Tuesday, 31 January 2012

A Menu

Traditionally Czech restaurant food has been heavy on meats, and it still is, although there is now more choice for vegetarians. Czech restaurants often offer a selection of grilled meats cooked over a logfire on a griddle (as here), these are eaten with a choice of side vegetables. Others offer casserole-based dishes such as goulash or meat smes (a mixture of meats in a spicy saunce). Then there is the offering of various roasted meat in sauce such as the Czech classic svíčková (when cooked well one of my all time favourite meals anywhere in the world) which is roasted marinated beef in a spiced vegetable sauce with cream.

Sometimes the translated menu can bring some interesting images to the mind of the bewildered foreigner,  as here in this menu from a restaurant in Slavonice. But then one has to wonder how on earth one could translate English popular foods such as spotted dick or roly poly pudding. I shall say no more than that I had a chop of Mrs Katerina and it was excellent and my husband enjoyed Zacharias' chop.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

The Coasts of Bohemia

A few days ago as I was looking at the Google Analytics account to see what search terms people on the internet were putting into Google which led them to my site. It is a source of endless amusement and bemusement to me.

The first source of bemusement is just how many people still search for Czechoslovakia - even though the Czech Republic and Slovakia split happened in 1993 nearly twenty years ago.

The second is the number of ways people come up with of spelling Czech (bear in mind that this is an English language search), here are some from last month: Czek, Czexh, Tchech, Chez, Cheze, Chczh, Chek, Chec, Checkz, Cezk, Chec, Cezh, Check, Chech and of course Chekeslovakia and Checkislavkia.

The third are some searches which say something about perceptions and misunderstandings:
  • sex tour Czech Republic - I'm not going to comment on that one
  • is Czech Republic safe to visit? - answer: yes very
  • Hogwarts Castle in Czechoslovakia - I love this query, the country is full of wonderful magical medieval castles (NOTE to Author: possible line for a book)
  • beach holidays in the Czech Republic - despite Shakespeare talking about the coast of Bohemia* in the Winter's Tale the Czech Republic is right at the middle of the European landmass, the only beaches the Czechs have on lake and river banks and probably not what the searcher had in mind.

Alas, all these search terms show what a task I and other Czechophiles have to increase knowledge of this lovely country.

*watch out for a full blog on the coast of Bohemia/Winter's Tale which I planning to write soon.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Coals to Newcastle, Fezes to Turkey

In the museum housed in Strakonice Castle you will discover much of interest, but nothing is so extraordinary as the story of the Strakonice fez industry. How did this provincial town in South Bohemia come to be the centre of world fez production?

The story is that a Linz businessman came to the town and asked for someone to make fezes to sell in Turkey. That someone was a knitter called Jan Petras. Petras was so successful that other knitters soon followed and the Strakonice fez industry was born.

In the 1820's a Jewish entrepreneur called Furth established the company that was to take fez production in the town to a whole new level. With mechanisation the production grew and the company expanded selling fezes to Egypt, India and the middle east as well as to Turkey. By 1937 business employed 3000 people, sadly with the war the Germans took over the factory and then after the war the business was nationalised. Now the successor company no longer makes fezes but instead creates fabrics for car upholstery.

I was in an antikvariat the other day and found a selection of fez labels (see above) and there it is in French (so presumably it was destined for Morocco) - "Societe Anonyme des Fabriques de Bonnets Turcs. Strakonice, Republique Tchecoslovaque".


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