Like many styles of Slavic and Eastern European cuisine, Czech cooking is not terribly complicated. But, it does have some unique features. John discusses some of those features in this episode, plus shares some announcements of potential interest to LUKA community in St. Louis. Here’s the link for the discounted tickets for the Czech cooking event, and here’s the transcript for this Czech cooking podcast: Continue reading “Czech Cooking, Plus Some Announcements”
Eastern European cuisine is not typically known for meatless options, but mushrooms are a common ingredient when you encounter them. It’s not surprising when you consider the fleshy texture and savory umami flavors of edible fungi. Buddhist monks have known for millennia that mushrooms can satisfy a meat craving, and there is a rich tradition of mushroom-based meat substitutes in Buddhist cuisine.
As I’ve mentioned, my visit to the Czech Republic was short. But, I was in Prague long enough to eat in a few restaurants. Because Prague is a popular tourist destination, restaurateurs know that they need to cater to a wide variety of dietary restrictions. Gluten-free menu options still don’t seem to be so common, but vegetarian and vegan dishes have become more commonplace.
I thought the upcoming Czech dinner would be the perfect time to introduce a vegetarian option to LUKA events. Mushrooms are prized in Eastern European and Slavic countries not only as an ingredient, but also as an activity. Foraging for edible mushrooms has long been a fun way to spend time with family and friends.
Two of my favorite mushroom species are the King Trumpet and Oyster. They both have great flavor and texture, so the meat-free option at the Czech dinner will feature them braised with a plant-based version of the onion-caraway sauce. I happen to know that the earthy perfume of caraway plays very well with mushrooms. I’m confident that it will be delicious.
Tickets remain for that event, but they’re going fast. Check out the event listing on Eventbrite to get your seats.
Around this time in 2013, I was on my way back to St. Louis from Zagreb. Six months there had depleted my resources and my will to engage Croatian residence bureaucracy any further, but while in Zagreb I had finished and published my book, Dalmatian Cooking. A big sale of books to a Croatian cultural organization in New Zealand was getting me home.
Czech Republic was just a layover en route to Amsterdam, where I would stay with a high school friend until flying back to the US. I only spent four days in Prague, near the central train station downtown. I would have stayed there forever if I was in any position to go through Czech residence bureaucracy. Prague is exquisitely beautiful, and Czech food is a simple, homey delight.
And, you can eat very cheaply there. During the lunchtime hours, many restaurants in Czech Republic (or Czechia, if you prefer the more elegant name) offer a short list of basic, homestyle dishes, ready to serve and offered at a very low price, often as low of 150 Czech koruna ($6.50 USD!).