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Slovak cuisine varies slightly from region to region across Slovakia. It was influenced by the traditional cuisine of its neighbours and it influenced them as well. The origins of traditional Slovak cuisine can be traced to times when the majority of the population lived self-sufficiently in villages, with very limited food imports and exports and with no modern means of food preservation or processing.
This gave rise to a cuisine heavily dependent on a number of staple foods that could stand the hot summers and cold winters. These included wheat, potatoes, milk and milk products, pork meat, sauerkraut and onion. To a lesser degree beef, poultry, lamb and goat, eggs, a few other local vegetables, fruit and wild mushrooms were traditionally eaten.
All these were usually produced and processed by families themselves with some local trade at the country markets. Wheat was ground, and bread, dumplings and noodles were made from it. Potatoes were mostly boiled or processed into potato dough. Milk was processed into a wide range of products such as butter, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, and various types of cheese etc.
Typical pork products include sausages, smoked bacon, and lard. Spices were not widely used, and animal fats and butter were used instead of cooking oils. Main beverages included fresh and sour milk, and beer. Contemporary Slovak cuisine is widely influenced by various world cuisines and uses many different ingredients, spices and industrially processed foods.
- Goose or duck feast (husacie or kačacie hody): festive menu consisting of roasted goose (husacina or husacie mäso) or duck meat (kačacie mäso), goose liver (husacia pečienka), greasy lokše, stewed red cabbage, and sour cherry and poppy seed strudel, traditional food of Slovenský Grob.
- Lokše: pancakes made of potato dough baked directly on the stove
- Bryndzové pirohy
- Široké rezance s tvarohom a slaninou: tagliatelle with quark (farmer's cheese) and fried bacon
- Zemiakové placky: potato pancakes fried in oil, also called haruľa in the Horehronie, Pohronie, Kysuce regions or baba, babka in the Orava region
- Granatiersky pochod or granadír, also known as granadírmarš and grenadírmarš
- Kuracie prsia s broskyňou: chicken breast slices with ham and peach baked with cheese on the top
- Džatky, small balls made of mashed potatoes and flour, often served with bacon, typical Spiš dish
- Segedin goulash: a dish consisting of pork stew with sauerkraut and cream or sour cream, usually served with steamed dumpling slices (knedľa)
- Rezeň: schnitzel, usually breaded
- Vyprážaný syr
Roasted duck leg with greasy lokše and stewed red cabbage
Pork with Milanese sauce and yeast dumplings
Wiener Schnitzel and potato salad
"Natural-style" (unbreaded) chicken schnitzel
Soups and sauces
- Fazuľová polievka (soup made of beans, usually with pork meat and/or sausages)
- Kapustnica (soup made of sauerkraut), often also mushrooms, meat and sausage, and sometimes served in a bread bowl
- Rezancová polievka (chicken soup with noodles)
- Demikát (bryndza-based soup)
- Tripe soup
- Gulášová polievka, traditional goulash soup
- Kotlíkový guláš, simple goulash soup made of different vegetables, potato and meat (usually beef) cooked together for hours
- Venison goulash, traditionally from deer, often served in a bread cup
- Garlic soup
Pork, beef and poultry are the main meats consumed in Slovakia, with pork being the most popular by a substantial margin. Among poultry, chicken is most common, although duck, goose, and turkey are also well established. Game meats, especially boar, rabbit, and venison, are also widely available throughout the year. Lamb and goat are also available, but for the most part are not very popular. The consumption of horse meat is generally frowned upon.
Grilled meat is not common in Slovakia. Instead, meat is either breaded and fried in oil (schnitzel), or cooked and served in sauce. Hungarian influences in Slovak cuisine can be seen in popular stews and goulashes. However, these have been given Slovak touches. Chicken paprikash is typically served with halušky and Hungarian goulash (spicy beef stew) is served with slices of a large bread-like steamed dumpling.
Local sausage types include krvavničky, a blood sausage, and jaternice (traditionally called hurky), a sausage with rice containing any and all parts of a butchered pig.
Usually baked at Christmas time, but also all year long, Slovak traditional sweets are usually home baked and harder to find in stores.
- Buchty (Buchteln)
- Parené buchty (steamed dumplings with various fillings (jam, plum, curd, poppy) topped with poppy seeds, sugar, butter, sour cream, breadcrumbs or nuts, similar to Austrian Germknödel, and Chinese Baozi buns)
- Laskonky (coconut meringue cookies with walnuts and creamy filling)
- Žemľovka (bread pudding)
- Mačacie oči (two layers of cookie-like round tarts "glued" with marmalade and poured with powdered sugar)
- Ryžový nákyp (rice pudding cake)
- Orechovník (sweet walnut roll)
- Makovník (poppy seed roll)
- Bratislavské rožteky (rolls of leavened dough filled with ground poppy seed or walnut, filling determines the shape)
- Trotle (two layers of cookie-like round tarts filled with chocolate cream and half-dipped in dark chocolate)
- Perníky (colloquially medovníky; honey based cookies, similar to gingerbread)
- Zázvorníky/ďumbierniky (ginger flavoured biscuits)
- Medvedie labky ("bear paws" – walnut/cocoa based cookies)
- Trdelník or Skalický trdelník, a traditional cake baked on a rotating spit over open fire
- Šuhajdy (festive no-bake dessert, with chocolate on top and bottom and a middle layer of rum-flavored nuts)
- Šúľance (rolled potato dumplings with sugar or poppy seeds)
- Zlaté halušky ("golden halušky" – tvaroh-semolina dumplings topped with sweet breadcrumbs)
Main daily meal
Traditionally the main meal of the day is lunch, eaten around noon. However, changing work routine has altered this in the recent decades; today, many Slovaks have their main meal in the evening. Lunch in Slovakia usually consists of soup and a main course. It is customary in Slovakia to bring a bottle of wine or other alcohol as a gift if one is invited to visit someone's home.
Books on Slovak cuisine
- Ján Babilon: Prvá kuchárska kniha, 1870
- Vojtech Španko a kolektív: Slovenská kuchárka, vydavat. Osveta, Martin, 1977, 4.vydanie 1982
- František Kotrba: Slovenská kuchařka, Dona, ISBN 80-7322-025-3
- Anna Demrovská: Dobrá slovenská kuchyňa, Knižné centrum, 2007, ISBN 80-85684-59-4
- Ľudmila Dullová: Veľká slovenská kuchárka, Ikar, 2007, ISBN 80-7118-783-6
- Jana Horecká: Najlepšia slovenská kuchyňa, 2007, ISBN 80-8064-300-8
- Daša Racková: Nová slovenská kuchárka, Ikar, 2007, ISBN 978-80-551-1563-4
- Zora Mintalová - Zubercová: Všetko okolo stola I., Vydavateľstvo Matice slovenskej, 2009, ISBN 978-80-89208-94-4
- Zora Mintalová - Zubercová: Všetko okolo stola II., Vydavateľstvo Matice slovenskej, 2010, ISBN 978-80-81150-13-5