Czechoslovakia is a country found in the middle of Eastern Europe. Its neighbors are Poland to the Northeast and Germany is to its north and northwest, Austria on the other hand is to the South while Slovakia lies in the southeast. It is a beautiful country that has an interesting history and a rich culture through its long history of colonization. It is famously known as a country where people love beer and it is used as an accompaniment during meals. One thing though that stands out is its rich cuisine. At one point it suffered for about four decades under communist dictatorship and this greatly affected their cuisine as there were no fresh ingredients to use. Many people do not fancy eating in restaurants and would rather eat at home. This notwithstanding, there is a variety of meals to choose from more especially for the lovers of meaty dishes. There is no rule as to whether meat can be eaten in the morning or at dinner, any time is meat time and the cuisine, is generally reach and great.
The Czech cuisine has developed for well over hundreds of years. Much of it has had a lot of influence from surrounding countries that had dominated it for a very long time. It also has influenced the cuisines of its neighbors. Its staple dishes are sauerkraut and dumplings which were introduced by Germans and Austria on the other hand introduced schnitzels which contain breaded chicken or pork that is fried. Hungary on its part introduced goulash, a meat based dish that the people there love so much. This perhaps is a clear indicator of how much the country has borrowed cuisine from other countries and made these cuisines as its staple food. Most of the people in this nation find themselves using a lot of meats and starches, something that they share in common with many other European nations in the region.
Czech cuisine is known to be very heavy and very filling (Albala 2011). A lot of foods found in restaurants are a bit heavy because the winters are usually very long and extremely cold. Fresh vegetables do not, therefore, grow under such conditions and hence, the country finding itself over relying on meat and a lot of starch based on potatoes because of their availability during the long winter seasons. The meats found here are mainly pork, chicken, game, fish and beef. When taking these meat based meals, they are normally accompanied by sauces that are cream based and mushroom soup too. One thing that stands out about the dishes is that most of the time vegetables are not served and if they are served in form of salads, they are only tomatoes and cucumbers. This does not necessarily mean that meals are not balanced; there are alternative ways that they use to ensure that the meals are complete. The menus normally contain toot vegetables and cabbage a lot of the time.
Green vegetables are not always available and can be ordered or be prepared on order. When prepared on order, one will always find that they are limited to broccoli or spinach and, therefore, are considered to be used on very rare occasions. Much of the time, they will come as grated cabbage and carrot and very many people like it that way. Heavy potato dumplings are sometimes used as a vegetable and they are served in plenty because they are easily available. Houby (mushrooms) also form part of the cuisine and they are an exception. They flourish in the forests and are popular in making soups such as the Hunter’s mushroom soup which is a favorite to many people. Today, they have become more available as button mushrooms, also known as zampiony and oyster hliva ustricna are found in food stores (Vanorny- Barcus 2009).
Legumes also form part of the cuisine as peas are always available either green or dried. Much of the time they are frozen. Lentils too are always available and are often used during the long winter periods. They are always cooked into stews and served in place of the meats to supplement them. Beans are also used as part of the main dishes and are served in thick sauce. These legumes form part of the food that is not identified with the Czech people because of a lot of over emphasis on meats. When they are served as part of a meal, they often accompany starches, more so bread and potatoes (Thacker & Barton 2012). While at bread, it forms the key element of Czech food. There is a wide variety of baked goods which are served in restaurants to compliment meals and more so soups. Almost all supermarkets, whether large or small, are always full of freshly baked bread. Different regions are also known for certain specialties that they can be identified with and a good example is Olomouc which is known for its curd cheese and in Pardubice, gingerbread is a delicacy. In Prague, one cannot miss a good bite of ham while South Bohemia is famously known for dishes rich with fresh water fish.
When it comes to meals, many people start off with a cold breakfast. A breakfast meal is normally made up of a few slices of meat or salami, bread, cheese, juice and even yoghurt. In a few instances, they use instant coffee and tea is also popular. Cereals are not as common. Lunch is usually the main meal of the day. Meals are usually rich with meats, soup, sauces which are often poured over potatoes, dumplings as well as rice. Even at lunch hour, Czechs can sip on beer after a meal. Drinking beer is as common as washing down a meal with a glass of juice as it is usually seen in other parts of the world. Lunch meals happen to be high key affair because it is their main meal unlike dinners, which are often made up of cold dishes such as meat, cheese vegetables too. Sandwiches, also known as chlebičky are very common at dinner time. These sandwiches are often open faced and are topped with butter or cheese, ham and sliced boiled eggs. Their desserts are normally cream based cakes that are cut into small pieces, layered with fruits. Ice cream is also used as a desert as much as pancakes.
Albala, K. (2011). Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia. Volume 4. Santa Barbara: ABC- CLIO.
Thacker, A. & Barton, A. (2012). Multicultural Handbook of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics. New York: Blackwell Publishing
Vanorny- Barcus L. (2009). My Czech Heritage Cook Book. New York: Createspace Publishers