Experiencing a new country involves using all of one’s senses. New sights, sounds, and tastes are abundant. I particularly enjoy trying the food of the region and my trip to the Czech Republic was no different.
My first experience with Czech cuisine was a platter of traditional fare. Dumplings—both bread and potato—formed the starch base for two types of cabbage and four different meats: sausage, roast pork, ham, and duck. This platter was enough to feed three people and cost roughly $12.
The most impressive item that I encountered was a so-called Wedding Feast. On the recommendation of a dining companion, we ordered this feast for four people, which could have easily fed eight. The platter was similar to the previous platter with the addition of a bacon dumpling. The dishes offered similar flavors and it was all excellent.
Street food in different countries can yield new experiences. My father had traveled to Prague previously and encouraged me to try the street hot dogs. For a dollar, a vendor cores out the center of a roll, garnishes the space with spicy ketchup and mustard and drops in the hot dog. By placing the condiments inside the roll, the odds of a spills are significantly reduced, although not guaranteed.
When traveling abroad, a cooking class provides a unique souvenir. My wife and I took a Czech cooking class to learn how to make some of the traditional delicacies we were enjoying. We learned to make a traditional potato and mushroom soup consisting of carrot, potatoes, turnips, and mushrooms. The main course included roasted pork, white cabbage, and bread dumplings. Dessert was a simple apple strudel. Surprisingly, these items were quite easy to make and we plan on making them again soon.
Restaurants in the U.S. typically serve tap water free-of-charge. Water in Czech restaurants is bottled and mineral water is popular. I found it particularly curious that the cost of a bottle of water—usually $2-3—is often more expensive than a serving of beer, which is just $1-2. During this trip, I was introduced to so-called “new wine” which is wine that is allowed to ferment but is consumed before aging.
Overall we encountered a European dining experience that is much different than the predominant culture around Milwaukee. Restaurants are small and usually offer outdoor seating areas. The pace of meals is slower, more relaxed. Comparatively, the cost of dining out in Prague was less.
I enjoyed traveling to Prague to experience the food, take in the sights and attend a great conference. I’d like to express my gratitude to the ACS for this opportunity.