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22-11-2019, 04:53 UTC
Living Czech

Sweets for my sweet, sugar for my honey...

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Hello and welcome to Living Czech. I'm Nick Carey, and I am joined today in the studio today by our very own producer, Zuzana Durèáková. Our theme for this week should be a welcome one for those of you with a sweet tooth, as it is desserts and other delicacies in Czech.

The Czechs are, in general, very fond of their mouèníky or sweets. In particular, there are very few things they love better than a good old-fashioned domácí, home-made, buchta or dort. They are both cakes, but of a different size and variety altogether. A buchta is much more likely to be a smaller cake or pastry that you can buy in a pekárna, bakery, and eat on your own. A great many of them come with mák, poppy seeds, mixed with cukr, or sugar. They are quite heavy, and take a bit of getting used to.

A dort, which comes from the German tort, unlike a buchta, is a massive creation which usually involves several gallons of krém, or cream, especially if it is èokoládový krém, or chocolate cream. You can buy a dort in a cukrárna, or literally a sugar shop. These tend to be very sweet, rich cakes, and are made for, for instance, narozeniny, birthdays, or other such celebrations. If you don't want a whole cake, you can also buy jeden kousek, or a single slice.

Another great favourite of the Czechs, but not a home-made delicacy this time, is zmrzlina, or ice cream, which is famed for being of a high quality and for having almost devoid of vowels. Zmrzlina is often served on the street, through the windows of ice cream shops, and is provided most often v kornoutu, in a cone. It is unsurprisingly extremely popular in the summer months.

Though the Czechs are generally quite traditional about the kinds of sweets and desserts that they eat, and prefer the home-made variety, they are very fond of èokoláda, chocolate and other sweets, and in particular oplatky, or wafers, which were originally pioneered in the country by Jan Becher, also the creator of the Czech Republic's most famous herbal spirit, Becherovka, in the mid-nineteenth century in the spa town of Karlovy Vary, previously known as Carlsbad. Oplatky come in all shapes and sizes, and frequently come with various chocolate fillings sandwiched in between them.

Something that I have personally found it hard to come to terms with about Czech mouèníky is that in some cases they are actually served as main courses. There are two prime examples of this. The first is ovocné knedlíky or fruit dumplings, a sweet version of the savoury knedlíky dumplings served with many of the mainstream savoury dishes, which are stuffed with fruit, and are served hot, covered with icing sugar. This a very nice dish, but I have just never managed to come to terms with it being served as a main course.

The other dish, and this is the one that turns my stomach, is called nudle s mákem, which is pasta served with poppy seeds and icing sugar. This is, as many amongst you might imagine, is a vile combination for one not used to sweet pasta. I tried this dish once, and a coming from a family where the ethos is to clean your plate at every sitting, managed to get three quarters of the way through this vile concoction before being violently ill. This is, to be fair, much the same reaction shown by many people who eat a deep fried Mars Bar for the first time, which is a bizarre delicacy in my home country of Scotland.

Well, that's all we have time for this week. Next week we will have a look at a frequent comment about the Czech language by foreigners, which is its lack of vowels. Until next time, mìjte se fajn, or take care.

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