Showing posts with label Slovakia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Slovakia. Show all posts

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sounds like a Healthy Debate About Patriotism in Slovakia

Slovak Flag

The New York Times recently chronicled a healthy debate about patriotism that is going on in Slovakia.  Politicians are playing to populism asking all schools to display the flag and play the national anthem every morning.  This is all taking place in advance of upcoming elections.  Critics, including Martin Simecka, (son of Milan Simecka, who would be so proud of his son's public intellectual role) say the efforts aren't inclusive of ethnic minorities and may glorify the past with uncomfortable truths glossed over. Click on my title to read the article.

Friday, January 29, 2010

What Flavor Do You Associate with the Czech Republic?

Quick.  What flavor or spice do you associate with India? The clock is ticking...oh you didn't need any extra time, did you? Most people answer "curry." What's flavor do you associate with Japan? The clock is ticking...everyone may not answer this one the same way. I would say "wasabi."

What flavor would you associate with the Czech and Slovak Republics? Before arriving in Prague, I would have drawn a blank.  Today I would say: "honey."

Do you like honey? Let me tell you about two fabulous Czech specialties that are delicious!

The first product is an alcoholic beverage.  It's mead! How can an American learning about other cultures resist a beverage with such a long and storied European history and medieval name.  It sounds like something one should be served at a Renaissance Fair along with a big fat turkey leg.  Mead is wine made out of three ingredients: honey, water, and yeast. If you want to call it by it's Czech and Slovak name, it's marketed as 'medovina.'

I discovered the joys of medovina one night when I had arrived at a friend's flat, cold and shivering, and my friend offered me a cup of warm medovina to take the chill off. I sat down with a deliciously warm, yummy glass of medovina and fell in love with the taste.

I wish I had noticed the brand name at the time (it came in a clear bottle) because ever since then, I've been tasting different brands of medovina to try and reproduce that exact memory of deliciousness. It's easy to find medovina that is sickly sweet and needs to be watered down.  This wine tasted like a gently sweet, low-viscosity form of honey. Try it. If the first brand is too sweet, give another brand a try.  Mulled mead (doesn't that sound medieval?) is available at Christmas time.  It has additional spices and fruit flavors added.

Are you more of a show-stopping dessert type? I'm not as much.  But I remember one of my fellow teacher's reaction to Medovnik, an exquisite honey cake served everywhere in Prague for dessert.  She was in utter rhapsody! She loved it so much she tried to make it at home.  "Don't bother," she reported after her attempt. "It's not for amateurs.  It's w-a-y-y-y too much work." So I guess she's back to turning heads in cafes with those moans of ecstasy as she consumes her medovnik.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Czech's Shadow Still Large in Slovakia

In America, we have a phrase "keeping up with the Joneses." It describes the phenomenon of all of a sudden needing a new car if the Jones' next door just bought one. This New York Times story amused me because it seems the whole concept can be applied to countries too.

Click on my title to read about Slovak ambivalence toward the Czechs and their excitement at adopting the Euro before the Czechs did. For once, the Slovaks are the Joneses! Take that, Czech Republic!
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