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What you must taste in the Czech Republic – part 2

photo:  (czechtourism.com)

The first part of this “gastro” series was devoted to primarily the main dishes that a visitor to the Czech Republic should taste. However, the variety and tastiness of sweet foods and titbits, which are also on the menu in restaurants, should not be ignored.

Sweet specialities and desserts

  • Sweet dumplings – Sweet foods include the especially popular sweet dumplings, prepared either from yeast or potato dough and filled with fruit (strawberries, apricots, plums) or jam. They are served sprinkled with poppy seeds, grated quark cheese or nuts and topped with melted butter. This sweet dish is often served as the main dish and children simply love it.
  • Czech buns – a dessert prepared from yeast dough and filled with poppy seeds, jam or quark cheese. They are regarded as a typical old Bohemian dessert.
  • Pardubice gingerbread – a honey-sweet dark brown pastry that is lavishly decorated. The original production location is the town of Pardubice. Gingerbread is often cut into various shapes – the most popular motif is a heart. He who does not purchase a gingerbread heart at a fair is like a person who did not even go the fair. You can symbolically profess your love to the one you hold dear and then both of you can enjoy eating it together.
  • Štramberk ears – a popular regional confectionery product made from gingerbread dough shaped into a cone. The name is derived from the town of Štramberk, where it is also made. In 2007, they became a protected product in the European Union as an original food product.
  • Frgál – a traditional pie from the Wallachia region in the shape of large round pies, the history of which dates back more than 200 years. They are usually filled with quark cheese and garnished with jam and poppy seeds or marmalade. They were traditionally baked during celebrations and holidays, such as Christmas and Easter.

Cold dishes and titbits
If you are not very hungry and do not crave something sweet but would like to taste a typical food from the Czech Republic, then titbits to go along with beer or wine are ideal – or just something small and tasty. On menus they are often listed under Starters or directly in a special section called Titbits (Chuťovky). Many certainly do not belong to healthy cuisine, but they go perfectly with beer.

Traditional pub titbits served with beer in the Czech Republic include an utopenec, a sausage pickled in spiced vinegar. A pig slaughter speciality, headcheese with onions and vinegar, and camembert pickled in oil with garlic and hot peppers are delicious with cold beer on tap. A popular beer delicacy, although it does not smell great, is beer cheese. This category also includes two other cheeses popular especially among beer drinkers: romadur, similar to Limburger but softer and milder, and olomoucké tvarůžky, a ripened soft cheese with a pungent taste, with fresh bread and butter. Olomoucké tvarůžky are even protected by the European Union, as an EU protected geographical indication. This titbit has been eaten in the Olomouc Region since the mid-15th century.

One cannot forget homemade lard with pork cracklings and pork crackling spread. A favourite is steak tartare made from raw beef and served with garlic toast. Toast is also often on menus, e.g. with a spicy meat or vegetable mix or with an omelette. Warm titbits decidedly also include roast pork knee, roast ribs, and the typical pork white pudding sausage. However, these foods are definitely not for those on a diet or with a weak stomach.

A typical Czech titbit, to chase hunger away, is the open sandwich, which is served with various ingredients – ham, salami, vegetable, etc. Open sandwiches are usually served at all celebrations and parties.
What to drink
It does not matter which Czech specialty you try, do not forget to supplement this with typical local drinks. The Czech Republic is considered to be a beer superpower, so you should definitely not leave the country without having a swig of beer. Our country can also boast having high quality wines, especially white wines, so when enjoying Czech food, order a Czech wine. Traditional Czech Becherovka is a great digestif. This bittersweet herbal liqueur from the famous spa town of Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), thanks to its curative effects, earned the nickname the “Thirteenth Spring”.
Author: Romana Kuncová
Added: 01.03.2011

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