Is trdelník traditional? Tourists say: who cares?

Prague’s annual Christmas markets have taken over the city center, and with them, the stalls selling so-called “old Czech” trdelník. I spoke with some of the tourists enjoying this not-so-traditional treat.

Trdelník, photo: Barbora NěmcováTrdelník, photo: Barbora Němcová Where did you hear about this pastry?

“Woman 1: From the Internet.

“It's a traditional Praga dessert.”

“Woman 2: We were actually looking for churros, but we found this instead.”

Churros! You're going to have a hard time finding those in Prague.

“Woman 2: I know, we found them in one shop, and then we were like, 'Okay, let's have a go.' But it didn't work.”

But this is satisfying the craving?

Photo: Barbora NěmcováPhoto: Barbora Němcová “Woman 2: Yeah, it's really nice.”

Ubiquitous and fragrant in the streets of downtown Prague, trdlo has successfully positioned itself as a staple of Czech fare. But one young man who has been selling it for five years tells me that visitors to the Czech capital may be getting the short end of the stick.

“It's really popular because it's cheap to make, but it sells for a lot of money. So it's good business for people. In people's life, they've never seen something like this: ‘Oh, it's nice, it smells good!’”

And do they think it's traditional?

“It's traditional from Hungary. It's kürtőskalács, the name in Hungary, I think. And I have to say it's traditional from the Czech Republic, for the people, but it's from Hungary.”

I also noticed it got more expensive in the last couple of years.

“I remember 50 crowns, five years ago. After two or three, it's 60. And I think this Christmas maybe it's gonna be 10 crowns higher. I don't know, but I think so.”

For now, though, the price doesn’t appear to be slowing down sales. The trdlo may not be traditional, but amongst tourists, it’s hardly controversial.

Woman 3: “It's cinnamon, and sugar, and dough.”

What's not to like?

Woman 3: “What could be hard about that?”