Meat and Potatoes: Come Dine With Me, Czech Style

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Czech Come Dine with Me folk

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?

Shock horror! Czech model lady says no to dumplings!

21 Comments

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21 Responses to Meat and Potatoes: Come Dine With Me, Czech Style

  1. Frederick Ventilator Moleskin

    Re: The first photo. Is it Czech tradition to try and outstare the meal before you eat it…?

  2. girlinczechland

    I have no idea. However, it’s true that the Czech contestants generally seem to be having less of a good time than their British counterparts. That’s not to say that Czechs don’t know how to have fun, just that they’re less willing to perform for the cameras…

    GIC

  3. Gormie

    You need to read this: http://www.clipboard.cz/7bc
    It’s a bit of insight into the show, partly funny, partly scary.

    P.S. Please, do poke fun on our way of life! That’s the reason why I read your blog. 🙂

    • girlinczechland

      Thanks for posting this link Gormie. It looks really funny but I need to sit down with my dictionary and have a go at reading it properly… 🙂

      GIC

  4. Cow tongue is not good at all. You should try the smoked pig tongue first, that’s trully delicious. 🙂 I mean seriously.

  5. Jana

    I watch the show regularly and can’t help finding your account exaggerated and sensationalist. I remember the Argentinian menu. The guy cut huge steaks but then served just a tiny part of it. The meat pieces were not as big as your head but perhaps as your two fingers. Picture: http://www.iprima.cz/prostreno/recepty/entrccote-argentina-s-toskanskymi-brambory

    And do you really need carbon-offset oysters or caviar in order to cook a great dinner? Are there really no Czech meals (prepared from local food so you don’t have to offset anything in the first place) that you would consider sufficiently noble to please your palate?

    I am surely not one of those Czechs who shy away from vegetables. My husband and I eat 400-500 g per day each. So it’s not like I want to “defend my people” at any cost. Some people indeed have hideous eating habits as the show costs. But I also have much respect for the cuisine of my grandmothers – which is why I am writing this comment.

    By the way, you seem to be an environmentally aware person so you should perhaps rethink your attitude towards offal. What I find nice about how people traditionally cooked here 100 years ago is that they really utilized everything.

    Sorry if I what I wrote is a bit unfriendly. It’s been a hard day.

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Jana,

      It seems like either I’ve hit a very raw nerve or you really did have a bad day…

      I would have to agree my account is exaggerated: it’s a blog post, not a news article and as such is not trying to offer an impartial assessment of Czech life but my own very biased one 🙂

      I think you’re missing some of the irony I intended here – I don’t like oysters or caviar but include them as examples of the kind of posh food British contestants would try to impress their guests (and those watching) with. The Czech contestants, I notice, are generally less willing to play up to the camera than their British counterparts: a sign of how down to earth they are in comparison perhaps.

      I did make the point of saying near the end of my post that while I find the show fascinating and funny, I do think expats should be sensitive when poking fun at their host culture. Sorry if you think I haven’t managed that here.

      GIC

  6. Mike

    You don’t like cow’s tongue? It’s excellent as a sandwichh…really.

    For the most part I enjoy Czech food…some of it’s a bit heavy…probably too much fried food for a healthy diet…but still…Halusky…come on…awesome stuff.

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Mike,

      It was just the sight of it lying there in the pan boiling… I’m the kind of hypocritical carnivore who can’t stand offal. Don’t ask me why, it’s just something to do with the smell.

      Have tried Halusky once – quite tasty but wasn’t blown away. Svickova is ace on a cold winter’s day but my stomach can only handle that much stodge once in a proverbial blue moon…

      GIC

  7. Gormie

    “Halusky” is actually a Slovak food, not Czech.

  8. Hi,

    Regina here, for ExpatWomen.com.

    I would like to personally invite you to list your blog on our Expat Women Blog Directory (www.expatwomen.com/expatblog/) so that other women can read about and learn from your expat experiences.

    Many thanks in advance for your contribution and keep up your great blog!

    Regina

  9. Rest assured that a lot of Czechs I know, from my parents to online debaters, poke fun / express horror at Prostřeno hosts. Of course, it may partly a class thing as well.

    • girlinczechland

      I’m going off Prostreno a bit I have to say – the people on there seem very critical (not that they ever say anything bad in the UK version but they usually at least wait until they’re on their way home or the host is out of the room…). I’ve also noticed that Czech people play up less to the camera which makes it less entertaining but probably says more about your integrity 🙂

      GIC

    • girlinczechland

      Oh. My. God. Awful, just awful. I’ve stopped watching Prostreno! because it just became too depressing: the way the contestants moan about each other and always say they’re looking forward to some old fashioned Czech cooking – arrgh! I need to find a replacement programme to watch to practice my (rubbish) Czech. Any ideas people? A serial would be great – or perhaps they should just bring back Pet Proti Peti…

      GIC

  10. Pingback: A Tale of Two Canteens « GIRL IN CZECHLAND

  11. Pupa

    Btw they have to go to Lidl because its the sponsor of the show. But I think in most cases they just pretend to shop there ;))

  12. Honza

    I apologize we’re not as civilized as you. Go enjoy some haggis.

  13. safda

    Its a terrible show, even most of us czechs think so, so feel free to mock it openly

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