...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Friday, May 08, 2009

And I discovered that I liked liver

Back to the topic of Prague, I'm posting something about food and drink from our vacation there. I also changed and added some pictures in the previous post to more "touristy ones" because I needed that photo of the pastry here to explain what it was we ate there, and because I also wanted to show more pictures of the city.

"Eat lots of meat" is one advice I got before going to Prague.
Another one is "drink lots of beer".

Prague is without a doubt a beautiful city. It's not just the architecture – it's the city's situation along the river, its hilly terrain, and its huge lovely parks which you can just walk in for hours. As I said, I could go there again just to see these beautiful things. But there are two other things I like about Prague "the city", and those are: its public transportation system, and the inexpensive food and drink.

I want to talk about the transportation system a while. I'm convinced that Prague is the best city to commute in, and the tram and metro systems are fast, clean and cheap – a really efficient way of traveling! I began to realize why the Czechs won the bid to provide trains for Metro Manila's MRT Line 1. Japan isn't the only country with effective rail systems, apparently. If I were benevolent dictator of the Philippines, we would have a transport system just like Prague's and I would convert all the jeepney drivers to tram conductors. There would be less traffic, less emissions, and less excuses to be late in meetings. We also soon find out the extra advantage of public transportation for Prague residents when we got a glimpse of their eating and drinking habits.

Or, you soon realize that public transportation is important when you see how often Czechs might get a beer. Beer is dirt cheap. Since living in Sweden, I had learned to expect that a glass of beer at a restaurant would cost something like 50 Swedish kronor – in today's conversion rate, 302 Philippine pesos, or 6.4 US dollars. Not so in Prague. Between bottled water and beer, beer is often a cheaper alternative, and between cola, juice or beer, there just isn't any contest. When converted, the value of a glass of beer in Prague is at 5 Swedish kronor. I can't even think of anything that costs 5 kronor in Sweden – that's to illustrate how affordable beer is. No wonder friends report walking around Prague more or less constantly "beered".

After work, the park benches fill with Prague residents talking, working on their laptops, reading homework – and all are drinking beer.

And that's why Czechs use public transportation, because to drive in Prague, you need to have 0.00% blood alcohol content. That's worse than in safety-conscious Sweden, but on the other hand, there's more risk of actually being drunk before you know it when beer pours like tap water. Besides, after a big lunch of fatty food and a tall glass of beer, you'd probably want to doze in the metro instead of driving anyway.

To food then. Compared to Swedish prices, food prices are low and food is generally very good – if you're a carnivore. I understand that vegetarian restaurants are getting popular in Prague (we almost stepped into one before we realized what it was). Who knows, maybe after 364 days of eating meat, you probably crave for some veggies!

Seriously, the only complaint about Czech food I have is the constipation that resulted from a lack of greens and fiber (oversharing!). Aside from a Ceasar's salad and a chicken soup, I don't really remember eating something non-meat. Don't take me wrong – the meats were all good! The ribs fell off the bone and came with three different kinds of dip. We tried a variety of sausages. I ordered goulash soup, schnitzel, and – when we decided to try a "today's special" in a menu that was only written in Czech, we found out that the dish consisted of a pork chop and a piece of liver in a dark sauce with mashed liver and herbs. The verdict? They know their liver. I never really liked liver until I tasted that dish, even if the last portions tasted really, uh, livery.

The dish that made me appreciate liver:
Sliced knödel, pork chops and chicken liver with liver sauce.

That dish – combined with the beer – really knocked me out after lunch. It didn't help that the sliced knödel were all deep fried in garlic oil. Delicious and rich. It was cheap too. But oh, if I lived there I'd probably have to eat other cuisine more.

Aside from food and beer, sidewalk pastry (actually bought in the metro stations) were one of the things we usually bought while exploring the city. A franchise called Princess sells sweet and savory filled pastry by weight, and they're not very expensive either. We buy the pastry, walk to a park and eat them there.

Our "couple picture" shows us with mini turkey-and-spinach snacks. Yum!

With the view below you, the snacks could have come from a fancy bakeshop, but actually, the place you buy them from is no bigger than a usual stall and you have to point to order since the vendors know limited English (though the snacks have English labels besides the Czech). The cherry snack and the spinach and cheese snack are recommendable, as is the choco-vanilla. Obviously, we tried a lot of these mini pastries. Gobble, gobble, gobble!

Two different days, two kinds of rugelach: one chocolate- and one nut-filled.

For a trip full of food and drink, you don't have to wonder much what we took with us back to Sweden: a liter of traditional plum brandy from the duty free shop, and two whole kilos of various flavors of dried sausages!

By the way – my sister Lea is visiting me next week for some days. Don't wonder if there are sausages in the menu, Lei.

See Tags: Food


Blogger aka Cheryl said...

kainggit!! di ba sobrang busog ang feeling ng puro meat ang kainin? anyway, exag ang alcohol content to be able to drive -- may 2 decimal points pa, hehehe. kawawa naman ang public transportation drivers, forced sila to drink expensive water (o kaya magbaon ng tubig parati). no beer for them!

btw, cute couple pic! hahaha

8:13 AM


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