Oh. My. God. This is brilliant. Worth moving to Prague for. Almost.
Some of you may remember that as part of my rather inconsistent efforts to master Czech I used to watch this. I switched on the TV at the appointed hour a few weeks back and lo and behold, what was I confronted with? Something strangly familiar and yet not, in the way that things in a foreign land often are. Then the penny dropped. Czech Family Fortunes has been dropped from the schedules and in its place we have Prostřeno, Czechland’s answer to that stalwart of British TV, Come Dine With Me.
For those of you unfamiliar with the programme’s format, it goes like this. Five strangers take it in turns to host a dinner party at their place and impress the other four with their culinary skills. At the end of each evening, they have to award points to their host. The person with the most points at the end of the week wins £1000 or in the case of the Czech version, 25,000kc.
The first episode I caught showed a modest middle-aged Czech lady from somewhere in Moravia shopping for items to impress her guests with. Did we see her pop out to her local Italian organic deli where every product had been carbon offset and ethically sourced? Oh no. We watched her pushing her trolley around Lidl.
Which items did she intend to wow her guests with? Caviar? Oysters? An olive or two perchance? Again, no. Brambory a maso – meat and potatoes. What else?
Even Czechman had to laugh. He doesn’t have to watch any of the episodes anymore though because one of my new favourite pastimes is regaling him with highlights from the show. Like the time one guy had an Argentian theme which was basically just an excuse to centre the menu around what most Czech people love: huge slabs of meat. The main course consisted of the thickest beef steaks I’ve ever seen accompanied by a tiny portion of vegetables. A sure fire winner you would have thought. Except that, much to my disbelief, most of the contestants complained about the portions being *too small*.
“But they were as big as my head!” I squeal.
“Hmm,” replies Czechman.
Last week there was Celebrity Prostřeno. There was a model lady with long blond hair. One man cooked cow tongue and dumplings. Model lady refused to eat the dumplings as they might make her waist expand. Just watching the cow tongue being boiled made me consider vegetarianism.
The thing is though, Prostřeno is only funny because it’s Czech.
Which is fine. Up to a point. But there’s a fine line between gentle teasing and disrespectful mockery. Perhaps its best not to poke fun at your host country’s way of life too much. It’s different, that’s all. Isn’t that why we expat types came here in the first place?