When one thinks of the European capitals of cuisine, Prague is probably not a city that comes to mind. While the Czechs may not have the same reputation for delicious food as, say, the French or the Italians, that doesn't mean there is a shortage of delicious Czech dishes. Here are just a few of the fantastic foods that abound in Prague.
Waltz into a Czech bakery and you'll be greeted by a scrumptious array of pastries and sweets. While there are plenty of goodies to choose from in a variety of flavors, my personal favorite sweet is the brambora. Brambora means "potato" in Czech, but the only thing this pastry has in common with the tuberous crop is its small, round shape. It's a tort-like, chocolate- and vanilla-flavored cake draped in marzipan and often dusted with cocoa powder. It's fantastically sweet — but if you aren't in the mood for quite that much sugar, some bakeries sell miniature versions that are perfect when you just want one or two bites of deliciousness.
Although I always get a brambora when I stop by my favorite local bakery in the afternoon, it's a little too sweet for breakfast. I therefore usually choose from one of several different types of kolaches when I want a pastry in the morning. A kolache is a flat, round pastry with either a sweet or savory filling; its flavors can range from prune to cinnamon to poppy seed. Fun fact: In the EU's 2006 cultural presentation Sweet Europe, in which each EU member country chose a pastry to represent them, the kolache was chosen to represent the Czech Republic.
While goulash is originally a Hungarian dish, it's also popular in Austria, Serbia, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, amongst other countries. Each country has slightly re-imagined the stew to fit their own cuisine, though. In the Czech Republic, goulash is a thick, not-too-spicy stew served with beef and bread dumplings. It's comfort food at its best: filling, warm, and satisfying. Be careful not to order it too often, though — it'll quickly add inches to your waistline.
When you've had a late night out in Prague, nothing is quite as satisfying as a fried cheese. The sandwich is exactly what it sounds like: a large block of eidam cheese, deep-fried and served in a hamburger bun and sometimes accompanied with onions, mayonnaise, cabbage, or ketchup. The best place to get a fried cheese is Wenceslas Square — the square is dotted with sausage stands, all of which are open 24 hours a day and all of which sell fried cheese sandwiches for the equivalent of about $2 or less. I've taken many a late-night trek over to Wenceslas Square with a friend to indulge in this hopelessly fatty, wonderfully delicious snack. No trip to Prague would be complete without trying it.