Cooking has become a priority for me now that Alder is getting older. When he has a solid meal for dinner, he is happier in the evenings and our nighttime routine goes more smoothly.
Grocery shopping is a bit of a challenge in Prague for three reasons:
1. We live near a small supermarket that doesn’t have a large selection of meat or produce. There are two larger chain supermarkets further away. One of them, Albert, is a ten minute walk up a long hill. The other, Tesco, is a five minute tram ride away. Dan and I tend to go to Tesco on Sundays and pick up smaller items at Albert throughout the week.
2. Some items/ingredients are hard to find. Spices are particularly difficult. Luckily, we have an Asian food market near us, and that’s where I’ve found chili powder, ground cumin, and turmeric. It’s also the only place I’ve found canned black beans. It’s also hard to find good sliced white bread. Bread rolls are more common. There isn’t all-purpose flour in the grocery stores either, only different types of wheat flour. Lastly, it’s hard to find snack food like chips, candy bars, cookies, etc. A couple of coworkers swear by the Candy Store, which stocks American and British brands. If you want a bag of Doritos, Oreo cookies, or a big container of peanut butter, this is the place to go.
3. Most of the items in the grocery stores are, of course, written in Czech. I use pictures on the packaging or cognates (i.e., rice –rýže, basil–bazalka, milk–mléko) to help me find things but, sometimes, this isn’t enough. I often have to use google translate before I go grocery shopping to find the Czech names of the things I’ll need to buy.
So, what to cook?
Because of the challenges mentioned above and, let’s be honest, because I’m a novice cook, I focus on recipes that don’t have a lot of ingredients or too many exotic ingredients to work with. Here are a few simple recipes I’ve enjoyed making recently:
Poor Man’s Burritos – I’ve made this quite a bit. It’s super simple and all you really need is rice, black beans, cheese, green onions and salsa. A good, chunky salsa really makes this dish sing. It’s surprisingly filling as is, but you could take this dish further by adding meat, avocado, and other vegetables.
Craig Clairborne’s Beef Stew – I really enjoyed making this dish. It tastes like a real, classic French stew–red wine and water are the base of the stew. Also, there’s no potatoes or celery to cut up, just carrots and onions.
Spaghetti with Fried Egg – This dish is fast and very economical: just pasta, eggs, garlic, and some parmesan. Dan made a variation adding sun-dried tomatoes and smoked sausage.
Vegetarian Black Bean Chili – This takes just thirty minutes to make. It could use a little more heat, I think, but overall it has a nice flavor.
That’s my take on grocery shopping and cooking in Prague. Thanks, as always, for reading! Happy cooking!