© 2013 Kevin Longa Sirloin of Beef and Dumplings (Svi?ková na smetan?)

#FoodFriday: Beer & Gravy, Czech Republic Knows Its Liquids

The food: Beef Sirloin with Bread Dumplings (Svicková na smetane houskové knedlíky)

Where to find it: Prague, Czech Republic

Note: Longa Travels Productions is now filming its food & travel TV show in Spain & Portugal.


Last week I claimed Slovakia’s hearty, sheep cheese dumplings could kick Kraft Easy Macaroni & Cheese’s ass. That still holds true, but this Czech Republic dish could be the other bully on campus—a bully that preys on the weak and inebriated of Prague.


When in Prague, most dishes compliment their main dish: beer. Lager to be exact. Last night when I ambled through Porto, Portugal’s nightlife, I noticed a harried Hagrid-like man wearing a shirt reading: “Prague: so many pubs, so little time.” They love their lager. So, back when I traveled Prague, I had to try the local fare at a central pub. But being an Asian lightweight, after a tall foamy glass I became red in the face and stumbled into the restaurant next door to soak up the suds.


The Czech chef saw my rosy expression and immediately knew the culinary cure. On a plastic plate he dumped a couple cuts of beef, a thick slather of gravy, and four dumplings that puffed like a poked Pillsbury Doughboy. In order to contrast the hospital cafeteria presentation, the chef piped a cone of cream and cranberry sauce atop the meat. He frisbeed the plate onto my table and I retrieved it like a starving dog.


The Czechs must have a knack for liquids; their beer can start revolutions and the gravy marinates into everything on the plate. Once sliced, the beef bursts like molten meat, and the sauce seeps and creeps up the dumpling as each second passes. Eat the dumplings quick or else you’ll get soppy bunches of mush. However, even if you do get soggy dumplings, then that shouldn’t be a problem. In the eyes of any proper Praguian, that wet dumpling has just metamorphosed into something transcendent, into breaded liquid—in other words: beer.

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