On a recent trip to Prague, I got to taste true Bohemian food. Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic and former capital of the region of Bohemia, which is where the food gets its name. Prague turned out to be more beautiful than any of the photos I have seen, and the locals are some of the friendliest people I have encountered in my many travels around the globe.
A little research before the trip revealed that the traditional Czech diet can be boiled down to two staples: potatoes and meat. Truthfully, I didn’t have very high hopes for the food, but I was thrilled to get to explore the city and immerse myself in a new culture. However, the biggest surprise was the food. Indeed, meat and potatoes were always present, but not in any way I expected. The variety and combination of these dietary staples with other foods made for balanced, nutritious and tasty meals.
Meat options were abundant and included delicacies such as grilled smoked pork neck, baked rabbit leg, spicy pickled sausage, roasted duck, marinated sirloin and the notorious schnitzel. For those who want a lighter meal, freshwater fish is almost always available on the menu and I always found it to be fresh and delicious. It’s easy to get carried away and splurge on food while traveling, so it’s good to keep in mind to have a balanced diet. I was happy to see fish was easily available, not only because it’s a favorite of mine, but also the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that healthy adults get at least 8 oz. (2 deck-of-cards-sized servings) of fish per week, because they have heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
The sides proved to be as creative and diverse as the main course. Potatoes came baked, fried, sautéed, cooked as dumplings, pancakes, soups or salads. Potatoes contain nutrients such as carbohydrates, potassium, fiber, and iron and they made a great addition to a balanced meal. But you can have too much of a good thing. The options continued with green beans, cabbage, and spinach. Meals were always finished off with horseradish, mustard and sometimes pickles. Did I mention, I love pickles?
By now you can tell I fell in love with the Czech main dishes! And then there were the …
Trdelnik is a traditional sweet bread sprinkled with sugar and walnuts, soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside. It is always served warm, and the dough is baked over hot coals after being wrapped around a thick wooden stick. Nowadays, you can enjoy it with a side of ice cream, or fruit, which I certainly did … almost every day I was there!
A week in Prague felt too short, and I look forward to returning in the near future to further explore the city, the countryside, and more of the Bohemian cuisine.