Christmas is coming, and if you are in the Czech Republic at that time you can look forward to a good portion of emotions and food. Historical sources state that the Christmas Eve dinner should have seven or nine courses, but don’t worry... Today, there is only soup and a main dish.
Fish soup is the foundationWhether you go to a restaurant or your friends invite you over for Christmas Eve dinner, fish soup is the first course to be served. It is (not only) a tradition of Czech Christmas cuisine and is made from carp heads and meat, root vegetables, water and spices. Before you sit down to eat, take care of all of the business: the locals believe that you should not leave the table until everybody has finished eating. Why? To keep the family together. And if you find a fish scale under your plate, it does not mean that the lady of the house is messy. It is another Czech custom, and if you keep the scale you will have money throughout the year.
Carp as the main courseA typical main course in the Czech Republic is fried carp with potato salad. This fish has had its place reserved on the Christmas table for several centuries. Fish is a Lenten fare, and as such the good Christians ate fish a lot. Carp used to be prepared in all kinds of ways – blue (boiled in reduced vinegar or white wine with root vegetables) or black (in sweet sauce with gingerbread and plum butter) – but fried carp is the most popular. And as a side dish, you will definitely be served some delicious Czech potato salad. It did not make it to the Czech cookbooks until 1924, but today it is hard to imagine Christmas dinner without the salad. And where can you enjoy some Christmas food in Prague? You can try the Chateau St. Havel restaurant in Krč, U Modré kachničky, which you will find in one of the narrow streets in Lesser Town, or the French Restaurant in Municipal House with an almost hundred-year-long tradition.
Add some sugar to your ChristmasIt would not be Christmas without the many different cookies baked through the Advent season. You can try some at the Christmas markets as well as cafés, sweetshops and bakeries. The most popular and most frequently baked cookies are vanilla crescents and Linz cookies, which you will definitely come across during the holidays in the Czech Republic. The plaited Christmas bread is a special bread that also belongs on the Christmas table. It is made from tasty yeasted dough with raisins and almonds. The Christmas bread is shaped as a swaddled baby Jesus and it is a symbol of new life and fertility. The bread is not only popular at Christmas, but it is often eaten with coffee, for breakfast or as a snack.
Recipe for vanilla crescents
- 280 g all-purpose flour
- 200 g butter
- 100 g confectioner’s sugar
- 120 g ground walnuts
- 1 pack of vanilla sugar and confectioner’s sugar for coating
2. Make a roll, about 2 cm thick, from the dough and cut it perpendicularly into regular pieces. Shape the crescents with your hand and place them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Bake in a 150°C pre-heated oven until pink, which takes 10 to 15 minutes. Coat the crescents in the confectioner’s sugar while warm.