Typical Czech food

on 14 November, 2014

Typical Czech specialties – what to explore in Czech cuisine

The word has it that Czech cuisine is not particularly healthy from the point of view of a rational diet. Despite this, there are many specialties that will pleasantly surprise you - and they are worth trying. Let's take it one by one.


Soup – the essential course

Soups are an inseparable part of Czech cuisine and are mostly made from vegetable or meat broths with various garnishes, sometimes thickened and served with bread as the main dish.

Noodle soup with liver dumplings "Polévka s játrovými knedlíčky" -  - one of the most popular soups traditionally served as a festive first course, for example, at weddings.

Kulajda – thick soup from mushrooms, potatoes and sour cream, served with cooked eggs.

Garlic soup "Česnečka" - soup of a very distinctive taste, always served with bread croutons. It is especially popular among those who have partied through the night.


Main course

Main courses are usually meat-based meals. They often consist of a sauce prepared from a cream, which is usually very thick and nourishing. The traditional side dishes are Czech dumplings (bread dumplings, leavened dumplings or potato dumplings) and, of course, any variety of potatoes.

Roast sirloin with cream sauce known as "Svíčková" - one of the favourite Czech meals and a symbol of Czech cuisine. Roast beef (sirloin) larded with bacon and topped with a cream sauce prepared from root vegetables. It is served with bread dumplings. It is a regular component of ceremonial menus.

Roast pork with dumplings and sauerkraut known as "Vepřo-knedlo-zelo" – considered to be the Czech national meal. Roast pork meat with stewed red or white sauerkraut and dumplings.
Fried schnitzel vídeňský řízek - a slice of a triple-breaded (flour, egg, breadcrumbs) pork, veal or chicken meat, served with mashed potatoes or a potato salad. Even though it is not a traditional Czech meal, it has always been always extremely popular and eaten very often.

Goulash known as "Guláš" - originally a Hungarian meal that became established in the Czech Republic and belongs to the most popular dishes in restaurants and pubs. It is served with bread or dumplings.

Roast duck or roast goose - "Pečená kachna nebo pečená husa" – is a well known Czech speciality served with sauerkraut and dumplings. The duck or the goose is glazed with honey to give it a golden colour when done. It is often prepared for festive occasions.

Potato pancakes - "Bramboráky" - thin fried pancakes from dough made of finely grated fresh potatoes. They are served warm, either as a side dish with meat, or as a full meal. They are often on the menus in fast-food restaurants.

Fried cheese - "Smažený sýr" - a Czech specialty, popular especially among children. It is prepared from a slice of triple-breaded (flour, egg, breadcrumbs) cheese and fried. It is served with mashed potatoes or French fries and Tatar sauce. It is one of the cheaper meals in restaurants.

Beer and wine with a variety of bar snacks form another inseparable part of Czech cuisine. They are a usual part of the menu in Czech restaurants. You can find more detailed information about this in the next part of the text "Meals you should not miss in the Czech Republic". In addition, you will also get to know the most popular sweet meals in Bohemia and Moravia.

The first part of this "gastro" series was devoted primarily to the main dishes that a visitor to the Czech Republic should taste. However, the variety and tastiness of sweet foods and titbits, which are also on the menu in restaurants, should not be ignored.



Sweet dumplings – "Ovocné knedlíky" - Sweet food includes the especially popular sweet dumplings, prepared either from yeast or potato dough and filled with fruit (strawberries, apricots, plums) or jam. They are served sprinkled with poppy seeds, grated quark cheese or nuts and topped with melted butter. This sweet dish is often served as the main dish and children simply love it.

Czech buns – "České buchty" - a dessert prepared from yeast dough and filled with poppy seeds, jam or quark cheese. They are regarded as a typical old Bohemian dessert.

Pardubice gingerbread – "Pardubický perník" - a honey-sweet dark brown pastry that is lavishly decorated. The original production location is the town of Pardubice. Gingerbread is often cut into various shapes – the most popular motif is a heart. He who does not purchase a gingerbread heart at a fair is like a person who did not even go to the fair. You can symbolically profess your love to the one you hold dear and, then, both of you can enjoy eating it together.

Štramberk ears – "Štramberské uši" - a popular regional confectionery product made from gingerbread dough shaped into a cone. The name is derived from the town of Štramberk, where it is also made. In 2007, they became a protected product in the European Union as an original food product.

"Frgál" – a traditional pie from the Wallachia region in the shape of large round pies, the history of which dates back more than 200 years. They are, usually, filled with quark cheese and garnished with jam, and poppy seeds or marmalade. They were, traditionally, baked during celebrations, and holidays, such as Christmas, and Easter.


Cold dishes, and titbits

If you are not very hungry and do not crave something sweet, but would like to taste a typical food from the Czech Republic, then titbits to go along with beer or wine are ideal – or just something small and tasty. On menus, they are often listed under the Starters or directly in a special section called Titbits (Chuťovky). Many certainly do not belong to a healthy cuisine but they combine perfectly with beer.

Traditional pub titbits served with beer, in the Czech Republic, include an "utopenec", a sausage pickled in spiced vinegar.

A pig slaughter speciality - "tlačenka" - headcheese with onions and vinegar, and Hermelin - camembert pickled in oil with garlic and hot peppers are delicious with cold beer on tap. A popular beer delicacy, although it does not smell great, is beer cheese.

This category also includes two other cheeses popular especially among beer drinkers: "Romadur" cheese, similar to a Limburger, but softer and milder, and "Olomoucké tvarůžky", a ripened soft cheese with a pungent taste, with fresh bread and butter. Olomoucké tvarůžky are even protected by the European Union, as an EU protected geographical indication. This titbit has been eaten in the Olomouc Region since the mid-15th century.

One cannot forget homemade lard with pork cracklings and pork crackling spread. A favourite is a tartare steak made from raw beef and served with garlic toast. Toast is also often on menus, e.g. with a spicy meat or vegetable mix or with an omelette. Warm titbits decidedly include a roasted pork knee - "Pečené koleno", roast ribs, and the typical pork white pudding sausage - "klobása". However, these kinds of food are definitely not for those on a diet or with a weak stomach.

A typical Czech titbit, to chase hunger away, is the open sandwich - "chlebíček" which is served with various ingredients – ham, salami, egg, vegetable, etc. Open sandwiches are usually served at all celebrations, and parties.


What to drink?

It does not matter which Czech specialty you try, do not forget to supplement it with typical local drinks. The Czech Republic is considered to be a beer superpower, so you should, definitely, not leave the country without having a swig of beer (taste our high quality beer Pilsner Urquell - "Plzeň" or Budweiser Budvar). Our country can also boast of having high quality wines, especially white wines, so when enjoying Czech food, order a Czech wine, please.

Traditional Czech Becherovka is a great digestif. This bittersweet herbal liqueur from the famous spa town of Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), thanks to its curative effects, earned the nickname the "Thirteenth Spring" of Karlovy Vary.