Czech Christmas table

Smazený kapr a bramborový salát

Welcome to the ABC of Czech in which this season we explore Czech vocabulary related to food and cuisine. The series is slowly drawing to a close, but it would not be complete without a look at the Czech Christmas table - vánoční stůl. So even though Christmas is still some time away, it will be our topic for today.

Houbový kuba
The most important festive day in Czech tradition is Christmas Eve - Štědrý den, or "generous day". Despite its name, one is supposed to be very modest when it comes to food. Legend has it that if you fast all day on Christmas Eve, you will be able to see a golden pig in the evening - zlaté prasátko. Only a few people respect that tradition these days but many eat meatless dishes for lunch, such as houbový kuba - a traditional meal made from barley and mushrooms. In the past, people ate for example apple strudel - jablečný závin or štrúdl or a typical Czech Christmas cake - vánočka.

Smažený kapr a bramborový salát
By the evening everyone has worked up their appetite for the festive dinner of fried carp - smažený kapr with potato salad - bramborový salát. Some families also have fish soup - rybí polévka. Czechs are not great fish-eaters, so some people prefer wienerschnitzel - vepřový řízek on their Christmas Eve table. In the Czech Republic, too, Christmas has become a feast of consumption to some extent and the main cause of those extra pounds one has to lose in January are Christmas cookies - vánoční cukroví which you can't escape because even if you don't bake your own, your colleagues and friends will bring you their samples. There are dozens of varieties and every family has slightly different recipes. Many women start baking the Christmas cookies as early as the beginning of December. By Christmas they have to bake a new batch because the first one will have mysteriously disappeared.

There is no fixed tradition as to meals on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, but roast duck pečená kachna is a favourite feature.

We've covered the most important Christmas food vocabulary and next time we'll take a look at the New Year's table. Till then dobrou chuť - bon appetit!