People often recognise Prague as a destination for its Gothic architecture and iconic spires. It conjures up images of ancient castles, cobblestone streets, surrealist Kafkaesque mystery…a magical destination that captivates visitors with its charm. It’s the red-roofed buildings, the narrow alleyways, and the old-world architecture.
In Prague, as well as all over the Czech Republic, fanciful ‘Old Bohemian’ restaurants are being established, serving mainly roasted and grilled meat, soups served in loaves of bread, and similar treats. However, Czech cuisine still contains a great number of meals that are derived from the home cooking of our ancestors.
Ingredients of Czech cuisine
Amongst the most important elements of Czech cuisine is meat - pork, beef, poultry, rabbit and venison. The most common fish is fresh water carp, which is eaten primarily on Christmas Eve. Less common fish include trout, pike, zander and eel. Czech cuisine also utilises vegetables, fruits, beans and pulses, mushrooms, dairy products, grains, baked goods, vegetable and animal fat, spices, herbs and, last but not least, Czech beer.
Czech cuisine also favours various soups, which are usually served as the first course. Popular meals are also various sauces with dumplings, mushroom meals, eggs and also a great variety of baked sweet desserts. Sauce (similar to ‘gravy’ in English) and dumplings are a Czech specialty.
Sauces and dumplings
A wide variety of sauces are served with meat and dumplings – such as dill sauce (made with fresh dill), horseradish sauce, capsicum or green pepper sauce, tomato sauce, or even pickled gherkin sauce with beef; anchovy sauce with pork; or marjoram sauce with mutton. The Hungarian influence brought us the cream and sweet paprika sauces with chicken or veal.
There are many kinds of dumplings such as bread dumplings (with white or rye bread), potato dumplings, ‘hairy’ dumplings, so called because of their fuzzy surface, or dumplings filled with meat or fruits.
Beer is the most popular beverage in the Czech Republic. Small as well as large breweries are to be found throughout the country. They produce the unique Czech lager (bottom-fermented beer). The most famous brands of Czech beer are Pilsner Urquell (the original Pils) and Budvar (the original Budweiser). Beer is usually drunk with small bites of meat or cheese. Beer is consumed mainly in special beer halls or pubs, which usually have only a limited choice of meals.