The problem with typical Czech food is that it’s not very Czech. It’s heavily influenced by German and Austrian culinary roots. We need to travel back to at least mid 19th century to realise that the more affluent German and perhaps Czech families would have had a cook that went to learn how to prepare dishes in Vienna at the time of the Hapsburg empire.
Most of the less affluent families in the towns would have had a basic food menu and the rest of the Czech people were probably living in the many villages outside Prague.
So, if anything, typical Czech food should be based on how the farmers and villagers ate. Suffice to say that those kind of dishes are hardly going to make it to the top restaurants in Prague!
So, if by traditional Czech food you are happy to accept that it’s a fusion of German, Austrian, Slovak and Hungarian cuisine with 40 years of made up foods during the 1948-1989 Communist period then you are in the right place!
What to expect
Traditional Czech food is fairly heavy on meat, dumplings and sauces. You won’t find much in the way of fresh vegetables, everything is stewed and the main vegetables include potatoes, sauerkraut, onions or carrots. Yes, I did say potatoes!
Vepro Knedlo Zelo
Meat with tomato sauce & dumplings – Rajska Omacka s masem a knedliky
Meat with dill sauce and dumplings – Koprova Omacka s masem a knedliky
Potato Dumplings Stuffed with Smoked Meat & Sourcraut
Schnitzel – Chicken or Pork – Smazeny Rizek
Potato Salad – Bramborovy Salad
Fried Cheese – Smazeny Syr
Potato Soup – Kulajda
Bramboraky – Fried potato pancakes
Traditional Yeasted Cakes – Kolace
Traditional Yeasted Thin Cakes – Frgaly
Vdolky – Yeasted Pancakes often eaten for breakfast
Pernik – Tray Baked Gingerbread
Poppy seeds tray bake cake with lemon icing – Makovec
Rakvicka, Vetrnik, Puncovy Rez, Spicka,
Prague Cake – Prazsky Kolac
Traditional Christmas Cookies
Traditional Bread – Sumava or similar
Biscuits & Chocolate Bars
Gingerbreads – Pernicky (Plnene Pernicky)
Soya Stump – Sojovy Suk
Sausage in a roll – Parek v Rohliku
P.S. You might have noticed that I’ve not mentioned honey cake – medovnik or chimney cake (trdelnik). Neither are Czech or traditional to Czech Republic and especially the trdelnik was purely invented for tourists. Trdelnik is just a very thin layer of dried/baked bread dough with cinnamon topping and icecream or other toppings of your choice. If you want to try one, go ahead, but I think your money can be better spent elsewhere.
Medovnik, on the other hand is actually really lovely (make sure it’s the original honey & walnut medovnik) and you can buy it usually in coffee shops, cukrarna or even large supermarkets.
Medovnik is made out of thin layers of light sponge filled with honey, walnuts and cream. It’s not hugely sweet (which I think it’s a bonus) and fantastic with a coffee or tea. Again it was brought to the Czech Republic back at the end of 1990/2000 and the recipe is originally from Gruzia and the Armenian region.