Svíčková omáčka

In Mailbox today: the planned controversial National Library building; the rising status of Czech cuisine; the “dancing king” of Cambodia; May competition question – correction; a listener’s complaint about alleged discrimination in Radio Prague’s monthly quizzes. Listeners quoted: Lipa from Prague, Tony Prescott, Erin Slattery, Ian Morrison.

Thanks for tuning in to Mailbox and for keeping your letters and e-mails coming. First of all, I would like to apologise to our faithful listener Mark Guy, who’s not from Massachusetts as I wrongly said last week but, of course, from Mississippi.

Now, on to your comments regarding our broadcasts. A listener from Prague who only signed as Lipa responds to the recent developments regarding the planned new controversial building of the National Library in Prague.

“At last, some hope for sanity re the National Library! Had this octopus design been proposed as a cap for the planned oceanarium, everyone would have recognized immediately that it is pure kitsch and does not belong in Letná park.”

We have been getting e-mails both in favour and against the planned construction of the National Library’s new building. What do you think – should Jan Kaplicky’s futuristic “blob” or “octopus” be built in Prague or not? Send us your views to [email protected] and we’ll read them on the air.

We have also received letters reacting to a mouth-watering report by Rob Cameron. This e-mail is from Tony Prescott, Australia:

“In response to your article about restaurants in Prague and the Michelin Star award, you may be interested to know that Czech cuisine is having its own mini-renaissance in Sydney, Australia. Here we have no less than seven Czech restaurants and the traditional cuisine is very popular with Australians who love the delicious flavours and good value-for-money. Svíčková is our kids' favourite dish, the only restaurant food they will eat without complaining! So don't disparage your national cuisine – it has more fans than you think!”

Erin Slattery follows our programmes in Prague:

“I always enjoy reading the features on your English pages, and I particularly enjoyed the article on the rising status of Czech food and restaurants, by Rob Cameron, as I just did a ‘Foodblog’ on Prague last week.”

Do you have a favourite Czech dish and would you like to share the recipe? Or is there a restaurant serving Czech cuisine near your house? Again, we’d be interested to know.

If you listened to Mailbox two weeks ago, you may remember that a listener from Cambodia was asking about the most famous Czech ballet dancer. Our regular listener Ian Morrison from Beijing heard the programme and sent us this e-mail:

After listening to Mailbox today I just wanted to make an interesting point in relation to the question from the Cambodian listener about the most famous Czech ballet dancer – the current King of Cambodia, Norodom Sihamoni studied classical dance and music in Prague in the 1970s.”

He did indeed and he learnt fluent Czech at that time. Radio Prague did mention the fact in a broadcast almost four years ago just prior to Norodom Sihamoni’s coronation. The king of Cambodia is most probably the only monarch in the whole world who speaks Czech. The report is available at:

As your answers to our monthly quiz are coming in, our regular listener Colin Law from New Zealand pointed out to us that the answer is not so simple as it might seem from the question. This is what I asked last Sunday:

This month we would like you to tell us the name of the first ever Czech to win an Olympic medal. Here’s a clue: it was at the 1900 Paris Olympics and he competed in the same discipline as Olga Fikotová, our April mystery lady.

Now, the thing is that at those games, there were two medallists from Bohemia – but only one was sent there by the Czech Olympic Committee. Therefore the other athlete is not usually listed in official Czech statistics. However, either answer qualifies and many thanks to Colin in New Zealand for alerting us to that.

One more thing before I go. There has been a complaint from a listener who feels discriminated against because he has not yet won in our monthly contest. The thing is that we simply cannot consider entries which are in obvious violation of copyright. We do not have the means to investigate every single entry but if it is obvious that the whole answer was just copied and pasted from a website complete with the hyperlinks and images, we just have to disregard it.

Also, I’m afraid, sending the exact same e-mail ten times does not increase anyone’s chances of winning. This is not school and I sincerely hope you take part in the quizzes for the fun of it because that’s why we run them and it’s a pleasure to read your answers every month and see what different people from around the world have to say to the subject.

And I mustn’t forget that next Sunday is Czech Radio’s big day – it will be exactly 85 years since it went on air. It seems like yesterday that we celebrated its 80th birthday. Anyway, make sure you listen on that day if you’d like to receive a very special QSL card for your collection. Thanks for listening today and have a great week!