Czech Cuisine

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A lot of Czech meals are very greasy and are sometimes very high in calories and sugar. Nevertheless, Czech foods have a fine and gentle taste, and do not contain a lot of spicy ingredients.

Czech meals are based generally on meat dishes. That may be the reason why, for the majority of Czech men, a meal isn´t a meal unless it has meat.

There is a vast variety of meats the Czechs prepare, such as pork, beef, chicken, goose, duck, rabbit, wild game, lamb or turkey. As the Czech Republic does not have access to the sea, eating fish or seafood is not a norm. There are, however, plenty of lakes, streams, artificial lakes and fish farms where Czechs can get their fish from. During the summer time, mackerel is a very popular fish to grill out.

The dishes are generally accompanied with potatoes, rice, pasta, bread or dumplings. Different delicious cream sauces are also a Czech speciality.

Like many Europeans, Czech people have a passion about picking mushrooms. There are a lot of forests around the Czech countryside and Czech people are fond of hiking. They like to combine their culinary and sport hobbies and go searching for mushrooms in the woods.

Dumplings and Potatoes
Heavy and filling meals are accompanied with spongy and fluffy bread dumplings (knedlíky) or smaller potato dumplings. They are both boiled as a roll of dough, then cut and served in slices.

The most common side dish is potatoes (brambory). They are served boiled, roasted or mashed. There are a lot of main dishes made of potatoes as, for example, bramboráky, which is a fried pancake made from grated raw potatoes, garlic and some spices. Another potato dish, is a potato pancake made from mashed potatoes.

Traditional Classics
There are two dishes that are considered to be traditional. The first one is Vepřová pečeně s knedlíky a se zelím, colloquially called vepřo-knedlo-zelo, it is roast pork with dumplings and sauerkraut. The second one is svíčková, which is marinated beef sirloin in a cream sauce with a teaspoon of cranberry compote and whipped cream on the top.

Soups
Czech Republic is a soup country. Soup is the traditional meal starter. It may even be served as the sole main course, together with bread. The typical soups are potato soup (bramboračka), garlic soup with fried bread crumbs (česnečka), sauerkraut soup (zelňačka), tripe soup (dršťkovka), creamy mushroom soup from South Bohemia called kulajda, beef soup with liver dumplings, dill soup (koprovka) from sour milk with eggs. There are also legume soups from peas, beans, and lentils.

Sweet Dishes
Czech people eat sweet meals as a main dish. Žemlovka or zemlbába is an apple cinnamon bread pudding or it can also be called a bread pie. It is made of bread or panini rolls, grated apples and cinnamon. The bread slices are soaked in milk and then layered with an apple mixture.

Fruit dumplings (ovocné knedlíky) are filled with plums, blueberries, strawberries or other fruit. The fruit is wrapped in the dough and boiled. Then, it is topped with sugar, cream cheese and melted butter.

Also, noodles or pasta can be served with ground poppy seeds, a lot of sugar and melted butter.

Czech Cuisine Highlights
Utopenci which are frankfurters marinated in vinegar with onions, pickled peppers and spices. The marinating of food is very popular! There is even a pickled Camembert cheese (nakládaný hermelín).

Czech people like to eat fried cheese. It is called smažený sýr or smažák and it is a 1 cm thick slice of cheese, battered, and then fried. It is served with tartar sauce and potatoes. There is a local curd cheese (olomoucké syrečky) from Olomouc, Moravia. It is a ripened, pungent cheese with a strong odour which chases even vampires away.

Medovník is a honey cake usually served in restaurants, but Czechs like to prepare it at home as well. It is a very elaborate cake with a lot of layers and a strong sweet taste.

The origins of koláč in Bohemia or frgál in Moravia come from the Wallachian part of Czech Republic. It is a large round pastry which is usually divided like a pie chart. In each part, there is a different ingredient and different flavours.

Food History and Foreign Influences
Czech food has been influenced by the countries that surround her. For instance, it took from Germany roast goose, sauerkraut and dumplings. During the reign of Ferdinand I, the lands of the Hapsburg dynasty expanded over Central Europe. For this reason, Czech food was also enriched with Hungarian goulash. Though, Czech guláš differs in the thickness of the soup consistency and is accompanied with bread dumplings.

Austria contributed the schnitzel and so called šunkofleky. It is made from ham and home-made noodles; a meal which was prepared during the times when there was very little money. Slovakia's traditional sweet pastry called trdelník is also popular in the Czech Republic. It is sold on the streets as a roll of dough topped with sugar, vanilla or nuts.

Another Eastern European influence brought to the Czech Republic was apple strudel. Served with vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream, and little buns with vanilla cream sauce called buchtičky s krémem or buchtičky se šodó.