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Czech Cuisine: Staff Picks

18 February, 2020

Last week, UPCES students and staff had a fantastic lunch together, with a menu jam-packed with traditional Czech foods. Many of our favorites were on the menu and it was so much fun to watch students discover their own favorites. As the weather continues to be cold and rainy, it can be so comforting to pop into a Czech restaurant for a steaming bowl of gulaš and dumplings. Since our staff have all been in Prague for a while, we all have our favorites. Some of them, you tried last week-- others, you'll have to venture out and discover yourself! 

Czech Food Blog

Anna

Buchtičky se šodó are small sweet dumplings made from a dough of warm milk, yeast, sugar, butter, egg yolks, and flour, from which little balls or squares are cut out and baked. The main draw, however, is what goes on top: šodó, a sweet custard sauce that makes many a Czech sigh nostalgically for their kindergarten or school years. It’s such a common staple in school cafeterias, but it’s rarely found on restaurant menus. Luckily for me, a few places in Prague do offer this classic to the masses.

Pavlína

One of my favorite Czech dishes are “svestkove knedliky”, plum dumplings with poppy seeds, butter and “tvrdy tvaroh” (sort of cheese). Our first president T. G. Masaryk loved them as well. Curd dough is wrapped around fresh plums, formed into balls and then boiled until plums are tender. The dumplings are topped with melted butter and sprinkled with poppy seeds and tvrdy tvaroh. You can eat them as main dish or dessert. It is possible to use different filling and you can prepare dumplings with apricots, strawberries or apples. Dobrou chut'!

Světlana

I love Czech cuisine, so it is hard to pick just one, but Kulajda, a soup from south Bohemia is among my favorites. Main ingredients of this rich, mildly sour soup are mushrooms, dill, potatoes, cream and poached egg. I prefer it with the yolk still runny when cracked. Every family has a different recipe, so it can be watery or very thick, sweet or savory. It tastes the best after a day in forest with wild mushrooms you picked yourself! Because of dill and mushrooms, people either love or hate it -- you will hardly find any Czech person with neutral opinion about it.  Fortunately, there is no need to worry about absence of ingredients once mushroom season is over. Czechs are very eager mushroom pickers, so most of the families also dry them for later. For me, kulajda is perfect comfort food and the great thing is I can cook it for my vegetarian friends as well.

Veronika

It's hard to say what my favorite dish out of the whole Czech menu is. I am not a fan of mushrooms or fried food. Both of these are very common for Czechs and people tend to cook one or another almost every time. So if I had to pick one meal it would be vepřové výpečky se špenátem a bramborovým knedlíkem. It's basically roasted pork with spinach and potato dumplings. I love spinach in all forms! I prefer potato dumplings rather than bread dumplings as they are lighter and tastier. I like simplicity and minimalism both at home and on my plate, so if I could make a meal that has only 3 to 4 things on the plate that would be the way to go. Our cuisine is very heavy and takes quite some time to prepare, which keeps me from making it often. I remember my mom or my grandma spending hours in the kitchen on Sunday morning just to get everything ready for our family lunch. Every time I travel back to my hometown both my mom and my grandma ask me what would I like for lunch over the weekend. I always pick one of the traditional Czech dishes as it is a way for me to spend some time with each of them and helping them while catching up. When I cook for myself I prefer improvisation with Asian, Indian or Mexican cuisine. Just keeping it simple.

Brooke

I'm not a big meat eater, but I sometimes make an exception when eating Czech foods. If I'm dining out with friends, I almost always order the roast duck with red cabbage and dumplings. It's warm, filling and something that I definitely wouldn't take the time to make on my own-- I leave it to the professionals! The duck should be roasted to perfection and the cabbage adds the perfect tang to the otherwise very salty dish. Pro tip: go to a restaurant that offers both bread and potato dumplings with the dish so you can get the best of both worlds-- I can never decide which one I like better! 

What are your favorite Czech dishes? We'd love to hear what you've discovered. Send us pictures of you and your favorite dumplings, stews, pastries and more!