Food, you say? From all over the world, you say? In Brno? I’m there.
Hosted by Food Park Brno, Ochutnej Svět or Taste the World is a food fair this weekend at Malá Amerika by the main train station in Brno. There was actually so much variety and were actually so many people there – even a punk couple with a mohawk-sporting toddler – that for a second I forgot was in CZ and thought I might have teleported to Brooklyn.
For example, the wonderful-smelling cold brew and V60’d or Aeropressed coffee could help this assumption. To be drunk only with your pinky in the air, mind you.
But one assurance that I was not in Brooklyn was this:
Arizona Iced Tea for 50 crowns ($2)… Not only is it twice the price as in the States, but this is the least exotic drink you will ever have, after Canada Dry. The Dr. Pepper I understand – it’s probably our best soda. But I could not stop laughing at the way a sign advertising “American Drinks” got a steady stream of interested people. Guys, you’ve got Kofola. Don’t be jealous of us.
This wasn’t the only representation of English-speaking cultures. There was the classic British Fish & Chips as well as The Candy Store, a CZ chain which imports British and American specialty foods. I almost bought 200 Reese’s Pieces (the god of peanut butter + chocolate candy) but then I remembered I can eat all of the Reese’s in NYC in 2 months.
I also giggle at the obsession with fish and chips. When I tried it in the UK last year, my first reaction was “I like food and this is in fact food, and so it follows that I like this” followed closely by, “So what you’re telling me is that this is fish, and chips [french fries ;)], and that’s basically it?”
Our “national food” of hamburgers and hot dogs isn’t so special either, so I mean no offense. But the fish & chips with curry mayo Ondra and I had in Pilsen blew the bare bones of the London version I had out of the water.
Upon entering the fair, you were greeted with a selection of BUGS to try! Surprisingly popular considering that many were sold out when I arrived.
Some choices include “insect mix,” “scorpions with plum sauce,” and “insect lollipop.” Maaaaybe some other time.
My main meal at the food fair was the Spanish seafood paella chased down with a wonderful, mild 12-degree Pšeničné, or wheat, beer (with flavors of banana and cloves) from Líšenský Pivovar:
I retried calamari (squid) for the first time in years with mostly the same reaction (“no thank you”), but the clams and shrimps were wonderful in the paella.
Overall, I really have to say that they did a great job and had lots of diverse representation. Some other examples of stands:
They had hummus and baklava, mini tarts and mini bábovka, coffee-flavored mandlovice (an almond liquor) and Spanish olive oil with orange aroma. There were stands with Japanese, Indian, Thai, Ukrainian, Turkish, and Brazilian food as well.
You could enjoy your meal with a nice view of the train:
And from the other side, a lovely view of Brno’s landmark Peter and Paul Cathedral.
I was just so happy the sun came out for the first time this week so we could all enjoy it.
In the evening was the hody in Čebín, a village near Tišnov. I tried to bring my handgun – you know, we all get caught up in the excitement – but I was greeted with this at the door of the community center:
I have literally never seen this anywhere in CZ before and was shocked. Guns are much harder to get here than in the US, so fewer people have them, and I didn’t realize Čebínites might need to be told to leave it at home… 😛
Young people in traditional costume – boys in yellow pants, puffy white shirts and black vests, and girls in multi-colored striped shirts and similar white puffy shirts and embroidered black vests, some with flowers in their hair – showed off local-origin dances plus a more modern medley starting with “Can’t Stop the Feeling” later in the night.
We danced around the colorful mája in the middle of the dance floor, and I had some amazing goulash! 😀
This evening is a minor holiday called Čarodějnice, or “Witches,” during which witches (confusing) made out of straw will be burned in bonfires all over CZ to definitively kick out winter in favor of spring. Then fittingly, tomorrow is the first of May, a holiday of love, when lovers should kiss under cherry trees according to tradition.