Monday, July 21, 2008

About the Kolac

The Czechs love their bread. So I’ve heard… though it seems to be true, based on observing the Spacek family. Andy often tells me that I can’t judge all Czechs based on what my experience with the Spacek family is, because the Spaceks are unique in their practices. So please, anytime I do seem to make what seems like a generalization about the Czechs, know it probably is specific only to the Spaceks.

My dear friend Crapper (a pseudonym and affection nickname to protect her identity) will be visiting us here with her equally lovely significant other, and Crapper told me that there is a little concern when it comes to the Czech food, since the sig. other is a little… shall we say, cautious, with food intake. Well, let me lay it all out on the table, in terms of my experience.

Bread with cheese and salami. This is a normal meal at the house. It can serve as breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack. It’s quite tasty, though please, put away those calorie counters. The Czech Republic is not a place to watch your weight (unless you’re me, doing a non-lite food experiment to prove a conspiracy, in which case I’m only watching my weight in terms of eating things like this very meal) and especially not a place to be watching your carbs.

In this household we eat one large meal a day, being lunch (a few hours after the bread, cheese and salami), which can be a traditional Czech meal like goulash (but with knedliky instead of potatoes!), chicken paprikash, and my favorite, svickova (meat in a pureed vegetable sauce with cranberry sauce and knedliky), pan-seared or pan-fried chicken breast, raw vegetables (usually tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers) and knedliky or potatoes. Then you either eat leftovers for dinner, or have a snack (see bread, cheese and salami, above).

If we are out, though, we might eat some very interesting things. Often, at a pub, while drinking beer, I will eat one of my favorite pub foods, hermelin. Hermelin is awesome – it’s oil covered camembert cheese (so the say; it seems an accurate description), often cut in half with spicy peppers between it’s “layers” and peppers and onions on top. It rocks. You eat it with bread. Another popular pub food is Utopenec, which doesn’t often appeal to me, because it is a long kielbasa-like weiner with mustard that is pickled (which turns me off for some reason), but I love the name, which means “drowned man.” It is called this because it is stored in a jug of pickling juice.

The Czechs (this actually seems to apply to all Czechs) do love their sweets. Candy, whether bon-bons (hard candy) or chocolate, is very popular…so much so that I often see apartment windows with Orion signs, which is one of the popular chocolate makers. They also love their ice cream (zmrzlina). But, what Czechs really love is their kolac. Kolac is any kind of cake with jam, or something sweet on it. Kolac is similar to danishes, crumb cake, anything cakey like that. Kolac rocks! (When searching the internet for pictures of kolac I happened upon this, which is not what I considered kolac, but to each his own!)

Andy’s mother made one recently that is so wonderful and fluffy with merigue and currants, that I called it a cake made by magical elves, so now it’s called magicky kolac (magical cake). Yum! Crapper, surely you two will enjoy these!

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