripe soup. I think the less said about that one the better.
Salads, of course, are always available. The most popular Czech salad, as is testified to by its availability almost everywhere, is ¹opský salát, or Greek salad, which is made with tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers and Feta cheese.
Well, that's it for this week as all this talk of food has made me hungry. Next week we will take a look at summer activities in Czech. Until next time, mìjte se fajn, or take care.
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