Deer Meat and Rabbit and Swamp Soup – Oh My!

28 Mar

Now a note on some recent culinary experiences.

traditional Czech sandwiches

A little over a week ago Jess and I went to our friend Renata’s birthday party. It was a nice gathering at their house with tons and tons and tons of food. Growing up in an Italian family I am accustomed to parties with a plethora of food and this Czech party rivaled the best of them. There were small open-faced sandwiches topped with potato salad, ham, salami, and hard-boiled eggs; delicious salad; stromboli-like rolls with cheese and ham; potato pancakes; and the highlight–deer goulash! It was outstanding. All the food was homemade by Renata and her mom. Unfortunately neither Jess nor I brought a camera so I have no pictures to accompany this, but you can trust me when I say it was a tasty, tasty spread… (Editorial note 3/29: I realized today that I do have a picture of tradition Czech sandwiches so I added it, but these are not the sandwiches specifically from Renata’s party.)

Yesterday we (when I say “we” it is implied that it means Jess and me, because she’s pretty much my only friend and we pretty much do everything together) went to dinner with our friend Roman to his parents’ house. We just met Roman in the last few weeks when he heard Jess and our colleague speaking English at a little lunch place one day and we’ve hung out with him a few times since then. His parents live in a small village about 20 minutes outside of KV and they graciously extended an invitation for a meal of traditional Czech food. Roman’s grandma prepared rabbit with stuffing and apple strudel for dessert. The rabbit was from a neighbor who raises rabbits (for eating, not like for pets or racing or whatever else people might use rabbits for). Other than the few stray (rabbit) hairs, the meat was good! Not as juicy as chicken, but it had some good texture and taste. The stuffing was amazing–it had a nice crisp on the outside and walnuts provided a nice crunch on the inside. Roman’s parents spoke only a little English, but they were so friendly and cool we had a good time, and of course it helped that Roman has lived in Canada and Ireland so he is a perfect translator.

The last mini-chapter of this note is about my own cooking, which, if we’re being honest, is not on the same level as deer goulash or rabbit. This winter Jess and I have made a lot of soup. A lot. Usually it’s of the “semi-homemade” variety in which we buy a soup mix pack then add our own veggies and stuff to it. The soup pictured here I made a few weeks ago and we dubbed it “swamp soup.” It contains an entire package of frozen spinach because as you might recall we only have a mini fridge that has only a mini freezer compartment that doesn’t actually keep anything frozen. And our outdoor freezer (the snow-covered balcony off the kitchen) has disappeared now that spring is here so when we buy anything frozen we have to eat/use it all right away. Which led to me using the entire package of spinach and creating an almost intimidatingly green concoction… but with beans, carrot, corn, and little pasta shells thrown in it was actually pretty tasty and something I’ll keep in the repertoire for next winter. Though I can say pretty confidently I am happy to be soupless until then…

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