Thick soups, steamed vegetables, and roasted meats are some of the popular dishes that make up Czech food culture. Most countries in Central Europe almost have similar cuisines, but there is something unique about Czech cuisine that makes it stand out.
It’s fresh, tasty, and satiating, making Czech recipes extremely popular. Today we are going to be looking at 25 fascinating facts about Czech food culture.
History of Czech Food Culture
The history of Czech Cuisine goes back to the Slavic settlement that happened around the 6th century. It’s believed that this country’s food culture started more than 1200 years ago and it’s deeply rooted in traditional culinary rituals.
Meals used to be prepared over fire and agriculture was the main source of food. The natives were herders with large herds of cattle. Due to that, lots of meat and dairy products featured (and still do) in the peasants’ food culture.
Religion has had minimal impact on the way Czechs prepare and eat food. Almost 80% of the population is Christian and so families normally enjoy Easter and Christmas together.
However, part of Czech’s cuisine is heavily influenced by its neighbors. That’s why it’s easy to find Slovakian, German, Austrian, and Hungarian dishes here.
Regionally, there is no clear distinction between how different parts of this country specialize in food preparation. Geographically, it has a moderate climate and this means that most agricultural products can be produced locally.
Geographic Food Regions in Czechia
The Czech food map isn’t so diverse. It slightly varies from one end to the next with most regions sharing local specialties. However, here are some of the most popular foods within the country.
- Hana region: The ethnographic region found in central Moravia is popular for Olomoucke tvaruzky / table cheese.
- Prague/central Bohemia: the traditional hearty Goulash meat stew
- Zlin Region: Valassky frgal sweet cake and Olomoucke tvaruzky table cheese.
- Moravian-Silesia: the administrative region is found with the mountain ranges and close to Slovakia. Popular dishes within this region include Gulas, Nosovicke kysane zeli (a fermented cabbage product), and stramberska usi cookies.
- South Bohemia: It’s found in the South of Bohemia. Popular local edibles you can find here include Koradji, Parek v rohliku (sausages with bread rolls), and Jihoceska Niva blue cheese
- South Moravia: the administrative region is found in the south-western side of Moravia. Some of the must-eats that you can have while here include sausages made by game meat and Pohorelicky kapr fish.
- Pardubice Region: it’s found on the eastern part of the Bohemia and it’s popular for food varieties such as Svickova beef dish, Pardubický perník sweet pastry, and Gulas.
- Plzen Region: it’s the 3rd-largest region in this republic and it’s located in the western part of Bohemia. The most popular dishes are the Gulas stew and Knedliky dumplings.
- Karlovy Vary Region: it’s located on the western side of Bohemia. Karlovarske oplatky flat wafers and Abertam cheese are the most common edibles associated with this region.
25 Quick Facts About Czech Food Culture
1. The beginnings of the Czech cuisine can be traced back to when this nation was formed and the first recipe was written in the 15th century.
2. The country has always relied on domestic raw materials from local trade, hunting, cattle breeding, and farming for its food products.
3. External influence has played a significant role in the formulation of Czech cuisine. This country borrows a lot from Slovakia, Germany, Austria, and Hungary.
4. Czechs are gourmands and they love fatty foods.
5. The Czech cuisine is heavy and highly satiating because it’s centered on starches and meats.
6. Even though this country has so many administrative regions, it is difficult to point out one food that’s associated with a specific region. This is because all the traditional dishes in this country are prepared in the same way, regardless of the region.
7. The main condiments used to prepare most meals include salt, thyme, caraway, and red/black pepper.
8. The traditional Czech cuisine is so unique and it comes in a wide array of flavors.
9. Street food isn’t something new and it has been around for centuries.
10. Goulash is the most popular type of dish even though it originated from Hungary.
11. A typical snidane i.e. breakfast usually consists of butter, eggs, cheese, tea, and coffee.
12. Potatoes and meat form the basis of most food varieties.
13. Fresh vegetables are very rare due to the long and cold winters. That’s why most salads usually have cucumbers and tomatoes only.
14. Czech isn’t located close to any large water body so seafood is mainly imported.
15. The bohemian style of cooking is very common and it involves filling meals that are prepared with basic ingredients.
16. Open flames are very common during food preparations and microwaved food is often frowned upon.
17. Czechs love meat options such as beef, poultry, fish, pork, and venison.
18. Czechs are very healthy and have few nutritional problems because they eat lots of fresh foods.
19. Garlic is an important ingredient that’s used to prepare most medicinal soups. Besides that, a bowl of garlic is usually placed under the dinner table to offer families protection as per the Czech Christmas customs.
20. It’s a common tradition that the head of the household and guests get served first.
21. Fork and knife are important cutlery during meals and they are usually left crossed on the table until one finishes eating.
22. Beer is a common drink in most occasions. In fact, most of the regional administrative areas are very popular for beer production.
23. History indicates that this country started to produce beer from the 1000s and its beers are considered among the best globally.
24. The dietary habits of Czechs are similar to those in other European countries.
25. The use of cabbage is widespread and it’s normally served as a side dish.
Most Popular Czech Food
The basis of most food varieties in Czech ranges from meat, potatoes, bread, and soups. Even though there is a heavy similarity between current food options and those used in traditional settings, there are notable upgrades in terms of preparation techniques and ingredients used. The most popular Czech food include:
Meat or Meat?
A typical meal in this republic usually consists of meat. Roasted meat, meatballs, stuffed varieties, and stews are some of the most common and they are usually made from pork, beef, and game meat. Popular meat varieties include:
Goulash’s origins can be traced back to medieval Hungary. It’s still a popular food in central Europe, including Czech. The traditional Czech food is commonly served during winter and it’s one of the simplest dishes that you can try from this country.
Goulash is a tasty pork stew that’s seasoned with paprika in addition to dark red sauce. It’s normally accompanied with plain bread or steamed dumplings. Generally, it’s a versatile meal that can be used with a wide range of ingredients.
For instance, you can use game meat or beef instead of pork. Besides that, the rustic dish can also feature caraway seeds, mushrooms, thinner or thicker broths, and marjoram among others.
This is a boneless type of meat that is uniquely prepared to ensure that you have a savory experience. When compared to other types of similar cuisines, Escalope is sometimes regarded as the local version of Wiener schnitzel from Austria.
It’s made using a combination of thin tenderized meat that’s then coated with eggs, flour, and breadcrumbs. To cook, you need to slowly fry it in butter or oil and then serve it with plain boiled or mashed potatoes.
The meat variety in Czech is impressive. Every meat dish actually tastes different. Well, this is due to the preparation techniques as well as the ingredients you need. Some of them take less than an hour to prepare and others like this one, you need to set time aside for it.
This isn’t a simple dish and Svickova needs around three hours to prepare! But if we look at how it’s sweet and tickles the taste buds, we understand why this meaty sauce is the winner of sauce-based dishes in Czech. It even has a national status since it’s normally served during important events.
Svickova is normally made by slowly roasting beef sirloin with vegetables. These ingredients are spiced with thyme, bay leaf, and black pepper. Note that the vegetables are usually removed and then pureed with the meat juice.
This meat sauce can be served with bread dumplings. To add taste and make it juicy, the meat is topped with a piece of lemon, whipped cream, and cranberry sauce. It’s not easy to find Svickova in most restaurants since it’s not easy to prepare.
Czech Bread Options
Bread rolls are important in Czech since they form the basis of most food pairings. Whether it’s soups, potatoes, or meat delicacies, bread seems to be the favorite companion. The most commonly used Czech bread include the likes of:
Bread rolls are everywhere but you can only find Houska in the Czech Republic. First, this bread can sometimes refer to a sweet type of bread that’s served during Easter and Christmas. But for day to day consumption, the basic Houska bread is usually a simple bread roll that has a small size.
Unlike its special counterpart, this roll is made with salt, yeast, and wheat flour. Those who want to make it softer sometimes add eggs. Even though its exterior usually looks hard or crispy, the insides are actually soft and provide a good feeling to the mouth. This edible is normally consumed during breakfasts, just like the usual bread. So, you can apply butter and other types of spreads.
Almost every country has its own favorite type of sandwich. In Czech, a favorite among locals is the Chlebicek open sandwich. Research suggests that it’s popular in Slovak cuisine but this isn’t strange since these countries are neighbors.
The first type of this sandwich was originally sold at Paukert Deli. However, it quickly became very popular among the actors who were at the National Theater nearby. Over the years, the popularity of Chlebicek grew significantly and it has become a staple sandwich that also features in celebrations.
There are numerous types of open sandwiches globally but Chlebicek is unique in its own way. This is because it is available in multiple flavors and its toppings are not what you’d expect to find in a sandwich. Additionally, there is a lot that goes on in terms of presentation.
Chlebicek is made with thin slices of white bread. Its topping includes lobster paste, cream cheese, and potato salad. For a juicy experience, the open sandwich also features other ingredients such as pepperoni, salmon, and tomatoes, etc.
The Czech food culture isn’t complete without soups. These edibles form an essential part of the local cuisine. Over the past centuries, the soup culture has evolved, with the traditional preparation techniques being passed to subsequent generations. From the creamy kulajda to the medicinal cesnecka, here are some of the best soups in Czechia.
Kulajda is a top Czech food that anyone should definitely try when they are sampling meals from this country. In fact, it’s considered an upgrade type of soup since it’s made with quail eggs, potatoes, sour cream, and dill. Besides those, locals also use mushrooms to enhance the soup’s thickness.
The creamy soup is an amazing blend of sweet and sour ingredients and that’s why it’s one of the most used starter soups. It quickly triggers your taste buds and prepares them for the main meal.
This is another variation of soup that has earned a good reputation among locals and foreigners alike. Even though its appearance may fool you that this is another plain soup, Zelnacka is delicious and tasty. The sauerkraut soup is made with a good amount of sauerkraut as its base.
Additionally, Zelnacka also contains sour cream, sausage, and potatoes. To make it thicker, mushrooms are sometimes added. Just like Kulajda, you can serve this soup with bread. But due to the broad range of ingredients used to make it, Zelnacka is often consumed as a main meal.
Soups are mostly used as starters with different cuisines. However, in Czech food, soup is a revered edible that can sometimes be used to manage certain discomforts. Cesnecka is a soup that has medicinal properties.
In Czech folklore, this garlic soup can be used to cure a hangover or common cold. Garlic is the main ingredient that’s used to prepare it. In addition to that, it has a few servings of marjoram and caraway spices, meat broth, onions, and potatoes.
It’s generally a healthy Czech food that’s served with a topping of croutons and grated cheese. Even though it’s loved for its ability to improve wellness, Cesnecka is still a great appetizer that can be enjoyed before any meal.
Vegetarian(-ish) Czech Food
For those who thrive on vegetables, Czech food features few vegetarian options. When ordering make sure to check with the server on the ingredients as each restaurant can vary. The most popular dishes include:
- Smazak: it’s a popular fried cheese. The traditional pub food is normally served as a block of cheese. Smazak can be consumed as a main course meal and sometimes as a starter.
- Bryndzove Halusky: this vegetarian-friendly-ish meal is considered a national dish. It features potato dumplings served (minus the bacon bits) with milk cheese from sheep.
- Kuba: it’s simply barley with mushrooms. Kuba is a type of traditional Czech food where the barley has to be cooked until it’s super soft and then later baked with mushrooms. With its gourmet taste, Kuba was considered a cheap meal and associated with the poor. However, it’s a popular edible in most restaurants currently. To enhance its taste, it’s normally flavored with certain spices and herbs.
- Bramboraky: this is a Czech variation of potato pancakes that make delicious crispy snacks. It’s prepared with grated potatoes mixed with eggs and flour.
The Czech food scene is generally amazing and sweet. Whether you are enjoying a meal at home or eating out, desserts are customary additions that are served after most meals. That’s why when eating the main meal, it’s always right to leave a little room for desserts since these delights are irresistible!
Trdelnik isn’t your usual type of dessert but it’s a type of Czech food that’s widely used in most parts of this country. The natives enjoy it so much since it’s tasty, satiating, and easy to prepare. Its origins can be traced back to Slovakia where the word Trdlo means wooden stool.
The dough is usually wrapped around a wood/metal stick and then baked or grilled. Note that this dessert can be dusted by sugar or topped with cinnamon and nuts. Because of the unique cooking technique and setup needed it’s most often found as street food.
Trdelnik should be served when it’s still warm to retain its smooth feeling since it has a crispy nature. It’s a versatile type of dessert that has undergone several upgrades with the modern versions featuring ice cream or Nutella.
The fruit and cheese dumpling is considered as one of the most traditional Czech foods under desserts. It features boiled fruit dumplings that are made with leavened dough or potato and sometimes a mixture of wheat flour and quark cheese.
Thereafter, they are usually filled with strawberries or plums and then served with butter. These dumplings have to be cooked in boiling water in order to retain their good taste and to make a sweet dessert.
Ingredients and Spices in Czech Food
Due to its regional location in Central Europe, this country tends to experience a moderate climate. And you know, such a climate means that most food varieties can do well here. Typical ingredients in most Czech meals include:
Popular Czech Ingredients
- Potatoes: Czechs are serious potato eaters and they use it to prepare soups, desserts, and main meals.
- Cabbage in addition to other Cole vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli.
- Root vegetables like carrots
- Legumes such as beans and peas
- Meat options such as beef, pork, and game meat
Popular Czech Spices
There is a wide range of traditional spices used to prepare Czech dishes. They are sourced locally as well as abroad and they include:
Czech Cooking Styles and Techniques
Even though Czech food recipes have been influenced by other cuisines, they are still extremely popular. This is because they are unique and yield food with individualized taste. Preparation methods involved in Czech cooking involve:
- Grilling – lots and lots of grilled meat!
- Frying and roasting – the technique is used with meat varieties and potatoes
- Baking – mostly used to prepare cakes, treats made with dough, and bread.
- Boiling – it’s common when preparing stews and soups
Note: when it comes to food varieties such as seafood, these are normally imported because they are mainly served in fancy restaurants. So, they are rarely sourced locally.
Czech Food Culture is Real!
The culinary delights in Czechia are still rooted in traditional cooking styles. However, they are usually fresh and delicious. This country has its own unique cooking style that comes with an individualized twist of flavor.
Generally, most locals opt to cook homemade foods as dinner time is still a family thing. Whether you want a glorious goulash, a taste stimulating soup, or a sweet cake treat, there is a wide food range to choose from. If you are looking for a defining way to enjoy a central European dish, then first start with Czech food.