czech eats + winter lately
south bohemia, a region of central europe that used to be part of germany but now remains in south-east czech republic has a very rich history and traditions. and of course, food is a large part of people keeping their traditions and culture alive.
after over a year in the czech republic, i’m not a huge fan of traditional czech meals like goulash, bread dumplings, and pork everything… in fact i’ve vowed to eat very little to no pork in 2014 ‘cause, well, i’m just bloody tired of it! and i’d rather eat other things. but there are many other south bohemian food items i have taken an interest in….
korbáčky is the czech answer to string cheese. you’ll find these little ropes of braided, salty, and sometimes smoked cheeses in every grocery store. at every outdoor market or festival in the area you’ll also find these small salty smoked lumps of cheese being barbecued and sold. i try to pick up a package every time i can remember to!
the first time i had zelňak, a student brought me a full tupperware of the homemade stuff from his wife. basically, it’s a sauerkraut pancake-bread square, that also includes caraway seeds (always the caraway seeds!). you can find them at most bakeries for about 10kc (50 cents) a square. i like them, but after one or two i’m a bit over the taste and i just give them all to alex.
around the holidays i was lamenting to some students that eggnog is not to be found in czech republic. to which they said, “YES IT IS!” i was really skeptical: i’ve already scoured the aisles near the dairy products, and nada, so i made my own. but i guess a form of it IS to be found, called vaječný likér, or egg liquor. you have to look in the liquor section (doh!) because it is already spiked with 15% alcohol. verdict: it definitely had a nice eggnogy taste and i did enjoy it, however it was missing all the spices that are never left out of traditional american eggnog.
i gave this recipe a shot: moroccan chicken one-pot (but it’s actually two pots with the cous-cous, but ehhh) and it was brilliant. i’ve never used cinnamon in a savory dish before but it was a huge win all around and added a certain something you usually only taste at a restaurant. alex loved it. and i will be making it again for sure.
AND WE JUST BOUGHT 1.5 LBS of peanut butter at LIDL today. it’s american week: that means all the hot dog buns, marshmallows, ranch dressing, and peanut butter you can handle.
earlier today, i walked out of the jewelry store with a beautiful gold-plated yggdrasil necklace, a belated christmas gift from alex. and my engagement ring is currently being re-sized to fit my tiny ring finger. i will refrain from telling the whole story about the “jewelry store debacle” that has occurred this month, but basically the takeaway lessons are : 1) always ask about the return policy and 2) go together to pick out an engagement ring. it might seem like a cute idea for the dude to surprise the lady with a ring he chose just for her, but the reality is, you’re going to want to pick out one yourself. YOU JUST WILL.
also, i have to give a GO SEAHAWKS shout-out, as my city’s team heads to the super bowl this week. i’m not that big of a sports fan in general but i know that it means a lot for my city. and regional pride is something i can get behind. a couple of students made fun of me when i said i would not stay up until 2am watching the game live… apparently i’m not that good of a fan. darn.
in other news, we’re slowly slogging our way through the yet unseen oscar nominated films: so far blue jasmine and dallas buyers’ club and have enjoyed them both. the former being a fantastic character piece (when is blanchett not great?) and the latter starting a bit slow (why do i care about the dallas rodeo?) but really picking up by the middle (oh, so that’s why i care). we’ve mutually decided that sally hawkins is the only cheerful brit we’ve ever heard about/met. oscar film season: one of the greatest cold weather activities.
winter has really descended upon czechland this week. standing in the deserted town square on sunday afternoon listening to the bells that play on the hour in the lightly falling snow felt romantic indeed. i wish it would just perpetually snow (lightly of course) until the beginning of march. that would be swell.
the malše has frozen! i’ve never seen a frozen-over river until today… i’m one of those “temperate gals”. (the iron maiden tower is the tall brown building to the right)
above: at the edge of the center, na sadech park, below: an icy walk to an evening lesson.