It was quite the week – I visited the Jeden svět film festival (which promotes education about world issues facing humanity through documentary films in local cinemas for students and adults), I hung out in Brno, I saw a Ha-kapela concert, and I tried a new food that I’m sure the me from two years ago would have never believed for a moment I would. (Well, she wouldn’t believe I’d eat tatarák either, but I did…)
Bar, který neexistuje
I’ve been meaning to visit this place for a long time, especially after my boyfriend Ondra brought me to the new, related, and highly-rated Super Panda Circus for my birthday. Its ironic name always makes me laugh when I pass its sign in Brno.
When you look in, it appears super classy, and I have never been properly dressed while just passing through Brno to brave going inside – either I have an ugly backpack or a gigantic handbag which is invariably filled with groceries and student papers and look totally disheveled from a long day. It’s an oldies cocktail bar with a long tailored list of rums, and its doorman greets you in a suit while you admire the chandeliers and shelves of multicolored bottles behind the bar, giving the impression you’ve entered another world of people who hold up their pinkies while they drink.
Here’s my terrible photo of it:
To the left of the photo is a gigantic stuffed panda wearing a Superman shirt (nice subliminal messaging for its sister bar). A glass elevator to the right of the photo, which carries people up and down the bar’s three floors, adds to the ambience of prosperity and sophistication. I kept thinking to myself that I should be wearing a flapper dress and sporting a cigarette holder.
Here’s a much better one, courtesy of Podnikatel.cz:
My friend Kristýna and I had caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail. It was fun!
Cow heart with rice
Most days, it’s easy to think Czechia is a normal country that, based on the everyday lives of its inhabitants, is not so terribly different from where I grew up: You can buy anything you want in the shops, people walk their dogs, and teenagers are addicted to their phones.
But (and it’s a big but). They do regularly eat some meat that you would never find in an American supermarket.
I drew a comic earlier this year about the uncomfortable effect this had on my delicate American self.
Some of the meats featured there are pork tongue, head cheese, chicken liver, pork kidneys, pork brains, and cow heart.
A lot of Czechs are fisherman and hunters and generally are much closer to their food than my squeamish countrymen (not to say there aren’t also hunters in, for example, upstate New York!). I’m sure many Americans could never imagine killing the animal they would later eat, and I’m starting to understand more and more how little sense that makes. What does make sense is using all the parts of the animal you kill, and that includes the “icky” internal organs. (Disclaimer: I have tried to like liver many times. It has never worked.)
Once I was talking to Ondra’s grandmother about this (for example, I had never tried rabbit until she made it), and she mentioned that cow heart is vynikající (one of the stronger Czech adjectives for talking about food, meaning delicious, excellent, or even exquisite). So I asked if I could try it. I finally got the chance!
I have to say, I expected to like it a bit more than I did. The texture is definitely denser but that part I actually liked. Despite the fact that it was covered in sauce, there was a persistent smell from the meat that bothered me. After I increased the rice ratio, I managed to eat it all 🙂
Next up: pig brains!
In other news…
Ha-kapela, the band of local Tišnov fame in which Ondra plays saxophone, had a wonderful April 1st concert. Here are some photos of the group via the Ha-kapela Facebook page – the one on the right is from last night:
The spring flowers are blossoming. My favorite is magnolia and from what I can see, they’ll be bursting this week or next at the latest. So excited to walk under those creamy white and pink petals!
Two classic Czech flowers which are now having their spring Renaissance are bledule (snowflakes) and sněženky (snowdrops).
I just learned this week that some people go on a walk close to nearby villages Chebské and Nedvědice in order to see the bledule growing natural and rampant in large patches (I swear, we have everything that the tulip exhibition in Amsterdam does, just fewer tourists!). Unfortunately, I missed them in their prime, but there’s always next year!
So, I didn’t get to see the bledule, but at least I bought jellybeans 🙂
Those babies are really gonna help me with the stress of grading. 🙂
Have a good week!
[…] These are called “little roosters” (kohoutek). Actually a pretty clever connection. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again… people here are way closer to nature (and to typical farm animals). […]