When the Czechs have a barbeque they tend to do it over wood rather than charcoal. Why use charcoal when wood is so plentiful? And besides cooking over a campfire has a certain appeal. It takes me back to my time as a girl guide – there is nothing that quite beats hot chocolate cooked in a smoke-blackened pot over a real wood fire, nor sausages with that smoky flavour.
The Czechs, like their neighbours the Germans, are great ones for sausages of all sorts, shapes and sizes. But sausages cooked over burning wood are special and there is a special process to follow in cooking them. First you cut some long thin branches of hazel and sharpen the ends. These are what you will cook the sausages on. Then you take the sausage and cut each end twice to form a cross of cuts. Each visitor places their sausage on the stick and sits by the fire with the sausage in the heat. As the sausage cooks the cut ends curl back to form four arms (eight in all) like an octopus on a stick. This process ensures that the sausages are heated all the way through, although English visitors, much to Czech amusement, still manage to blacken the sausages.
The very act of cooking the sausages forms a bond with your fellow diners. There is an immediate topic of conversation – an experience shared if you like. When my sisters came to stay, they had a great time preparing and cooking their sausages – the process is as much part of the fun as the finished product. Finally to eat add Czech mustard (so lovely my son eats it alone on bread and I have to take several pots over when I fly back to England) or horseradish sauce, and a chunk of Czech bread. An additional treat is some dough wound round a stick and cooked over the fire to create a sort of bread. I remember this from my Girl Guide Handbook or something similar but until I arrived here had never tried it. I must say it's okay but not spectacular, but then I think I am missing the point, the process is the thing, not the eating. Finally wash it down with a load of Czech beer and a few songs sung by the fire under the star-laden heavens and you will have had the time of your life.