Monthly Archives: April 2012

Made in Czechoslovakia: The Village People visit Prague

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Czechman's dad is the one in the middle.

The Village People came to Prague last weekend.  They have only been to Czechland’s capital a handful of times in their lives so it’s always a bit of an event. You can tell it’s a big deal because it’s the only time I’ve ever seen Czechman’s mum wearing eyeshadow.

It’s thanks to the Village People that at 9am on a Saturday found myself anxiously scrubbing my fridge just in case its level of cleanliness didn’t come up to Czech Mum Standards.

The fridge did receive covert inspection later so it’s a good job I did wipe out all the crumbs and give the salad drawer a rinse.

The Village People arrived bright and early (but after I’d finished the fridge fortunately) and of course, they came loaded down with supplies. Here’s a list of what they managed to transport with them on the bus:

  • One large box of homemade cake containing approximately twenty portions
  • Thirty eggs – no need for us to make the trip over the border to Germany to stock up
  • Four sachet of instant coffee (in our house, tea rules – see below)
  • One canister of squirty cream to accompany the cake at afternoon svačina time
  • Birthday and name day gifts for Czechman and myself – all practical of course, including an egg white separator and  a collection of assorted spatulas
The highlight of the visit was lunch. I showed off my culinary skills and my new fancy kitchen appliance – a slow cooker – by preparing lamb stew with mashed potato complete with real English gravy.
Czechman’s mum sounded skeptical when I told her I’d bought a slow cooker.  Surely you want to cook things more quickly not slowly? Isn’t that why they invented microwaves? And is it really safe to leave it switched on all day while you go out to work?
The main advantage of a slow cooker is that it can make any tough old bit of meat mouthwateringly tender. And when you don’t really understand which bit of prepackaged pig or cow it is you’re throwing in your basket at the supermarket because you’re in a foreign land, it’s essential.
The lamb stew was a hit.  The Village People didn’t really embrace the gravy though. Instead of pouring copious quantities to their mashed potato they suspiciously applied a miniscule amount with a teaspoon.  I thought Czech cuisine was all about drowning things in unctuous sauces?

Czechman’s mum essentially invited herself as she was keen to see how the renovations are coming along in our flat. We now have new lights in the kitchen, hall and toilet (yes, I gave that a good scrub too) which both Czechman and his parents are very excited about.

When it comes to interior design, Czechman and I have different views. Czechman likes modern. I do too but I prefer to spice up contemporary with a little retro to stop our home becoming some soulless Ikea showroom.  On my recent visit to England, instead of splashing out on countless new clothes as usual, I combed the bric-a-brac sections of charity shops and filled up my hand luggage with my booty. Amongst my finds were a selection of mugs celebrating Charles and Diana’s wedding and the Silver Jubilee. At a mere 50p (15kč) each, how could I resist?

The mug in the centre is my personal favourite though.

That slogan is my new mantra.

Czechman wasn’t happy about my purchases in England. “But we already have mugs,” he wailed while I unpacked. “And anyway, you don’t even like the Royal Family.”

However, this low-key moaning was nothing compared to his reaction when I pulled out this set of charming side plates, again purchased for a mere 50p each:

Ježíš Maria! Why have you bought these? They are exactly like the ones my Grandma has!”
“But look on the back here,” I reply. “It says they were made in Czechoslovakia. I’ve done a good deed. I’ve brought them back to their homeland.”

“Don’t you think there’s a reason we sent them out of the country in the first place?” Czechman responds.

Retro, kitsch, vintage, shabby chic – call it what you will but it’s all the rage back in England at the moment in the world of homeware. Czechman cannot embrace this style concept. He claims that just as Picasso had his blue period, I’m having my Grandma period – and that I’ll get over it soon.

We’ll see.




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The Sacrifical Lamb of Cake: my (failed) mission to bring Czech Easter traditions to England

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Here it is. My latest attempt to introduce Czech culture to England.  This is meant to be a beranek, a cake in the shape of a spring lamb, traditionally eaten at Easter.

As you can see from the picture, things didn’t exactly go according to plan. The sacrificial lamb of cake was rather too attached to its mould (literally) and didn’t want to come out in one piece. Never mind.

It still tasted good.


Worryingly though my four year old nephew insisted on eating the almost lamb’s nose first leaving the poor creature looking even more deformed. If that’s possible.

I had wanted to bring him a pomlazka but this was vetoed by my concerned sister, who didn’t want her son to think it was okay to hit girls on the bottom with a big stick, whatever the time of year.

Just in case any non-Czech readers think I’m making this stuff up, here’s some photographic evidence (stolen from another blog) of Czech menfolk keeping their nation’s Easter traditions alive:


Who said the Czechs were more sexist? 

Hmm, I sense I could have the title of a future blog post there…





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