With its variety of roasted games dishes, thick sauces, soups, and hearty dumplings, Czech food seems to have been made for wintertime tables. If you haven’t mastered these dishes or at least discovered the best spots for eating them, now is the time to learn!
Roasted Goose (Pečená Husička)
Roasted goose with dumplings and red cabbage is a warming winter meal best eaten on November 11, paired with St. Martin’s wine, the Czech answer to Beaujolais. The Svatomartinské feast heralds the coming of St. Martin on his white horse (an allegory for the snowy season).
Czech gingerbread hails from the town of Pardubice where the art of making it began around 1515. The tradition is so strong that the EU has made “Pardubice gingerbread” a protected food in both its forms: honeyed gingerbread shapes decorated with marzipan and the spongier variety.
Try all kinds of gingerbread including sakrajdička, a gingerbread strudel filled with plum jam, at the delightful Perníčkův sen (Gingerbread Dream) a fairytale cottage in Old Town.
Potato Pancakes (Bramborák)
A crisp and savory indulgence that is common throughout Central and Eastern Europe, the Czech version incorporates finely grated raw potatoes, flour, eggs, garlic, salt, and marjoram and occasionally smoked meat. It can be served as a side dish or fried into a hubcap-size portion and served as the main event.
Try them at a Czech medieval tavern—we reviewed a list of worthy places below or see our story on one Prague family’s Hanukkah latke tradition for a good recipe.
A Czech take on apple pie that is a beloved childhood comfort food for many Czechs, žemlovka has a number of variations but is basically comprised of sliced, stale rohlík or sliced bread that has been soaked in milk, sweetened with sugar and cinnamon, sprinkled with raisins and baked in layers.
This winter treat can be eaten warm or cold and while you can occasionally find it on restaurant menus, it’s best enjoyed homemade. See our recipe above.
While it seems synonymous with Czech cuisine, goulash didn’t actually arrive in Czech lands until 1910 via the cookbook Household Cookery by Magdalena Dobromila Rettigova, who presented the Hungarian recipe for goulash, while Hungary itself was first introduced to the dish by the invading Turkish army in 1526.
The Czechs have certainly made it their own often infusing theirs with the national beverage and serving with lots of raw onion on top. Try some this weekend at the Pivo and Goulash festival at the Karlín farm market this weekend or see our article above to make your own.