Confession time: I love unhealthy food. Well, maybe this isn’t such a big confession but after my year of travelling I seriously craved the big savoury German cuisine and dug right in into potato dumplings, lots of gravy and big meat dishes. Since I had been invited to the Czech Republic by Czech Tourism and was supposed to visit lots of places and also dine at restaurants (yay!), I took it upon me to document my foodie journey for you and ate as much as I possibly could. There have been some nice revelations but also some very bad awakenings.
Let’s start off with the ultimate Czech dishes, which all get a green light from my taste buds. The current typical Czech meals are usually very much meat based and involve lots of thick sauces. Vegetables you will not find so much as they are not really used as sided dishes but rather stewed or cooked into soups that are starters to the main meal.
So, the dish I tried more than once (and which varied in the size of the servings as seems to be common in the Czech Republic as far as I could make out) was the classic Svíčková na smetaně, which is a beef sirloin served with thick sauce that is kinda sweet and hard to pinpoint as well as dumplings, whipped cream and cranberries. It will definitely fill you up but be so worth it! The second classic is Vepřo-knedlo-zelo. This one comes with roast pork as well as dumplings and sauerkraut, which is a common side dish (yes, a vegetable!).
If you are a vegetarian or don’t want to be full quite yet – especially in anticipation of the meal that’s to come – a popular starter is the fried cheese that is served with tartar sauce and a side salad (vegetables!). Another option is to taste Czech bread with different spreads as well as a side salad, usually consisting of three salad leaves.
My option, however, always revolved around soups, such as beef soup with dumplings (hovězí polévka s játrovými knedlíčky) or cabbage soup (zelňačka) made from sauerkraut (see recipe below!). You can also try the Czech version of the Hungarian goulash, which can come in a hollowed out crispy bread bun.
Pastries and Sweets
I said that meals usually involve three courses, well but the desserts are also pretty standard and who doesn’t like a third course anyway? The one thing that you will encounter all over Prague would be trdelnik, which actually is Slovak, so don’t fall for that. It is a pastry cake sprinkled with sugar and walnuts. But you can try anyway. Another not very Czech sweet are lebkuchen, which are beautifully painted with icing sugar and quite the eye catcher. They didn’t do much tastewise, though, but then again I am not a fan of eating gingerbread.
Dishes that are more classical and super filling are filled pancakes with ice cream or dumplings with blueberry sauce. If you want a little less, I can recommend cakes, which all have been super delicious, for instance banana caramel, lime cheesecake and cream and berry. As snacks, a must try are the big wafers filled with chocolate, vanilla or other creams. I also tried the chocolate bar Margot and was not pleased. It had a very dominant taste of rum, in my opinion, which I don’t like.
Now to my new obsession: kofola. I cannot even describe what it tastes like, maybe a hint of liquorice that is actually nice but mostly it is just great. It is based on kofo syrup made from caffeine. At first, it is just a little odd and the people I encouraged to try some didn’t develop the same inclination. The more for me, then! At the moment they come in 5 different flavours and I hoarded them all.
If you are looking for alcoholic beverages, beer is plenty to choose from, so don’t just take the Budweiser Budvar (Budějovický Budvar). For more, you can try wines, liquors (Fernet Stock and Becherovka) and brandies as well. By the way, tipping is usually 10% and not included in the bill.
Now, all of this was good. But there has been one particular dish that I could not eat at all. And I never not eat food I ordered, so this case was rather a special one. I am a big fan of potato pancakes and so when I saw the dish of the same with sauerkraut and smoked meat, I was all down for it despite the weird combination. Weird doesn’t even describe the sensation I had when I put the fork in my mouth.
The sauerkraut and sauce had made the potatoes soggy and the sourness of the kraut had crept into everything and creating a bad taste. However, that being said, there was a Czech couple on the table next to mine and they happily nodded when tasting the dish. They loved it! I guess I don’t have acquired Czech taste buds for it.
Conclusion and Recipe for Bohemian Cabbage Soup
So, I would definitely recommend Czech cuisine to all non-vegetarians and meat lovers especially. I was happy with it and I was super full throughout the whole week, which was a nice feeling, although it was not the best for being super active and hiking. But before I leave you with a watering mouth, I will make it just a little bit worse and better at the same time with the following recipe, I just had to snag as it was absolutely divine! Enjoy!
What You Need:
400 g cabbage, cut
1 big onion, chopped
100 g pork belly, sliced
2 EL tomato paste
2 EL paprika powder, sweet
1/2 L water
salt and pepper
2 sausages (debreziner)
2 EL flour
4 EL crème fraîche
Here’s How to:
Roast the onion with the pork. Then add the tomato paste and paprika powder to the water as well as the cabbage, salt and pepper. Stir well and cook till smooth. Now, cut the sausages into slices and add to the soup, bind with flour and bring to boil again. Taste and maybe add some more spices for flavour. After the taste is right, service and add the crème fraîche to the plate.
I would like to thank Czech Tourism again for inviting me and giving me the opportunity to become familiar with all the great Czech food. As always, my opinion and taste bud experiences are my own. The recipe I took from Chefkoch.de.