Being a Czech, the question of whether our food is good or bad never crossed my mind. Nonetheless, my addiction to Reddit and the chance to visit tens of countries across the globe and meet hundreds of people has led me to ponder this question repeatedly. Sometimes, I am puzzled as to why many people perceive Czech cuisine to be bad, if not worst in Europe, when in reality, it is both tasty and nutritious.
So, what’s the truth? Is Czech cuisine really that bad, heavy, and unhealthy?
Dumplings, bread, creams, and all things heavy
When you Google images of Czech cuisine, dumplings, heavy cream sauces, goulash, sausages, bacon, fried cheese with french fries, and other fatty foods pop up. While all of this is part of traditional Czech cuisine, it’s not something people eat every day.
In fact, when most Czechs go to a restaurant, they get a traditional dish, such as goulash, svíčková or vepřo knedlo zelo (roast pork with dumplings and cabbage) because that is something they only eat exceptionally or during a celebration.
Now, it’s true that Czech cuisine may not be as popular or well-known as some other European cuisines, but that doesn’t make it any less tasty or enjoyable. Czech food is hearty and filling and often features meat (and potatoes) as the main ingredient.
And while I can agree that some of the dishes may seem a bit heavy on the stomach, to me, that’s part of the charm, especially if you wash it down with a good Czech beer.
Czech food won’t make you fat
Although Czech dishes may be high in calories, carbs, and fat, it’s important to note that Czech food isn’t inherently unhealthy. It all comes down to portion control and balance. After all, it’s always about quantity, so if you were to have three dumplings with sauce or a Caesar salad with cheese and sauce, the dumplings would probably be the better choice, calorie-wise.
It’s also worth noting that many Czech dishes are made with fresh, wholesome ingredients like vegetables, meat, and grains. These are all important components of a healthy diet, so they may have more calories, but they are also rich in vitamins and minerals.
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Czechs eat fish, too
Just because the Czech Republic is located in the very center of Europe and does not have access to the sea does not mean that people do not eat fish. In fact, one of the most traditional Czech dishes is the freshwater fish carp.
Carp has been a traditional Christmas meal in the country for centuries, and it’s a beloved part of the Czech culinary culture. This interesting-tasting fish is typically served fried or roasted, and it’s often accompanied by potato salad or other traditional sides. The fish is usually prepared in a variety of ways, including marinating it in vinegar or beer to add flavor.
In some regions, it’s also common to smoke the fish, which gives it a unique smoky taste. Oh, and let’s not forget that Czechs are passionate fishermen, so when they eat carp, they usually catch it themselves or get it from a friend or neighbor.
Aside from carp, there are other fish dishes that are popular in the Czech Republic, including trout and pike. These fish are usually prepared in a similar way to carp, with various spices and herbs added to enhance their flavor. All fish have quite a few bones, so it’s no wonder that many Czechs end up in the hospital on Christmas Day with a bone stuck in their throat.
Czechs are known to be soup enthusiasts, and there are several reasons behind their love for this particular dish. First and foremost, soups are considered to be a healthy and nutritious meal option, which is why they are an integral part of the Czech diet.
Soups are often loaded with vegetables, legumes, and meat, making them a great source of vitamins, minerals, and protein. Apart from being healthy, soups are also popular among Czechs as a hangover remedy. In fact, many Czechs swear by the healing powers of soup when it comes to curing a hangover. After a night of drinking, a warm bowl of soup can help rehydrate the body and replenish lost nutrients.
In addition, our grandmothers always said that strong chicken broth is a better cure for colds than drugs from the pharmacy, which I have to agree with.
In my opinion, Czech cuisine is often criticized as being unhealthy and unappetizing, but I believe this is unfair. While certain dishes may be high in calories or fat, it ultimately comes down to the individual’s portion size and eating habits.