July 19, 2006

Vacation Food: The Good, The Bad and The Godawful

Prague, Czech Republic

Before we left, I knew from my minimal amount of research that Prague is not a vegetarian-friendly city. I was expecting that the partner and I would live off of french fries for the week and never see a green vegetable. This was only partially true. Yes, fried cheese was an vegetarian option almost everywhere we went, thankfully this was not the only option. We could also choose from woefully overcooked pasta with frozen veggie mix tossed with condensed cream of mushroom soup, the ever popular garlic soup, which was delicious but also probably made with chicken stock but I chose to ignore it, and lots of fried fish. Far, far, far too much fried fish. I thought that maybe it was just the vegetarian food that wasn't up to snuff, but the partner's mum and dad weren't too fond of Praha cuisine either.

There were some bright spots. At the hotel we were in they served breakfast which was mostly the same every day. I really liked the pumpernickel bread and the sliced tomatoes and cucumbers that were laid out. I never thought of having vegetables like that for breakfast before, but now I'll have to remember it for later.

Of course on the very first day, I found out about the two open air markets near Old Town. The first was behind a Tesco (European version of K-Mart) and while it wasn't a farmers' market, I did get to sample my very first red currants. Oooh, tart! One of the professors in K's (partner's mom) program brought his whole family along and his adorable, precocious daughter popped the currants like candy. Just thinking about that makes my mouth pucker. The next market was much larger. Half of it was green grocers and the other half was tourist crap. We bought a bunch of radishes and a bag of cherries for our mid-morning snack. M, partner's dad, was horrified at our willy-nilly radish eating, but they tasted good and fresh.

In the frou-frou shopping district we went to fanciest ice cream parlor I will ever go to. There were chandeliers, mirrored walls and red marble at every turn. It was incredible. And they had the delicious gelato too. Our first time there, I foolishly ordered sorbettos, and when we all shared tastes I deeply coveted K's walnut gelato. Longing to taste it again, we came back the next day and not only did they not have it, the staff were incredibly rude. *Sigh* Now I will just have that memory of a mere spoonful to last me the rest of my days.

My favorite restaurant in Prague was right by the entrance for the Praha Hrad. I think it was called the Flying Pig. They had red geraniums in all the windows and the interior was rustic but polished at the same time. Our first trip there, I ordered the fettucine in truffle cream sauce. Holy cow, this was good. Either they put real pieces of truffles in it, or it was perfumed heavily with them and had huge pieces of porcini too. I was so entranced that I didn't want to talk while eating, nor did I want to participate in the conversation about how men and women are treated equally in the arts and the workplace (They're not treated equally, if people are not given the same opportunities to succeed.). For our second trip there, the partner and I went tomato crazy and had bowls of gazpacho and salata caprese for lunch. Both were fantastic.

This is getting long, so I'll get to Cesky Krumlov and Vienna later.

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