Sushi and pasta are hardly among the most exotic of Prague’s culinary offerings; anyone who’s tuned into the local food scene knows that everything from Georgian chačapuri to Tibetan momos are up for grabs in the Czech capital.
A newly launched grass-roots project intends to increase the visibility of those family-run foreign restaurants, pop-ups, and food trucks we all love to seek out for the authentic tastes of home they provide.
Comprised of Prague inhabitants from Russia, Indonesia, Greece, Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Slovakia, the Czech Friendly collective is striving to pinpoint these places on a printed map and mobile app that will reflect the vast ethnic diversity available to diners in Prague.
“We want to help you not only discover the best Russian borsht, Turkish kebab, or Vietnamese bahn mi out there, but learn more about these dishs’ origins in the Czech Republic,” says spokesperson Alena Dziamidva.
The group emerged from the Youth Included organization, which promotes cultural exchange in the Czech Republic via workshops, including a popular cooking class, Hungry for Change.
The name, Dziamidva says, is meant to be provocative, with the words “Czech” and “Friendly” not exactly a common pairing:
“The first part is more related to the country in general, while the second part refers to our goal, showing that in this country we all can be friendly to one another.”
Another interesting feature of the Czech-Friendly project is its sourcing of authentic recipes from participating Czech Friendly restaurants in order to make them available on the site:
“Every recipe will be prepared by the chefs themselves, with a photo explanation, so you can feel like you have a private lesson with an old friend who wants to share something he is good at,” says Dziamidva.
Volunteers are using their knowledge as representatives of these communities to compile the map; Czech Friendly restaurants will be given a special door sticker, as well—meaning you’ll be able to go home and whip up a batch of that Siberian pelmeni you had at dinner last night.
Why does such an endeavour matter now, we asked Dziamidva?
“Lately in Europe sentiments against foreigners are raising, and unfortunately it becomes more and more difficult to promote diversity. Working from 2012 in the field of foreigners’ integration, we have come to the conclusion that the best way to build relationships with migrants is by personal experience. People eat and like to try new things and we do believe that it can bring us together,” Dziamidva says.
The group hopes to expand beyond Prague; they will be organizing intercultural brunches and picnics throughout the summer to draw attention to their initiative.