- By Kevin
- On Dec 24, 2017
- Travel Tips
To explore the food & drink in Prague, Czech food is filling and hearty, and when it's done well is reminiscent of a good home-cooked meal. Not surprisingly, given the country's long period as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Czech cuisine borrows heavily from its neighbors.
The schnitzels, strudels, and goulashes you'll see on menus here have all been gently appropriated but often given a local twist. Czech goulash, for example, is milder than its Hungarian cousin and comes in a number of variations depending on whether the main ingredient is beef or pork. Schnitzels are typically built around fried chicken or pork instead of veal, normally the heart of a Viennese schnitzel.
If there's a uniquely Czech contribution in all of this, it's likely to be the bread or potato dumplings, knedliky, that accompany many main dishes. These are essentially big balls of dough prepared in boiling water that come sliced and (hopefully) steaming hot to your plate. They are great for soaking up the extra gravy or sauce from the goulash.
Typical Czech beer is not exactly the same as you're used to back home. Czech beer tends to be heavier and hoppier than standard American or English lagers, and even a bit zippier than German beers. There are also not as many varieties here. While Czechs do dabble occasionally in dark beer (tmavé pivo), stouts, and porters, the main diet invariably consists of the pale Pilsner-style beers known locally as "light" beer (svétlé pivo). That said, you won't find American-style "light," or low-calorie, beer. Instead, beer is sold according to degree (a technical term that refers to the amount of malt extract used in brewing). The two most common strengths are 10-degree (often confusingly written as 10% -- though it doesn't mean 10% alcohol content) and 12-degree. Ten-degree beers typically contain less alcohol (about 3.5% by volume as opposed to 4% for a standard 12-degree beer).