Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Eating Internationally

Dear Em,
I'm a pretty adventurous eater- at least I think I am. So, I was never really worried about finding good food to eat internationally until I traveled to Ireland before you were born. Daddy blames it on my pregnancy & morning sickness (I was 8-10 weeks pregnant while we were there). I still say the food was awful. I'm pretty sure cheddar cheese was the main & only seasoning that they used in the food. At one point we ordered lasagna. There was a noodle on top, a noodle on the bottom, a huge chunk of meat in the middle, & a huge hunk of melted cheese on top. I pretty much lived on oatmeal & soft serve ice cream.

Needless to say, I was a little nervous about what I would find food-wise in Prague. I had looked at some menus which included things like liver & goulash (I didn't even know what that was). I was prepared to at least try everything, but I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. I was pleasantly surprised once I got to Prague (& on the flight to & from Prague- flying business class internationally is the way to go). The food was delightful- & very filling. I think I gained ten pounds in the short time I was there.

There were a few surprises:
1) There are KFCs everywhere. We saw a couple McDonalds, but the KFCs stood on every other block (we avoided them until one late night when everything else was closed). Do Czech people really love their Kentucky Fried Chicken (can we even call it chicken anymore)?
2) The timing of how you are served your food in a restaurant is different. Salad, soups, & appetizers are brought out with your meal instead of before your meal. Food is also brought out as it is ready for each person rather than all at once for the whole table.
3) There were warm wine vendors throughout the streets (did you hear that USA? Warm wine!).
4) There was such a variety of international cuisine. So much so that restaurants with menus that had traditional Czech food boasted of it with signage (I don't think I've ever seen signage on a restaurant in the USA letting everyone know that there is traditional American food).
5) I've heard that you don't need to tip in Europe. In Prague 10% is standard, although no tip is needed if you're sitting at a bar & the bartender serves you a drink.
6) While Prague is legendary for it's beer, most places only have a few options to choose from. Everyone talks about how awful American beer is, although I think most people are referring to Bud-Miller-Coors light (don't expect to find any in most Prague bars & restaurants).

One of the first nights, I ordered the goulash & dumplings. I wanted the full Prague experience. It was a flavorful meat stew with potato filled dumplings. I was in heaven. Your daddy & I also really enjoyed the street food. There were yummy food vendors all over the Old Town Square. I loved watching the cooking churros. I ate the biggest ham & cheese crepe of my life. It hit the spot. It was so good that the next day we returned to the same vendor to get a nutella & banana one for dessert (& some warm wine).

We never did get a chance to go to the the restaurant where they develop a unique menu based upon your preferences. We tried the last night, but it was closed. We did take the opportunity to go to one of the restaurants from the book Where Chefs Eat for breakfast one morning. The place was called
Cukrk√°valimon√°da which means "sugar, coffee, lemonade." 
It was a quaint little pace, & the menu was huge. We both noticed sweet & salty pancakes on the menu. We weren't sure what salty pancakes were, but we were excited to check it out. The salty pancakes were thin like a crepe. Mine was topped with spinach, bacon, sun dried tomatoes, & garlic. It was divine- the perfect way to start off our day. I could eat breakfast there every day, especially because we sat at the counter stocked with sweet desserts. We couldn't help but get a couple to end our meal (breakfast food & desserts- you would have been in heaven).

All in all, I would for sure return to Prague for the food alone. In the meantime, I'll be looking for some restaurants in the USA with signage that boasts of traditional Czech cuisine.

I love you so,

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