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Lesson Transcript

Gabriella:Hi, everyone, and welcome back to CzechClass101.com! I’m Gabriella! This is All About, lesson 7: Top 5 Czech Dishes.
Martin:Hi everyone. I’m Martin.

Lesson focus

Gabriella:Czech cuisine is rich and varied. There are many dishes to match with all that good Czech beer and wine. Although it’s not exactly low in calories, Czech cuisine has many specialties that you won’t find easily elsewhere.
Martin:That’s right. In this lesson, we’ll start by telling you some major features of Czech cuisine and the food culture there.
Gabriella:It is thought that in the past, because of the harsh winters and meals functioning as a key to survival, Czech meals tend to be rather heavy.
Martin:Yes, the main components are meat, potatoes or dumplings, which are a bread-like food made from flour, eggs and yeast and boiled. It is not unusual to see a menu offering poultry like...goose, duck, or chicken, or red meat like venison, pork and beef.
Gabriella:Sometimes you can also get rabbit, can’t you?
Martin: That’s right. Fish is less common because the Czech Republic has no sea, but you can find grilled trout, which is a river fish, or carp, which is served exclusively at Christmas time.
Gabriella:In the Czech Republic, vegetables used to be pickled to preserve them, rather than serving them fresh, but the way vegetables are being served has been changing with the awareness of a healthy lifestyle and a desirable slim waistline.
Martin:That’s right. Besides traditional meals, many restaurants also offer fresh salads that can be eaten as a main dish too.
Gabriella:Having said that, it seems that traditional meals are still really popular. On the contrary.
Martin:That’s correct. Suffering for a long time from a limited access to good quality foods in the socialist era, the Czechs increasingly like to cook fresh, traditional and regional meals including food of ‘’the poor’’, various delicious sauces, and anything that Czech grandmothers used to cook.
Gabriella:Right. Fresh ingredients have also become an important part of Czech cuisine, and going to a farmer’s market to buy potatoes or herbs is considered the best.
Martin:Yeah, many Czech foods are now made using fresh herbs. The main herbs or spices regarded as very traditional are kmín or caraway seed, which is used for baking different kinds of bread, cooking potatoes or grilling chicken.
Gabriella:Okay, what’s the next one?
Martin:The next one is kopr, dill, which is particularly suitable for pickled gherkins or the dill sauce that is traditionally served with beef. And lastly majoránka, (marjoram), a herb that tastes great in some thick sauces as well as Czech potato soup or potato pancakes. These are an indispensable part of Czech cuisine.
Gabriella:Czech people are very hospitable, especially if they learn this is your first to visit their country. They will always ask you if you’ve already tried this and that dish, and if you haven’t, they will probably invite you to eat it with them. And of course, to have a beer with them! It’s easy to become friends over a pint of beer in a local Czech pub.
Martin:Absolutely. The Czech Republic is well known to the world for its great beer production! The most famous brands are Pilsner Urquell, which was invented in Czech, or the most widely exported Budvar, which is known as Budweiser abroad.
Gabriella:And Martin, I have a question. Although Czech people don’t tend to eat shared food in the middle of the table, is there any special table etiquette?
Martin:Yes! While the basic rules apply, such as do not speak with your mouth full, wipe your mouth with a napkin after and in between meals, do not put your elbows on the table and so on, there are some other things to keep in mind too.
Gabriella:Oh, what are they?
Martin:Firstly, never lick your knife to clean it of remaining food. This is totally against Czech table etiquette.
Gabriella:Ok, and what’s the next one?
Martin:Secondly, don’t make loud noises when eating - in particular, don’t slurp when you eat your soup! It is highly irritating and impolite.
Gabriella:I see. It’s interesting that slurping is impolite, while in some other countries it’s perceived as showing appreciation for the food. What’s another one?
Martin:It’s important you don’t try to get food stuck in your teeth out at the dining table! Nobody wants to see it! Excuse yourself and take a toothpick to the men’s or ladies’ room.
Gabriella:And lastly?
Martin: Don’t forget to address people who are dining with you by saying ‘’ dobrou chut’ ’’before you start eating.
Gabriella:Is that like saying “Bon appetit”?
Martin:Yes. Like other countries, Czech people also say something like “enjoy your meal” before they eat.
Gabriella:Ok, now that we have those tips Martin, let’s tell our listeners about some popular foods in the Czech Republic.
Martin:This is the good bit! Here are “The Top 5 Czech Dishes”. Number 5 is... tatarský biftek
Gabriella:“Steak tartare”. The basics of this delicious food are raw beef sirloin that is minced or very finely chopped with the tip of a sharp knife. It is served along with onion, mustard, salt, pepper and worcester sauce, and according to one’s taste sweet paprika, chilli or ketchup can be added.
Martin:It is all topped up with a raw egg and mixed together well. This mixture is then placed on the top of a well toasted/fried bread with garlic that is called topinka.
Gabriella:Okay, and what’s the next one?
Martin:Number four is “Guláš”
Gabriella:Ah, yes, we’ve talked about this one before!
Martin:We sure did! And it’s sure worth a try because it’s delicious!
Gabriella:Historically speaking, goulash originates from Hungary where this dish is made like a soup from meat cubes soaked in onion sauce and seasoned with paprika. A long time ago this dish, became popular and spread across the whole of Europe from Hungary, but it was adjusted by adding flour to make it a thick sauce with meat, rather than soup.
Martin:That's right. Therefore, the Czech version of goulash is different, and can be compared to an English stew. It’s usually made using beef or pork, but some people make goulash with venison or game.
Gabriella:The basic ingredients are meat, onion, ground paprika, tomato paste, and beef or venison bouillon. All of this is stewed in a large pot. To achieve the right thickness, flour, bread or corn starch can be added to the mixture and more seasoning can be added to adjust the flavor.
Martin:For those who prefer spicy foods, they can add chilli peppers. Making gulas is so popular that there is a “Best Cooked Goulash” contest held annually in the small town of Rakvice.
Gabriella:A goulash making contest - that sounds like fun! What is our next dish?
Martin:Number 3 - smažený sýr
Gabriella:“Fried cheese”. Among the main meals of the Czech Republic, a classic vegetarian dish is smažený sýr, which is typically served with boiled potatoes and tartar sauce.
Martin:The types of cheese used for frying are Camembert and Edam. They are sliced thinly, covered in flour, egg and breadcrumbs, and quickly deep fried. This food is relatively easy to make and it’s quick, so it can be also purchased as a fast food on the streets, where the cheese is placed between slices of a rounded bread roll.
Gabriella:At some restaurants, they will be happy to wrap it for you if you want to take the food out.
Martin:Next, number 2 is svíčková na smetaně
Gabriella:“Steak sirloin in cream sauce!” If you travel to the Czech Republic, one of the must-eat dishes is Svíčková na smetaně. Although it’s traditionally a winter dish because of its thick consistency, you can find it in most restaurants throughout the year, especially in the tourist areas, to give people the opportunity to eat it at any time.
Martin:In winter, however, if you come from the cold outside, this rich dish is exactly what you need to warm you up. This meat is cut from the best part of beef, marinated with vegetables like onion, carrots, parsley root and celeriac, and double cream, in which the meat is also cooked along with spices like bay leaf, black pepper, allspice and thyme.
Gabriella:Served with soft bread dumplings boiled and sliced, a spoonful of whipped cream and cranberries, this meal satisfies even the pickiest of eaters. At home, Czech people enjoy this dish primarily on Sundays as a family meal.
Martin:And Number 1... of course is Vepřo-knedlo-zelo
Martin:This is the most popular traditional Czech food and vepřo-knedlo-zelo is a very colloquial title of this national dish.
Gabriella:Roast pork with bread dumplings and steamed cabbage consists of three parts served together on one plate:roasted and sliced pork, bread or potato dumplings also sliced, and steamed white or red cabbage, or sauerkraut. After these three items have been placed on the plate, the meat juice that was created during roasting is poured over it. This way, the dumplings are not dry and are easier to eat when soaked in the juice. The custom is to drink a pint of beer with this dish.
Martin:Great! Listeners, are you feeling hungry yet?
Gabriella:I know I am! For more information, be sure to check out the lesson notes!
Martin:Yes. Also, please leave us a comment telling us what your favorite Czech food is!


Gabriella:Thank you for listening everyone. See you next time!