Put a Little Prague in Your Mouth

I only ate two things in Prague. Repeatedly. I couldn’t help myself. I found these two things everywhere and they were delicious, so I ate them over and over.

Trdlo or Trdelnik

These stands were everywhere — at the base of the Charles Bridge. In Old Town Square. Along every street in the tourist area. You could smell them, and then you couldn’t resist them.

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Trdlo, or trdelnik, are sweet strips of dough wrapped around an iron rod. They are baked and then covered with cinnamon sugar. Vendors simply hand them over with a napkin (always red napkins when I bought them ??) and you can walk along pulling out sections of this delectable treat like a ribbon unraveling. They only cost about 2 Euros, so it got to be a habit.

 

Goulash or Gulas

When I was a kid, my friends’ parents made us Hungarian goulash at a dinner party. I hated it. Hated it, hated it, hated it. It had beef and spiral noodles, peppers, tomatoes and paprika. It was a hard lesson learned in being a polite dinner guest and eating what you’re served, but oh, I hated it.

This may make you wonder why I’d ever willingly order it myself. Well, my taste buds have changed and I like a lot of things I didn’t as a child, so while in Prague, I had to try this. It was advertised on every restaurant marquee as either Goulash in a bread bowl or with noodles.

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I ordered it without bread the first time. My server’s English was limited, so I just knew that I didn’t want the bread bowl. But when he brought it to my table, it seemed to be served with circles of bread on the side. I was glad. I sopped up all that gravy and wished I had more.

Czech goulash is nothing like the “Hungarian goulash” I had as a kid. What I had in Prague was more like a beef stew with either red or white onions chopped on top and “noodles” served on the side. The noodles were those round pieces that I’d mistaken for bread. It tasted like a potato bread dumpling to me, and the beef tasted like it had been stewed in wine. Delicious every time I got it, though I preferred the tanginess of the red onion on top vs. white.

Either way, I finished off each meal with a Trdlo. 🙂

What local dishes do you go to over and over when you travel?

27 responses to “Put a Little Prague in Your Mouth

  1. The goulash looks great! As a child we always got beetroot on Friday at lunchtimes 😦 Accordingly I’ve hated it until recently but now find that’s it’s a great addition to a smoothie 🙂

    • It’s so funny how our taste buds change. I hated beets as a kid, but now I love them. Same with goulash, and green peppers. And mushrooms. And brusselsprouts, etc. I’m starting to wonder what I did like as a child? Probably things I hate now. 🙂

  2. When I recently visited Wellington, New Zealand, I tried something at an international food market that looked exactly like the trdlo you’ve shown here, only they were called ‘chimney cakes’, which I thought was such a cute and evocative name! Apparently the chimney cakes were a traditional Hungarian treat, though it seems Hungarian and Czech food have many similarities.

  3. I remember struggling with the food in Prague, as goulash has never been my thing. I also don’t eat beef, so I stayed away from most of what I saw and lived on tomato mozzarella sandwiches. Boring, but true. 🙂

    • Interesting. I didn’t notice anything like that on the menu, but I think my eyes were immediately going to the word goulash. I almost ordered cabbage soup once, but we make that at home, so I skipped straight to the goulash again.

  4. These look like “napkin dumplings” to me, a variation of bread dumplings. Super easy to make, by the way: mix thin slices of dry bread, a bit of chopped parsley, a chopped onion, salt, pepper, warm milk and a couple of eggs to make a thick dough. Leave to stand for a bit, then form dumplings and boil at a low heat until they swim to the top.
    Goulash is only the Hungarian word for soup originally so there are many variations..
    If you ever go back to Eastern Europe, try all the sweet main courses too!

  5. I can’t seem to remember a single thing I ate when I visited Prague so likely I didn’t have any of what you had. What a missed opportunity! I don’t typically revisit foods even if I really liked them since it feels like a wasted chance to try something else but when I was still in London, I definitely filled up on scones. American scones just don’t do it for me.

  6. Oh those do look good! When in Holland I always eat Poffertjes, the little buttered pancakes they sell everywhere. They’re so good. Now I’m hungry.

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