Czech cuisine has both influenced and been influenced by the cuisine of surrounding countries. Many of the cakes and pastries that are popular in Central Europe originated within Czech lands. Contemporary Czech cuisine is more meat based than in previous periods; the current abundance of farmable meat has enriched its presence in regional cuisine. Traditionally, meat had been reserved for once-weekly consumption, typically on the weekend. The body of Czech meals typically consists of two or more courses: the first course is traditionally soup, the second course is the main dish, and supplementary courses such as dessert or compote (kompot) may follow.
Dumplings (knedlíky) (steamed and sliced bread-like dumplings) are one of the mainstays of Czech cuisine and are typically served with meals. They can be either wheat or potato based, and are sometimes made from a combination of wheat flour and stale bread or rolls (puffed rice can be found in store-prepared mixtures). In contrast to Austrian cuisine, Czech dumplings are made into larger rolls and sliced into smaller servings prior to consumption. Smaller Czech dumplings are usually potato-based. When served as leftovers, sliced dumplings are sometimes pan-fried or prepared with fried egg or boiled with sugar, melted butter and cocoa.
Czech potato dumplings are often filled with smoked meat, spinach or sour cabbage. Fried onion and braised cabbage can be included as a side dish.
There are many other side dishes including Noodles (nudle).
Rice (rýže), served simply boiled or made as Risotto (rizoto), or sometimes as rice pudding (rýžový nákyp).
Potatoes (brambory) are easy and fast to grow in the Czech climate. They are served boiled with salt and butter or oil. Baked or boiled and mixed into (mashed potatoes) called bramborová kaše. New potatoes are sometimes boiled in their skins, not peeled, from harvest time to new year. Due to the influence of foreign countries, potatoes are also fried, so French fries and croquettes are common in restaurants.
Buckwheat (pohanka) and millet grains (jáhly) are not very often served in restaurants. These are more commonly a home-cooked, healthier alternative.
Pasta (těstoviny) is common, either baked, cooked with other ingredients or served as a salad. Pasta is available in different shapes and flavours. This is an influence of Italian and Asian cuisine. Rice and buckwheat noodles are not common but are becoming more popular. Gluten-free pasta is also available, made from corn flour/starch and/or potatoes/potato starch and rice flour.
Bread (chléb or chleba) is traditionally sourdough baked from rye and wheat, flavoured with salt, cumin, onion, garlic, seeds, or cracklings. It is eaten as an accompaniment to many soups and dishes. It is also the material for Czech croutons and for topinky which are slices of bread rubbed with garlic and fried in a pan on both sides.
Rolls (rohlík), buns (called žemle), and braided buns (houska) are the most common forms of bread eaten for breakfast and they are often topped with poppy and salt or seeds. A bun or a roll baked from bread dough is called a dalamánek.
A loupák (sweet roll) is a crescent-shaped roll nade from sweeter dough containing milk. It is smeared with egg and sprinkled with poppyseed before baking, giving it a golden-brown colour.
Soup (polévka colloquially polívka) plays an important role in Czech cuisine.
Common soups you can find in Czech restaurants are beef, chicken or vegetable broth with noodles (optionally with liver or nutmeg dumplings)
garlic soup (česnečka) with croutons (optionally with minced sausage, raw egg, cheese) and
cabbage soup (zelňačka) Made from lacto-fermented cabbage sometimes with minced sausage. Wallachian variety is known as kyselica and contains sour cream, bacon, potatoes, eggs and sausage resulting in very rich, filling meal.
Other soups, even more cooked at home, are pea (hrachovka),
bean or lentil soup (fazolová or čočková polévka),
goulash soup (gulášovka),
dršťková, made from beef or pork tripes (dršťky), cut into small pieces and cooked as a soup with other ingredients; meat can be substituted with oyster mushrooms,
potato soup (bramboračka),
fish soup (rybí polévka) (carp broth is often served on Christmas),
champignon or other mushroom soup (houbová polévka),
tomato soup (rajská polévka),
vegetable soup (zeleninová polévka),
onion soup (cibulačka),
bread soup (chlebová polévka),
kulajda - is a traditional South Bohemian soup containing water, cream, spices, mushrooms, egg, dill and potatoes. It is typical in its thickness, white color characteristic taste. The main ingredient is mushrooms which gives it its scent.
(kyselo) regional specialty from sourdough, mushrooms, caraway and fried onion. Additionally assortment of mixed vegetable soups, adding milk or cream.
Traditional Czech dishes are made from animals, birds or fish bred in the surrounding areas.
Pork is quite common; beef, calf and chicken are also popular. Pigs are often source of meals in the countryside, since Pork has a relatively short production time - when compared to beef.
Jitrnice is meat cut into tiny pieces filled with sausage and placed on sticks. Meat from neck, sides, insides (lungs and spleen), liver, white pastry, broth and spices: salt, black pepper, jelly, grounded all-spice and ginger, garlic and sometimes onions. Klobása is a smoked meat sausage-like product from minced meat. It is spicy and durable. Known as Kielbasa in the United States. Jelito is pork meat sausage-like product containing pork blood and hulled grain (barley) or pastry pieces. Tlačenka is meat product (it can be also chicken). This are little pieces of meat in jelly/aspic from connective tissue boiled to mush. Served with onion and bread. Ovar is simple meal from more fatty pork meat. These pieces of lower quality meat are boiled in salted water. Škvarky the rest of tissue, which will stay after separating fat by frying small cubes of pork fai in its fat. Bacon (Slanina) is also eaten.
In restaurants you can find:
Guláš is a stew usually made from beef, onions and spices, however it also can be made from pork and sometimes game, e.g. venison. There are several vegetarian varieties with cabbage or potatoes. It is usually accompanied with knedle or sometimes bread. It is also traditionally served at home, as a pot of guláš will last for several days. It is well known that gulaš which is a few days old is better as it has time to marinate and absorb all the flavours. Czech guláš is not to be confused with Hungarian "gulyás" which is a soup more similar to Czech gulášovka (a soup). Pörkölt is the Hungarian equivalent of Czech guláš.
Roast pork with dumplings and cabbage (pečené vepřové s knedlíky a se zelím, colloquially vepřo-knedlo-zelo) is often considered the most typical Czech dish. Cabbage, either green or red is either cooked or served pickled. There are different varieties, from sour to sweet.
Marinated sirloin (svíčková na smetaně or simply svíčková; svíčková is called both the sauce and the meat (pork side or beef side) used for this dish; na smetaně mean in cream, and it means that the svíčková sauce is with cream). Braised beef, usually larded, with a svíčková sauce, thick sauce of carrot, parsley root, celeriac, and sometimes with cream (It is traditional without cream, as common people could not afford cream in the past). This dish is often served with knedlíky, chantilly cream - sweet whipped cream, a teaspoon of cranberry compote (kompot), and a slice of lemon.
Sekaná pečeně (baked mincemeat), later only sekaná (mincemeat) is a dish made from minced pork meat (also beef is possible). Šunka (ham) is made from pork or beef, braised, dried or smoked.
Řízek (plural řízky) in typical Czech meat meal. The word means "sliced/cutt (out) piece". These are 1x10x15cm slices of calf, pork or chicken meat covered with Czech traditional trojobal (Triplecoat), made from putting and pressing a bit punded and slice into smooth flour (on both sides), than taking with fork into whisked egg (and turned to cover from another side) and than put into another bowl with breadcrumbs (they are from Czech rolls and braided buns mentioned below), pressed, turned and pressed. Than it is fried on both sides. (It can be frozen before or after frying, meat is not salted before triplecoat, as it tends to make it fall off.) For Christmas the Czech triplecoat is used to cover carp meat pieces or trouts decorated with lemon slice. Řízek is served with potato side-dishes mainly, Dumplings are also possible.
Karbanátek (plural karbanátky) - burger; in meat version, it is usually made from pork/beef but can be made from minced fish or other meat, often mixed with egg and it is more often crumbed with Czech triplecoat, a method of crumbing. It can be vegetable based with pastry pieces or flour (it can be triplecoated) and in both versions fried from both sides or baked. When carp meat is used, it has to be ground twice in order to make sure that bones are not present.
Smoked meat (uzené means smoked) with potato dumplings, fried onion and cooked spinach.
Beef with Tomato sauce is the meat with rajská omáčka (Tomato sauce) or rajská for short, and dumplings. Dill sauce, shortly koprovka is often on menus too.
Among next meat dishes containing bird meat you can find:
- Goose (husa), duck (kachna), turkey (krůta) and hen (slepice) were often bred thus eaten.
- Pheasant (bažant), partridge (koroptev), guinea (perlička), pigeon (holub) or other birds are not that often.
Roasted duck (pečená kachna) with bread or potato dumplings and braised red cabbage.
Chicken in Paprika sauce (kuře na paprice) is Chicken stewed with onion, paprika and other ingredients. Cream is added to the sauce.
Roast Turkey Cock with Bacon (krocan pečený na slanině) - Turkey lardedwith, or wrapped in Bacon, roasted with bacon and butter.
Křupánky (crackers) is now little-known countryside meal. It is pan-fried chicken or other skin. Served with bread and salad (often added at the end so that it gets warm and slightly glassy, yet stayed green). It was also called mišmaš, influenced by Bulgarian meal mish mash. Another version of mišmaš was fried jelito content with roll added while fried and again salad added on the end.
Fishes were mostly from rivers or ponds like trout (pstruh) and carp (kapr), which is served a lot at Christmas. Otherwise there is a lot of imported fishes too like sardines, fillet, salmon, tuna, anchovy, etc. Other types of fish are getting popular slowly too.
Crayfish (rak) has been very common in rivers but not any more. Nowadays it is protected. Prawn or lobsters are imported instead.
Mushrooms are often used in Czech cuisine as they grow in different types in the forests, and many people like to go around and pick them in the fall even though it requires good knowledge to distinguish edible and poisonous species. Bolete, parasol and other kinds of mushroom are often found. In the shops you can buy žampiony (champignons), hlívy (oyster mushrooms), shiitake, Jew's ear and dried forest mushrooms.
Smaženice are shallow-fried mushrooms. Minced or diced onion is fried in oil or butter, chopped mushrooms are added, and flavoured with grounded cumin, salt and additionally pepper (to taste). Houbový Kuba Mushroom Jacob is meal prepared from cooked hulled grain (barley), than strained, mixed with cooked mushrooms, fried onion, grounded garlic. fat and bit of black pepper, and finally baked in the oven. It is served at Christmas.
Mushrooms are often triple-coated and fried. There is cauliflower fried In the Czech triplecoat too. Next are rings of onion covered in batter and fried.
One of the traditional dishes is noodles with (ground) poppy seeds called nudle s mákem with powdered sugar and melted butter. They are usually homemade.
Another similar dish is potato buns with poppy seeds (Bramborové šišky s mákem), called šišky (cones) as they resemble cones of a coniferous tree.
Omelettes (omeleta) are often served with peas.
Pancakes (palačinky") of plate size or palm size are common.
The most traditional vegetables are carrot, celery and parsley, turnip, cauliflower, salad, onion, leek, garlic, cabbage, kale, chives etc. In gardens, one can find also tomatoes, bell peppers, courgette, pumpkin, melons etc., sunflower, poppy, potatoes, beet etc. (lately also corn and many others)
Peas (hrách) and lentils (čočka) are for Czech people legumes (luštěniny) and together with bean pods are the most common. They can be found in the form of soup (often with croutons) or as cooked mash. They are served with pickled cucumber, and fried onion, occasionally with sausage or smoked meat. Often with egg fried sunny-side up called volské oko (bulls eye). Volské oko is often served with bread or potatoes and spinach.
Šoulet (shoulet) is boiled peas mixed with barley, fat and other ingredients.
Žemlovka is a baked dish from layers of sliced rolls or buns called žemle and sliced apples. It can be done with milk and/or eggs. It is served with cinnamon and often with raisins.
Štrůdl or závin (strudel) can be sweet, with apples and raisins or walnuts or grated coconut, often with a cherry filling, or savoury, with cabbage, spinach or meat.
Semolina porridge (krupicová kaše) with sugar or honey, cinnamon or cocoa and slice of butter on the top is made for kids. optionally, sliced fruits like apples or appricots can be added as toppings. Sometimes healthier version substitutes semolina for oatmeal or rice.
Stuffed bell peppers (plněné papriky) are stuffed with meat or rice with vegetables.
Lečo is Lecsó a stew made from peppers, onions, tomatoes and spices
Špagety (spaghetti) coming in as Italian influence.
Eggs are often used in Czech cuisine as many families were (not in cities) breeding hen. míchaná vajíčka are scrambled eggs are common. Fried egg called volské oko (bulls eye) and soft-boiled eggs and hard-boiled eggs too. Stuffed eggs are made from hard-boiled eggs, shell is peeled, egg is cut in half. Yolk is carefully taken out into separate bowl, mixed with salt mustard and spices and stuffed back. It can be decorated.
Dairy products (mléčné výrobky) has its place in Czech kitchen too as cattle was often bred in barns.
Eidam (Edam, Edameer) - is holland based type of most common and popular cheese.
Sour Cream - very often used as part of various cream based sauces.
Beer is a part of life for many Czech people, so several popular Czech dishes and cheeses are eaten as pub fare.
Bramboráky (regionally called cmunda or vošouch in Pilsen and "strik" or "striky" in Czech Silesia) are fried pancakes made (very similar to rösti) of rough-grated or fine-grated raw potatoes (brambory in Czech), flour and rarely with sliced sausages (although this is not common, because bramboráky are usually intended to be traditional meal, where meat was not eaten daily), carrot or sour cabbage. They are spiced with marjoram, salt, pepper, and garlic, and usually sized to fit the cooking dish. Smaller variants are often eaten as a side dish. There is a similar dish from the Slovakian-Ruthenian borderland called harula, which is prepared also with less milk and fat, and the addition of an onion. Harula are baked on tin in an oven instead of frying.
Utopenci (literally "drowned men", singular: utopenec) are piquantly pickled bratwursts (Czech "špekáčky") in sweet-sour vinegar marinade with black pepper, bayleaf, lots of raw onion and chilli peppers. They are one of dishes available in Czech Pubs (it saves time of preparation). They are not much in better restaurants.
Dried apple chips (Křížaly) and imported dried banana chips.
The Czech republic has also many companies making potato chips. One of them, the Bohemia Chips company was started in 1982 and daily makes 450 000 packs of potato chips with many flavours. The company Chips Praha makes beet and celery chips sold as Tretter's chips.
Roasted peanuts are common.
Obložené chlebíčky (Garnished breads), a type of snack or appetizer similar to Spanish tapas, is not made from normal Czech "bread" but from roll-like, bigger pastry called veka, sliced and garnished. It can have butter, ham, or cheese, a sliced boiled egg, or salads (like potato salad) or spreads on the top. It is usually decorated with fresh sliced or pickled cucumber, tomato, red or yellow bell pepper, sliced radish, or parsley. Chlebíčky was invented by Jan Paukert Sr., owner of Jan Paukert Delicatessen company, around 1916. Jednohubky - are similar to obložené chlebíčky, but smaller and in many varieties. All are served in a small amount - one mouthful, impaled on a stick.
Smažený sýr (colloquially smažák, fried cheese in Czech triplecoat) is one of Czech dishes. A slice of cheese (usually Edam or Hermelín) about 1 cm thick (or, a whole serving of Hermelín) is coated in layer of flour, layer of egg and layer of bread-crumbs like Wiener schnitzel and fried and served. It can be served with tartar sauce (tatarská omáčka in Czech) or ketchup and potatoes.
Pivní sýr (beer cheese) is a soft cheese, usually mixed with raw onions and mustard, and spread on toasted bread. It is also a pub-food.
Olomoucké syrečky or "tvarůžky" is an aged cheese with a strong odour. It's made and sold from Loštice, a small town in Moravia. The tradition of making this cheese dates back to the 15th century. The company A.W. of Josef Wesselss started to produce it in 1876. Tvarůžky can be prepared in a number of ways—for example, it be can fried, marinated, or added to Bramboráky. However, not many people can stand its odor.
Czech hot dog (párek v rohlíku) is found on the streets. It is served with a boiled or steamed sausage dipped in mustard or ketchup and inside and put into a roll with a hole made inside, not in a sliced bun like the common hot dog. It is influenced by German cuisine.
Fruit dumplings (ovocné knedlíky) are mostly made using plums (švestkové knedlíky) or apricots (meruňkové knedlíky) or strawberrys (jahodové knedlíky). Whole or pieces of fruit, in some regions rarely including the stones, are coated with potato or curd dough and steamed, then served with butter, sugar and sometimes milled poppy seed or tvaroh (rarely also with cream instead of melted butter). Different varieties of fruit dumplings include strawberry, cherry, apricot, bilberry, or peach. They are usually eaten as a main dish.
Kolache (koláče) is a type of mainly round yeast pastry consisting of fillings ranging from fruits to curd or poppy seed on doughnut. It can be small, middle or pencake sized (in Moravia mostly). Fillings are mainly fruit or seed based or nutty. Filling can be seen. Buchty yeast pastry similar to koláče, the same filling is wrapped in piece of dough and baked. Filling is not visible. Sweet dumplings with custard sauce (buchtičky se šodo) are traditional Czech little buchty without filling. The recipe comes from Czech roots, however, the bordering countries, mainly Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary consider Buchtičky se šodo as food that came from their country. Puding is a custard of different flavours. Vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, banana, almonds, ananas, cocoa, raspberry or another flavour. These are also combined in layers. Puding is served in a glass topped with fruit or out of form upsidedown on a plate. For this purpose the form had to be washed with cold watter and not dried right before pouring puding from cooking pot. It was in form only to cool down and thus to get shape.
Vánočka (braided) and mazanec (bun) are prepared for Christmas, along with many kinds of biscuits and Christmas sweets (vánoční cukroví). Vánočka and mazanec are the same type of pastry as Jewish Challah.
Easter Lamb (Velikonoční beránek) is prepared for Easter. The dough is from eggs, sugar and flour. Lemons can be added. It is baked in a form, which is shaping it into resting lamb. It can be decorated. Bábovka - It is from similar dough as the Easter Lamb. Often with cocoa dough in the middle. It is round, 10–15 cm high, made in form.
Palačinky pancakes are rolled with marmalade (jam) and served often with Icecream.
Perník is made in two ways:
- like gingerbread - even though It is without ginger It has big tradition. It is beautifilly decorated, It has many different shapes. Actually there is a lot of popular themes like heart shape and 3D cottages and even whole beautifully decorated villages are made especially in Czech Pardubice Region.
- like a cake with cinnamon and honey.
Roláda - sponge sake cake roulade filled with jam.
Bublanina - sponge cake made in baking sheet with fruit (2–3 cm) tall. Litá (poured) bublanina - pencake like material (a bit more flour) is poured onto baking sheet. Fruit (1x2 cm pieces) is spread on it and sprinkled with sugar. Apple, pear or cherries etc. are used.
Makovec is sponge cake with grounded poppy. Mrkvanec is sponge cake with grated carrot.
With the exception of koláče, vánoční cukrovíand velikonoční beránek sweets sweets are consumed with tea or coffee in the late afternoon break, rather than immediately after a main meal. Koláče are commonly, but not always, eaten at breakfast.
A treat popular with children is the Míša, which has been produced since 1961 and is made out of frozen curd.
Aside from slivovitz, Czech beer and wine, Czechs also produce two uniquely Czech liquors, Fernet Stock and Becherovka. Kofola is a non-alcoholic Czech soft drink somewhat similar in look and taste to Coca-Cola but not as sweet. A mixed drink consisting of Becherovka and tonic water is called Beton (concrete in English). Beton is an abbreviation of BEcherovka and TONic. Another popular mixed drink is Fernet Stock mixed with tonic, called "Bavorák" or "Bavorské pivo" (literally: the bavarian beer).
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