Keys to the City – Food to Try
There are few things in life better than a good meal. Warm soup on a cold day, tasty ice cream when the sun is hot. Understandably, therefore, every culture has a few things it is famous for, and the Czechs are no different. The most traditional Czech meals are meat and dumplings (knedliky), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other options. Some people have said that Czech food is pretty bland – which is probably true, especially if you’re used to spicy spices on your meat.
Here follows food suggestions – some are things everyone should try, and some are suggestions for only the most adventurous:
A staple of Czech street food, trdelnik is basically heaven wrapped around a metal rod, baked, and dipped in cinnamon sugar. As long as you don’t have a gluten allergy, they’re totally worth the 50 crowns. I personally like the traditional flavor – plain and simple cinnamon – the best, but there are some people who are partial to the nut coatings or the nutella. Tredlnik stands can be found pretty much anywhere tourists frequent – permanent stores exist on Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square, and on both sides of the Charles Bridge, among other places. The key to the best trdelnik, though, is that is must be fresh! Find a spot that is selling them as fast as they can make them – you’re sure to get a fresh one that is crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside and downright wonderful all the way through.
Svářak & Horká Čokoláda
In English, these are mulled wine and hot chocolate, but the Czechs somehow do these better than any American I’ve ever met. I discovered that a lot of American college student have never even had mulled wine. If that’s the case, then get your butt to any of these stalls ASAP (again, they’re easily found where the tourists frequent.) Even if you’ve had mulled wine, or you think your grandma has the best mulled wine recipe ever, check the Czech version out. It is pretty spectacular.
The Czech hot chocolate is literally unlike any hot chocolate I’ve ever had in my life. Where our hot chocolate is heated milk (sometimes water) with chocolate in it, Czech hot chocolate is literally. hot. chocolate. As in melted chocolaty goodness. The best cup of hot chocolate can be found at Café Louvre.
And, if you’re liking the hot Czech drinks, try a cup of medovina, or hot honey mead/honey wine (depends on who you’re asking). I think it is probably something not unlike the butterbeer of another universe.
The late-night classic: fried cheese. Definitely likely to clog up your arteries, but definitely worth it. I mean, if you don’t live life, is life worth living? Vegetarians be warned – you’ll probably be eating a lot of this, since vegetarian offerings at restaurants can often be pretty limited.
Not just good for vegetarians and vegans – but the food is actually good and you pay by the weight. There’s a Loving Hut just around the corner from the study center, so it makes for a great budget (and quick!) lunch.
It sounds weird, but this Czech classic is absolutely fantastic. If a restaurant is offering it, you can be pretty sure that they know how to do it right, and its worth ordering at least once. I’ve had it multiple times over the last few months, and it has yet to disappoint.
The Czech version of potato salad is nothing like American potato salad. They don’t slice their potatoes, or quarter them, or do whatever your family does when making potato salad. Nope. Czech potato salad requires diced potatoes mixed with diced apples, pickles, onions, carrots, and pretty much anything else you want. Add some mayonnaise to hold it all together and you’ve got possibly the best version of potato salad ever invented. But don’t ask me, I’m biased.
The key to enjoying Czech food is to keep trying it. The best suggestion I heard was “try a lot of things. Even if you don’t know what it is, try it. Don’t give up – keep trying.” I’ve found that some of the best meals I’ve had are pretty bizarre – wild boar goulaš or rabbit’s meat in rice, anyone? That said, if you’re a vegetarian, be really careful. I’ve had friends that ordered a salad that came with prosciutto on it even though the waiter said it was “only vegetables.”