Foreign influences in Czech cuisine


Hello and welcome to the ABC of Czech in which this season we discuss words and expressions related to Czech food and cuisine. Today we'll be looking at foreign influences and foreign cuisines in the Czech Republic.

Before the fall of communism there were only a handful of restaurants serving foreign food. For example, there was a Yugoslav restaurant, a Russian one and a Chinese one in Prague. You couldn't even cook foreign food at home, because the ingredients weren't available. In the mid-1980s a Cuban and a Vietnamese restaurant appeared. But it wasn't until ten years later that the Czech Republic experienced a boom in international restaurants - although the choice still can't be compared to countries which have a longer tradition of multiculturalism.

The first to appear were Italian restaurants, serving real Italian cuisine, italská kuchyně, mainly pizza - pizza and pasta - těstoviny. Czechs have adopted the Italian word "pizzeria" but modified the pronunciation to suit their tongues.

Next came Chinese restaurants, serving Chinese cuisine - čínská kuchyně which everyone refers to as čína (literally China, but meaning Chinese).

There are also a handful of Indian restaurants with several varieties of indická kuchyně. You can also find Thai restaurants with traditional thajská kuchyně and many Greek taverns serving řecká kuchyně - or Greek cuisine. For example the Greek pita sandwich gyros has become a very popular fast food meal.

But let's not forget neighbouring Slovakia and the Slovak influences on Czech cuisine. Although Czechs and Slovaks lived in the same state for decades, their cuisines are quite different. While Czech cuisine has many German influences, Slovak cooking bears resemblance to Hungarian cuisine. The best-known Slovak meal commonly cooked in Czech families is halušky - the potato dough dumplings with bacon, sheep cheese or sauerkraut.

And as we were talking about fast food, we mustn't forget the Hungarian langoš - a deep-fried pancake from Hungary that is served with sweet or savoury toppings, garlic being the most popular. Langoš became a very popular type of fast food in this country a couple of decades ago, having arrived via Slovakia.

And that's all we can fit in today, till next time dobrou chuť and bon appetit!