Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Fri January 22 2016

Opinion Home | Far-Sighted Field Notes

  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | January 22, 2016 11:00 PM ET

    5 Tongue-Twisting Czech Dishes to Eat With Beer

    5 Tongue-Twisting Czech Dishes to Eat With Beer

    PHOTO: Veproknedlozelo (Pork with Dumplings and Sauerkraut). (photo via Wikimedia Commons)

    The Czech Republic is famous for its beer. Czechs sometimes refer to beer as “liquid bread” and there’s even a famous Czech saying that declares, “a government that raises the price of beer will fail.” 

    Every town boasts a favorite brew, and there are typically dozens to choose from in every bar or restaurant. I quickly discovered that beer or pivo sampling is a really accessible aspect of Czech culture.

    But what to eat with it?

    Czech cuisine tends to be heavy, with a big emphasis on meat, hearty soups, sauces and dumplings. The dishes also tend to be difficult to pronounce so I can’t clearly recall the names of the food that I tasted, only that they paired well with beer!  Here’s a handy list of dishes to try the next time you’re sipping a local brew in the Czech Republic:

    Bramboracka (Potato Soup with Mushrooms)

    My very first taste of Czech cooking was this comforting and creamy soup. It was a cold and drizzling fall evening and I had been walking around Prague for hours, gawking at the dreamy landscape. I walked into a restaurant with a blazing fire and this soup was the first thing I saw on the menu that looked familiar.

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    Served in a rustic bread bowl, it was filled with wild mushrooms. The flavor was rich and satisfying, and those fungi supplied an extra kick. I later learned that potato soup is a Czech classic and the most popular soup served at home and in restaurants, so you will not have a problem finding it.

    Sv’ickov’a Oma’cka (Beef Sirloin with Cream Sauce)

    This is another classic dish that you’ll find offered all over the country. It’s usually accompanied by spongy bread dumplings called knedli’ky and then topped with a lemon slice, cranberries and whipped cream. I don’t eat red meat, which can be a tad tricky in a meat-focused country like the Czech Republic, but I managed to get a version with chicken. It was definitely an unusual flavor combination for me, but beer cuts the richness of the sauce pretty well.

    Veproknedlozelo (Pork with Dumplings and Sauerkraut)

    The ultimate in beloved Czech dishes, I saw this concoction offered on every menu, in every town that I visited. Pork is a huge favorite with Czechs and every part seems to be used, from the neck to the shank. I’m not sure which part was used for this dish but a generous helping of sauerkraut camouflages the high fat content and makes it a great taste blending with beer.

    Utopenci (Pickled Pork Sausage)

    This is a popular bar offering that you’ll also see on some restaurant menus. The sausage is pickled in a zesty vinegar marinade and served cold with bread. Of course, the tangy, meaty flavor goes perfectly with beer. This was the one dish that I managed to pronounce and I’m sure it’s because of the bizarre story behind the name. Utopenci translates to “drowned man,” apparently referring to the way the inventor of the snack, a pub owner, kicked the bucket.

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    Ovocne’ Knedli’ky (Fruit Dumplings)

    Czechs love their dumplings but I was surprised to find that they also enjoy sweet versions. Fresh, fruit dumplings are a staple for home cooks but I spotted them on many restaurant menus as well. They are filled with whatever fruit is in season, which was apricots and plums when I was there, and covered with butter and curd cheese. Surprisingly, they weren’t served for dessert but as part of the main course. They also make a light and refreshing pairing to beer.    


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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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