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Prague, and Czech Republic in general, may not be considered to be the culinary hotspot like places such as Italy or France, it has plenty of distinct and unique flavours to offer. You can treat it like a real discovery – precisely because those are not flavours that we’re all carpet-bombed with, be it a curry, yet another thing topped with mozzarella or the thousandth variation on the ever-fashionable sushi. This is something new – and something you may discover for yourself, which may well be the main point of travel.
So, what to eat in Prague? What food in Prague should you focus on to really get that Bohemian kick? We’ll focus on a couple dishes that we really enjoy here, but remember – it’s a pretty old cuisine, and as such, there are variations and dishes that are tucked away so well, there may be some only locals know to this day. Before we start, let’s have a small dossier on the Czech Cuisine.
Czech cuisine has been greatly influenced by the Polish, Bavarian, Austrian, Hungarian and Slovakian cuisines. If you come from one of those countries you’re bound to expect similiarities, but much like in the Twillight Zone, you’ll find what you expected familiar to have a very different twist. For instance, a sauerkraut soup is very much present in both Polish and German cuisines, but the Czech version incorporates mushrooms, and the meats change, as well as the texture of the soup. Now if you don’t travel from central Europe, you’re in for quite the treat – those types of dishes don’t really exist anywhere else in the world, with the very notable exception of Korean Kimchi being very close to the sauer-treat stuff. It’s incredibly healthy too!
What soups to eat in Prague? The Kulajda is a mushroom soup, but it’s not much like the mushroom soups you might see in other cuisines. It’s a very rich and creamy soup that incorporates potatoes in addition to the mushroom, making for a chowder-like texture and creaminess. The main spice added is dill – which is one of the more typical spices of Prague and Czech Republic in general. Zelňačka is the aforementioned sauerkraut soup, packed with very regional flavour. In addition to the signature sauerkraut, this soup is composed of sour cream, potatoes, smoked sausage and mushrooms. The last soup in the what-to-eat-in-Prague soup trifecta will be the Cesnacka, named for its main ingredient – garlic! It’s a light beef broth topped with chunky sourdough croutons and flavoured with plenty of garlic. Of course, all of those choices go best with beer (although wine is surprisingly popular in Prague!), which holds true for pretty much all the dishes featured in this blogpost.
Svickova is a delightful and shockingly light beef dish that’s one of the more famous ones in the Czech cuisine – and its serving style in particular. The Svickova is beef tenderloin slices in a sauce made out of parsnips and carrots. It’s served with cranberries (this is pretty traditional), whipped cream (this is only traditional for this particular dish) and a Knedlik – which is the highly, highly traditional part. It’s basically a very tasty dumpling engineered for soaking up the sauce, be it from svickova or from goulash, prepared in the form of a loaf, out of which slices are cut – both very much alike bread. The svickova surprises with its sweetish taste and wins our hearts and stomachs with the very efficient, engaging and novel way of sauce logistics.
The Goulas is pretty much svickova’s evil twin – and a wonderful thing to go for if you’re wondering what to eat in Prague. It’s also beef in a rich sauce served with dumplings, but this time, it’s a decidedly spicy flavour with a kick. The sauce is much darker and must contain slices of raw onion, as well as pungent caraway seeds, as well as marjoram. Much like its Hungarian variant, it carries considerable amounts of Paprika, though not as much as the Hungarian variant. It also doesn’t include spicy peppers, and is a more thick dish than its brother. The Goulas also appears in the Polish cuisine, though we have to say the Czech and Hunarian variants are both more interesting and flavourful spins on the concept. Even if you’re from one of those countries, you may want to book some Prague accommodation and have a taste!
Vepřo knedlo zelo is yet another dish that incorporates the Knedlik, and it’s one of the parts of its quite cheeky name. To tell you what the dish is and why you really want to try it, we just have to decipher its name – it’s Vepro for a delicious pork roast, Knedlo for the knedlik, and Zelo for the cooked cabbage. It’s a true trademark of Czech cuisinie. We’ll finish the list with something a tad more fancy – duck with red cabbage and, of course, dumplings. Duck is also quite a traditional dish of Prague, and flaky and melty, sweet but spicy and acidic red cabbage goes quite well with it – after all, it’s a combination perfected for quite some time now. There is also one dish shared in its exact form with other central european countries – if you don’t come from one of those, it’ certainly worth trying. It’s the Rizek, also known as Schnitzel in German cuisine. The concept itself is very simple – it’s a thin veal or pork cutlet, breaded, fried and served with a lemon drizzle and potatoes. Like it often happens on plates, a simple concept yields quite the results. It’s key that the cutlet is as this as possible and the breading perfectly crisp, but when this happens, this is quite the dish. Actually it’s also similiar to the Japanese dish of Katsu – talk about unlikely similiarities! Let’s move on to the next bits of food in Prague.