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Czech cuisine: meeting expectations

Czech cuisine is one of the most stable and predictable. The game of tastes, unexpected combinations of products — this is not for the Czechs.

What they really can boast about is the constancy and solidity of traditions: the inhabitants of Prague, Brno and Pardubice like to dine just about what their great-great-grandfathers dined.

Come to Prague even now, even after fifty years — nothing in food will change, it will be just as satisfying and tasty.

In the character of the Czech there is calm, prudence, restraint: to meet the violent Czech in Prague — this you must be very lucky.

Czech is sure that he lives right — and in his future too.

The cornerstone of the national worldview is the reliance on traditions that exists within the Czech itself, without straining state propaganda.

A Czech truly loves his small but very cozy little world, which includes not only his house, but also the nearest streets — and certainly the beer-house, the beer-house.

There he will receive his mandatory half-liter of beer (in the Czech Republic prefer half-liter mugs, rather than liter mugs, as in Bavaria) and a substantial portion of good food.

It is characteristic that the people of Prague love to go to the same pub.

Such a regular visitor is referred to as the German word «ping».

He knows everyone there well, and everyone knows him too well — and they remember that he prefers to eat and drink. The waiters can give him a roast duck or boar knee, even without asking what he will order.

And poured favorite beer.

In food, the inhabitants of the Czech Republic, as in everything else, are respectable burghers and conservatives.

Well cooked goulash or green meat soup with sauerkraut, they prefer any exotic.

From a large saucepan, which is usually ordered for a company, I’m pouring the third plate of the green badge with a ladle; and the “author” of the soup is sitting next to him — Jaroslav Dolejal, the chef of two establishments called “At the Hare” (in Prague and in the small town of Kinsperk nad Ohří) — and tells me about Czech gastronomic conservatism.

“Czechs live in a big world, in a united Europe, and, of course, they know about the cuisine of other countries. And yet, native recipes have absolute value for them. A person comes to a pub (and Czech restaurants — mostly beer houses) and orders for beer what he loves since childhood, what he knows well.

Therefore, there is no point in changing Czech cuisine, imitating modern international tastes: people ask their own, in the form in which they are used to seeing it. Before the chef is the task — to meet expectations. Approximately 85% of tourists also ask for local food.

Yes, it will seem to someone too heavy, simple, old-fashioned. But if you have already arrived in Prague, why not try to find among our dishes what will be to your liking? ”

Once they started talking about tourists, the natural question to Yaroslav is: is there a “new Czech cuisine” oriented towards modern trends?

Something like “new Scandinavian” is when chefs from Denmark and Sweden, having thoroughly studied modern “molecular” methods and fusion principles, are trying to cook the freshest local products in a new way and thanks to this their restaurants get Michelin stars? Yaroslav Dolezhal shrugs, and considers the very idea of ​​modernizing the national cuisine destructive for the national culinary traditions. “Czech cuisine cannot be modernized,” he says. — Its main value is not local products (they are just not unique), but old recipes.

Therefore, any influence — even the French, even the Italian, even the inoculation of molecular cuisine — will be disastrous for her: someone else will simply force out her own, the Czechness will disappear, that’s all.

Therefore, chefs who are seriously involved in Czech cuisine are fusion negative. There is a saying we have: «Shoemaker, hold on to your shoe.»

Very accurately said!

Otherwise, the Czech Republic will lose its face — and to some extent its attractiveness. ”

Czechs are practical and hard-working people. And they love to eat seriously.

Traditional Czech cuisine — the third-class cuisine, the food of citizens and peasants.

It never was aristocratic (like the Czech aristocracy).

Hence the dominance of hearty, high-calorie meals, simple foods and cooking methods.

In the Czech Republic like thick, rich soups (with potatoes, cereals), goulash, all kinds of dishes with sausages, meat with thick gravy and always with dumplings, which have become almost a symbol of Czech cuisine.

Meat sauces are simple — based on broth, cereals, sour cream, tomato paste or beer.

“Tasting portions and multiple serving is not a Czech version,” says Yaroslav Dolezhal. — The plate should be large and well filled. Now it has become fashionable to serve dishes on the boards — on them, after all, a lot fits, and the food looks very impressive. To this it is worth adding that the Czechs traditionally do not like and do not understand painting on a plate — when it is beautiful in a museum, but for one bite.

There should be no cheating in the kitchen; by the appearance of the dish one can always understand what it is cooked from and what it tastes like ”.

It is customary for Czechs to limit themselves to one, but a very satisfying dish. And if the beer menu says that the boar’s knee (pork leg) can be ordered for two, this does not mean that the Czechs themselves do it. Many people eat up their entire knee — and don’t order anything else.

In addition to beer.

The menu of Czech restaurants has many names familiar from German, Austrian, Hungarian cuisine.

For example, goulash — the Czechs put pepper in it less than the Hungarians, and served with dumplings.

The Czechs and the strudel, which is most often cooked with apples, are known, although cherry cherries are not forgotten.

And they make it with fish, meat, poultry, mushrooms, cabbage, potatoes and served with spicy sauce or sour cream, and vegetable sliced. a beer mug.

Czech sausages are very good — Liberec sausages; Spish sausages; pork fillet and burshty with fat; similar to them (but larger) Moravian sausages; long, thin, smoked “Tramp cigars”; Ostrava sausages — very sooty, in the black gut.

But here, too, deja vu: all this reminds of Germany, Austria, Hungary.

A suspicion arises: is it not a deception of all this vaunted «Czechness»? Maybe something average Central European has been declared Czech, and Czech cuisine doesn’t exist at all? “Of course,” the chief unexpectedly agrees, “because our peoples have a common history. Schnitzel, strudel, goulash, sausages, pork leg — all these dishes were cooked in large areas that belonged to Germany, Austria-Hungary.

This, of course, is a historical commonality of tastes: the fates of the Czechs, Germans and Austrians have been intertwined since ancient times and so closely that it is impossible to draw a clear line between local and neighboring gastronomic traditions. ”

More interesting is the question of local products.

The Czechs never went crazy on specialties — moreover, Czech chefs consider chicken, pork, dairy pigs from Germany to be better quality than their native meat.

They are reluctant to work with American beef, but with pleasure — with German, which has a familiar taste, almost Czech, only better.

Thanks to the German quality standards, there was a noticeable jump in the Czech cuisine of the post-Soviet period.

German is a kind of czech support.

I continue to torture the chef about local specialties. “Dumplings,” he predictably says. “It’s very easy to find frozen in stores, and the Czechs are happy to buy them, but serious chefs, of course, always cook dumplings in the restaurant’s kitchen.”

The Czechs also have their own original sausage cooking recipes. Such, for example, bursht goulash — bacon, stewed in a beer sauce.

The same shpikachki Czechs can marinate. Once upon a time there lived a miller Pan Shamanek, who owned not only a mill, but also a pub.

Once a wonderful thought occurred to him: to store the bacon in a sour marinade. Over time, the marinad miller began to add onions and spices. Snack enjoyed incredible success: it would be nourishing, tasty, spicy, just like a beer!

And then Mr. Shamanek drowned, repairing the mill wheel, and since then the marinated salted pork sausages have been sullenly called “utopians”.

In many beer containers with utopentsami stands right on the bar.

And another example of the original Czech appetizers, when someone else’s product is used quite differently. Take cheese with a white moldy crust — it can be French Camembert, and its inexpensive Czech equivalent of hermelin; chop the cheese into large chunks, put in a jar, shifting pepper, onion, garlic, paprika, chili, mustard seeds, bay leaf, herbs, pour it all with vegetable oil (now most often use olive oil) and refrigerate for two weeks.

The French will not understand this abuse of Camembert, and the Czechs prepare, serve to beer and extol.

The main Czech specialty is, of course, beer.

The most different varieties — lounger and pils, light, dim and dark, wheat and rye, beetroot, honey — and nettle. The last three options suggest that in the barley beer at the stage of ripening an additional ingredient will be added in a very small amount, which will only slightly add to the taste of the beer and give an additional shade to its color.

Czech nettle beer, for example, is loved at Easter.

Beer occupies an important place in the kitchen. “Beer and meat for any Czech chef are two whales, and there is simply no third,” Jaroslav Dolezhal jokes.

Beer is beer sauces and marinades.

This is the basis of gravy for meat. This is a beer marmalade and jam.

This is a dough. This is platzki and bramborichki. The dough for pancake-platzek goes both beer and “mlate” — a pellet from malt, already used in the process of beer production.

In bramborichki — analogue of pancakes — also goes malt pellet, which gives the texture of crispy potato pancakes.

Try to cook — see how unlike this is the Belarusian-Ukrainian version that we are used to!

Plum and Pear — local analogues of Serbian rakia and Hungarian Palinka. Looks like them and brewer — with the only difference that this distillate is being driven from beer (this reminds the brew of whiskey, but unlike the latter, it is not kept in barrels).

Are very popular in the Czech Republic herbal tinctures — “Fernet” and “Becherovka”.

In addition, the Czech Republic in recent years has become one of the leaders in the production of absinthe, which is not inferior to the French and Spanish counterparts.

Karlovy Vary waffles — round, thin, sweet and stuffed.

The tradition of baking these waffles goes back to the 16th century.

Long since they were prepared with chocolate and nut filling, now there are much more types of filling — from apple to herbal liqueur.

The law requires that these waffles be prepared only with the addition of water from Karlovy Vary mineral springs.

Pardubice gingerbread. Pardubice is the capital of gingerbread (“pernikov”), Czech Tula and Nuremberg in one person. Gingerbread is made from dough, which is added honey, syrup, icing and various spices — anise, coriander, cinnamon, black pepper.

Pardubice gingerbread made in the form of houses, funny little men, castles and much more.

You can, by the way, buy a gingerbread in the form of an animated Mole known to all children, here his name is Krtek.

Moravian wine. In terms of gastronomy, the Czech Republic is divided into two parts — South Moravia and the rest of the Czech Republic — that is, Northern Moravia, Bohemia, and Czech Silesia.

Differentiation follows the principle of beer: in all the mentioned regions, except for South Moravia, they drink beer and cook with beer, and in South Moravia they know and love the local wine — red and white, ice (eiswein) and straw (from grapes grown on straw).

While the differences between South Moravian and Western Bohemian cuisine are minimal, traditional dishes here are no longer adapted to beer, but to wine — and there will be no beer sauces and placer with grains here.

But there will be numerous options Uzenins — dried, dried, smoked meat, which the people of Moravia like to serve for wine.

Czech Cheese Molds,as a rule, very spirited.

National specialty is considered hermelin (hermelin) — however, the local cheese with white mold has other names.

Cheese Vltavin — with two types of mold, white on the outside and blue on the inside.

Beer mug or glass.

The most correct container for beer is not at all with a view of Prague (this is just a souvenir), but with the logo of a brewery.

But the beer containers have no standard form: everything from which you can drink beer is always respected in the Czech Republic.

Bohemian glass, known since the XI century, is one of the business cards of the Czech Republic. It is not cheap.

Please note: buying a Bohemian glass in tourist shops, you risk running into a fake, which has nothing to do with the Bohemian tradition.

You need to buy it in company stores, preferably from the factories themselves.

Tsibulak (cibulák) — Czech analogue of Gzhel and Delft porcelain. The name refers to the onion: the originally borrowed from the Chinese ornament necessarily included the fruits of pomegranate, but over time the garnet transformed into a bow.

Now only “onion” porcelain produced in the city of Dubi is considered authentic.

Mugs with spout for mineral water.

Water in Karlovy Vary is customary to drink from mugs with a hollow handle and spout. There is a controversial theory that salts of mineral water can damage tooth enamel, and the nose reduces contact with enamel.

Original flat circles can be the most bizarre forms — in the form of animals, flowers, decorated with patterns.

Yaroslav Dolezhal — The chef of two institutions called «At the Hare.» One of them is located in Prague (on Mikhalskaya Street, a few meters from Old Town Square), the other is in the small town of Kinsperk nad Ohří, at the Kinspersky Brewery brewery. The chef is convinced that with all the uncomplicated Czech cuisine, the final result always depends only on the skill of the one who stands at the stove.

Yaroslav shared with us the signature recipes from the restaurant menu.

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