Food and Drink in the Czech Republic and Slovakia
The two republics have several cultural common denominators. Meat and alcohol consumption are among the greatest of these shared traits.
If you are an indiscriminate carnivore who likes to wash down well-done cuts of meat with copious quantities of beer, follow your palate’s desire right into the land-locked heart of Eastern Europe, where menus read all turf and little surf.
Taste is relative, though. If you come from a meat-and-potatoes background, you might not mind the food. A Czech fellow in his mid-forties – a former dissident who never signed on with the communist party – explained:
“Because I am a translator and an interpreter, I had the opportunity to leave Czechoslovakia prior to the revolution. I could have gone to France or Sweden, but I would have missed Czech cooking, and that was one of the main reasons I stayed.”
Meat and potatoes, or versions thereof, are the staples of the Czech and Slovak diets. Stewed meat served with dumplings is very common. Given the very conservative use of spices, most dishes are relatively bland. Vegetables are given short shrift in both countries, while dairy products are common ingredients in many dishes.
Vegetarians should familiarize themselves with Czech and Slovak food vocabularies in order to avoid tainting their diets with meat products.
Vegans are advised to steer clear of the region, unless they are willing to spend a great deal of time learning the language, shopping for ingredients, and cooking for themselves. There simply are not many Czechs or Slovaks who will understand the absolute avoidance of all animal products in their diet.
On a positive note, food prices are affordable. Beer and wine is usually cheap, too, and especially in Prague, you can purchase almost any gourmet ingredient at the giant supermarkets. The K-Mart supermarket in Prague even has an “American Import Aisle” with taco mix, peanut butter, maple syrup, and pancake mix.