From the smokehouse

03-09-2005

Welcome to the ABC of Czech, our special language course, in which we look at words connected with Czech food and cuisine. Today we'll take a look at smoked or cured foods - uzeniny.

Did you know that Czechs are the second in Europe in the consumption of smoked products - that's after the Hungarians and followed by the Slovaks and Croats.

Smoked foods are so popular in the Czech Republic that many people have their own little smokehouse - or udírna - in the garden.

Let's start with sausages. Typical Czech sausages - klobásy - are smoked and many types don't have to be cooked before eating - they are a bit like salami but thinner and shorter. Some are meant for grilling - you can try them at one of the stalls on Prague's Wenceslas Square where they are served with mustard on a paper plate with fat still oozing out of them. Soft sausages like vuřt or špekáček are shorter, thicker and pink in colour. In the summer people like to fry them on a stick over a fire. Children just adore them and at summer camps, this is their favourite meal.

Czechs distinguish between so-called suchý, literally "dry" salami, and měkký salám - "soft" salami. The latter one goes bad quickly whereas the former keeps for months. The most popular type is probably uherský salám - Hungarian salami.

Then there is ham or gammon - both are called šunka. One type of ham is internationally known as Prague Ham - pražská šunka. It is brine cured, fully cooked and smoked, boneless ham. The other type is šunka od kosti - "ham from the bone", a traditional delicacy which used to be difficult to buy in the communist days.

Smoked meat as such is uzené maso, one favourite type being uzené koleno - smoked joint - a typical beer pub dish. So are roasted smoked ribs - uzená žebírka, delicious with mustard and ground horseradish.

ŠunkoflekyŠunkofleky And we must not forget bacon - slanina - from the word slaný or salty, and špek - the less refined variety, used mainly to add taste to other meals.

Smoked meat is also the primary ingredient of a traditional Czech meal called šunkofleky. It is made of cubed smoked meet, cooked pasta and eggs and it's all baked in an oven.

Apart from smoked meat or fish you can often come across smoked cheese uzený sýr - also very popular on Czech tables.

And that's about it for today. Thanks for listening and till next time - dobrou chuť - bon appetit!

03-09-2005