culinaria eugenius in prague: good gravy!

The real star of Czech cuisine, if you haven’t guessed already, is the meat.  Every carnivore dish has been absolutely delicious, and I haven’t even been eating at upscale places, so that’s really saying something.  And even though there are many specialties of roasted meat, such as the roast “pork knee” that is basically a giant hunk (the biggest I saw was 6 inches) of roast pork leg on the joint or the roast pheasant with red stewed sauerkraut below, the meat is best when served in copious amounts of gravy.

And by gravy, I mean Exhibit A, Czech goulash, here served with regular bread dumplings (knedlik) and ones with bacon.

The goulash surprised me, as I had been expecting a paprika-tinged goulash with caraway seed.  I had heard the latter was a popular addition in CZ.  But it’s really just a nice beef stew.  Or this roasted pork shoulder with plain bread dumplings and white sauerkraut.

Tired of gravy?  You could soak your meat in a bowl of garlic soup.  Imagine a French onion soup, but with ham in addition to the croutons and cheese.  Better to ward off vampires, too.

It’s not that Czechs don’t eat vegetables, but other than the ubiquitous cabbage, there aren’t many served in the meat-and-potatoes (I’m speaking figuratively, and I guess literally) places around town.  I did, for you doubters, document some vegetables sold in the market.  I didn’t see these beautiful cauliflower served anywhere. We have the conical cabbages in Eugene, but I don’t know how they are different from regular cabbage.  The importance of sauerkraut can’t be overstated — without it, I firmly believe the whole country would have scurvy.  One really needs to partake in cabbage, in all its forms, if one is to get any vegetably vitamins in Prague.

Or of course, one could just eat fruit.  Let them eat garnishes, cried Marienska Antonova.  Or the slivovitz-macerated dried plums hidden in these bacon rolls.  YUM.

And then you’d be heathly enough to partake in this platter of delights, the Bohemian Wedding Feast at U Medviku, a brewery restaurant established in the 15th century.  I see this as the salad bar of Czech cuisine.  Duck, roast port, ham, and sausages are surrounded by red and white sauerkraut and several kinds of dumplings.

Yes, believe it or not, we did it.  She made such a lovely, delicious bride.  Speaking of couples, I was happy to have trekked out to the Frank Gehry building that caused a stir a decade or so ago.  Like so many things in Prague, the “Dancing” or “Fred and Ginger” building is a study in complements.  Like gravy and dumplings, meat and sauerkraut…

Tanks and bulldozers in the Mobius strip of the 20th century…

A fuzzy plush bear with a machine gun, a museum of communism…

Prague is all about juxtaposition.

I’m stuck at JFK for a few more hours.  Missed the connection to Seattle, so I’m flying home today.  Can’t even tell you how tired I am.  I think it’s time to detox with some good Oregon berries!

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