Skip to main content

Foods that Make me Glad I'm Czech

It would be unthinkable to be fascinated with the foodways of your own culture, but not like the food. I genuinely love a lot of Texas-Czech foods and there aren't many that I come across normally that I would turn down. There is something elemental about sausage and sauerkraut... the tang of the cabbage and the richness of the pork. It's truly one of my favorite things to eat, if done right. Add noodles to it and it's the perfect comfort food. And have you ever bought an apricot kolach from Weikel's early in the morning fresh out of the oven? Who would not want to eat one every day for breakfast?

And the list goes on to include chicken noodle soup at our extended family Christmas gathering... a rich broth with homemade noodles from Mrs. Bujnoch in Hallettsville served with chicken salad sandwiches on white bread. I have to take a styrofoam, Saran Wrap-covered plate full to eat in the car on the way back to Austin. I love cold salmon and potato salad on Christmas Eve, buttery apple strudel, and more sausage. I love pan sausage in Hruska's klobasnik with sauerkraut, City Market's jalapeno sausage on the grill, Elgin hot links in a warm tortilla with mustard.

I've been thinking about the Czech foods I love as I do research for the cookbook I've been working on half-heartedly for years. Only now I'm working on it whole-heartedly. As I pour through community cookbooks, heritage society newsletters and magazine articles, looking for recipes, I'm creating menus in my head from all the delicious dishes I have yet to try, like cream soup with potatoes, pork cheeks with saukraut, wilted lettuce salad with bacon, pickled peaches, baked sweet rice, and homemade beet wine. 

However, there's the reality that Texas-Czechs are a frugal people who cooked many parts of animals that I, let's say, haven't developed a taste for yet. If I want my cookbook to truly capture the variety of traditional food in the state, I'm going to have make some culinary leaps of faith. I'm running across recipes for things like, gulp, breaded pigs feet, scrambled eggs and brains, pickled beef tongue, and head sausage. Not sure how I'm going to tackle this task yet, except to solicit some really brave recipe testers. Luckily, I pride myself on not being a picky eater and I don't get grossed out cutting up a chicken. I've never actually handled a foot, brain or tongue before, though. Maybe I could contract with Kocurek's Charcuterie to test the recipes and let me just come over and taste them?

Because the cookbook I want to write won't just be about kolaches and sausage. I want to capture the variety of ways people adapted to resources here in Texas after they immigrated, and how those adaptations created the cuisine we know as Texas-Czech (not really Czech food in Texas.) If industrious 1st generation Texas-Czechs utilized the whole hog, then I want to include those recipes in the book. And I certainly couldn't include a recipe without testing it... 2 or 3 times. I can imagine the scene now as I call my 12-year-old to the dinner table and he passes out.

But I'll cross that bridge (or pickle that tongue) when I come to it. For now, I'm going to pay homage to a few of the well-loved, time-tested foods that have inspired me to write the book to begin with.

Gene Marie Bohuslav's fantasy-colored ruzicky (rosettes.)
Moravia church picnic 2011 - fried chicken, stew, sauerkraut, green beans, buttered potatoes, white bread and sweet tea.
Kolaches from the best place to buy them in Austin.
My man braiding vanocka Christmas Eve morning.


  1. Please post your Wilted Lettuce Salad with bacon recipe.

  2. Sorry for the response time lag. This recipe came from the cookbook called "Domaci Kucharstvi" by the Sts. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church in Dubina, TX, copyright 1990. Here it is copied straight from the book. Let me know what you think! And thanks for reading my blog.

    Hlavkovy Salat S Spekem (Wilted Lettuce)
    1/2 head lettuce
    1/2 lb. bacon
    1 tsp. sugar
    1 tbsp. vinegar
    1/2 small onion (chopped)
    2 eggs (boiled and chopped)
    salt and pepper to taste

    Fry bacon and cut into pieces. Fry onion in the drippings until light brown. Add sugar, vinegar, salt, and pepper to the drippings along with the bacon. Tear lettuce into small pieces and put in a bowl. Pour mixture over lettuce and stir in the chopped eggs.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Summer Canning

Yesterday, I opened a jar of pickled brussel sprouts and carrots that I made a few weeks ago. I don't can often and wish I did more. The satisfying pull of the lid coming off the first time and the whiff of vinegar and garlic should inspire me more. But, I'm lulled into laziness because I always have something put up by my parents in either my fridge or pantry - beets, pickled this or that, jelly, tomatoes, salsa, flavored vinegar. I know I'll greatly miss the benefits of their industriousness when they decide it's too much trouble. 

Both my parents grew up in families that canned and, in that way it seems people of their generation can remember small details of growing up (they actually showed up for their lives as opposed to watching other's live lives on screens 24/7), they lovingly remember specific foods and tastes from specific family members.

My mother, who grew up in Hallettsville, remembers enjoying garlic pickles (spears), sweet and sour pickles (spears), b…

Buchta with Nuts and Raisins

In his photo book Journeys into Czech Moravian Texas, author Sean N. Gallup wrote a few paragraphs about food in contemporary Texas- Czech culture. During his fieldwork, he observed "Other Texas-Czech pastries [besides kolaches] include klobasniky.... and buchta, a larger fruit filled loaf.... " (Texas A&M University Press, 1998).

Though my grandmother made an apricot buchta (or she just called it a roll), more common buchty might be poppyseed or cream cheese. Less common seems to be the buchta I've made filled with nuts and raisins. The Czech word "buchta" doesn't seem to be surviving as well as the word "kolach" either, for though Gallup mentions it third in a list of common Texas Czech pastries, I've found it almost impossible to find a recipe in a community cookbook that actually uses the word buchta. Instead, I find recipes for "rolls".  Still, Westfest actually has a buchta category in it's annual baking contest. And po…

Dougal Makes Cream Cheese Rolls

When my 14-year-old son asks to bake something (himself), especially something from his ethnic heritage, well history, nostalgia, and pride tell me to say yes. My oldest son asked to make cheese rolls (or buchta in Czech) which is one of his favorite sweets. We didn't get started until late on a Friday night, after dinner out, after going to see the new Percy Jackson movie, after a trip to the grocery store to get the ingredients because I hadn't planned well. But we did it. How could I discourage such an urge?

Cheese rolls are not dinner rolls with cheese on them; they are jelly-roll type sweets of yeasted dough filled with sweetened cream cheese. We used my grandmother Anita (Morkovsky) Kallus' recipe, which is below. A buchta can actually have in it some of the same things that kolaches are filled with... poppyseed, apricots, cream cheese, but also pecans, brown sugar, raisins or whatever else might strike your fancy. They can also be shaped so that the dough is braide…