Czech mums are Supermums: another weekend with The Village People

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Meet Babovka, a traditional Czech sponge cake

In Czechland, doctors often send their patients to a spa to recuperate. I opted to go to stay with the Village People (aka Czechman’s parents) instead. Why? Because I knew I would get plenty of sympathy after my recent adventures in hospital, especially from Czechman’s mum.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Czech mothers all seem to possess a surplus of caring genes. Either that or they all attend some special training camp where they learn all the skills necessary to be supermums.

Highlights of the weekend included:

–  learning how to make babovka (a traditional Czech sponge cake) with Czechman’s mum. The results were excellent but the real test is whether I can manage to make it as well without expert supervision

–  an 80’s fashion show starring Czechman and his collection of ancient tepláky (jogging bottoms) as he decided what from his teenage wardrobe should finally be thrown away

– hunting through Czechman mum’s collection of vintage knitting and crochet patterns: fascinating stuff for a craftaholic like me

– admiring Czechman’s dad at work in his království (kingdom) – the workshop at the bottom of grandma’s garden – where he has transformed the bits of wooden worktop into leaf-shaped chopping boards, including a minature one for Czechman’s niece – šikovny!

– daily trips to the grandmas to discuss important topics like the latest episode of Prostřeno! and how well the hens are laying: very well indeed as we now have thirty organic eggs in our fridge. Better get started on that babovka…

I may be wrong, but my impression is family is more important here in the Czech Republic than in England. In my early days in Czechland I’d grumble a bit about how often we are expected to put in an appearance at Czechman’s parents (once a month minimum) and the fact that my presence is required too (but they’re your parents) but now that I finally understand most of what’s going on, I really look forward to it.

You see, Czechland is home now and it’s starting to feel like his family are my family too.

“You seem really comfy here,” Czechman observed this weekend. And I am.

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12 Comments

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12 Responses to Czech mums are Supermums: another weekend with The Village People

  1. Hi GIC,
    Despite a fairly high divorce rate, family is more important here in the Czech Republic than in England, or the USA for that matter. And the strong expectation that at least once a month, you go to visit the parents/grandparents in the family home in the Bohemian countryside, or attend the family gathering in the chalupa or chata, is an important aspect of Czech culture.

    This can be a real problem for English-speaker/Czech cross cultural relationships, especially if like yours with Czechman, it began when the Czech speaker was living in the English-speaker’s native country. Often the Czech partner/wife/husband is then the only one who speaks English & so s/he spends the whole weekend translating, or the native English-speaker is left feeling totally isolated.

    As I’ve commented here previously, I have dealings with numerous couples in cross cultural relationships. Only last Saturday, I conducted the wedding of Czech bridegroom to American bride. So I am very aware of these issues.

    As you have done, if you want your relationship to work, you need to learn not to grumble and instead accept that this is what happens and learn to enjoy the experience. And, as you are doing & last Saturday’s American bride has already done, learn to speak Czech so you can communicate with the older generations of your Czech partner/wife/husband’s family.

  2. Michael

    GCL,

    Enjoy the coffee…

  3. Mike in Bohemia

    My Czech mother-in-law is amazing. She is always making us potato dumplings, tasty soups, and apple strudel.
    All without chemicals, and soooooo tasty.
    By the way, every time you refer to the village people, the YMCA song starts in my head :-))))
    Mike

    • girlinczechland

      Ah, that YMCA is a catchy tune. Are you spelling out the letters with your arms too? Don’t be shy – put your hands in the air!
      GIC

  4. Sarka

    Will you do the bábovka with butter or with oil? 🙂

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Sarka,
      Well, I didn’t realise I had a choice! Czechman’s mum used butter and margarine (because she didn’t have quite enough butter I think). What do you recommend?
      GIC

      • Sarka

        So far, I’ve made bábovka only for about 5 times. Once with butter. It was much more demanding (well, probably beacuse I didn’t have any blender around at that time) and the cake came out somehow shrinked. So I prefer the version with oil.

        But I think that with butter it could be more filling and more … hm solid (“pořádné”)

  5. Sarka

    You can also add pieces of dark chocolate or chocolate for cooking (čokolády na vaření) to make it more sophisticated (“vymazlené” :-D) or milled nuts.

    • girlinczechland

      Thanks for the tips Sarka. I think I’m going to invest in an electric mixer so my arms don’t get too tired – or just get Czechman to do the whisking as his Mum suggested!
      GIC

  6. Pavel

    I know this article is older, but as clever as I am, I must enlight you a bit:
    border between Bohemia and Moravia is also secret border between west and east, in culture meaning. East of Českomoravská vrchovina is patriarchat and men rules and mums are supermums. As moravian I can say I was a little bit scared of emancipated czech woman when I moved only 150 km to the west.
    As spoiled young boy mannered by serving grandma and my mum and admiring young sister, I was ungraciously surprised.

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