These articles were published in the Spectacular Slovakia travel guide, published annually by The Slovak Spectator since 1996. The latest editions can be obtained from our online shop.



Slovak food

A hundred years ago,most Slovaks were farmers, which explains the cuisine: the food is simple, filling and made from ingredients

    
 
 Photo: Zuzana Habšudová

When you dine out in Slovakia, expect a majority of dishes in a typical restaurant to be based on one of the country's three basic staples: potato, pork and cabbage. The national dish is Bryndzové halušky, or potato-pasta squiggles topped with sheep cheese and bacon. The quintessential Slovak soup is kapustnica, made with sauerkraut and smoked ham (or sausage). Cabbage is served with main entrees (such as pork cutlet), and potatoes (boiled, french-fried) come on the side. The Irish tend to feel at home here. Vegetarians complain. Visitors who have climbed a Slovak mountain, found a rough-looking wooden restaurant (Koliba) and eaten a plate of halušky and a bowl of kapustnica are usually happy.

A hundred years ago, most Slovaks were farmers, which explains the cuisine: the food is simple, filling and made from ingredients grown locally in abundance. History made a second mark on Slovak food. Slovakia used to be part of the Austrio-Hungarian Empire: here too, especially in Bratislava, you'll find schnitzel (rezeň), smoked sausages, an assortment of torts and cakes, thick, creamy hot chocolate, turkey cordon bleu, dumplings, goulash, and plum brandy (slivovica).

Below is a guide to eating out in Slovakia and recipes for four common Slovak dishes. See Spectacular Slovakia 2003 (on the net at www.spectacularslovakia.sk) for recipes for bryndzové halušky, kapustnica and goulash.

Lečo

Lečo is an easy summertime dish that puts to use tomatoes and peppers which are grown in abundance across Slovakia (it's also made in Hungary and the Czech Republic).

1 small onion (or half a big one)

Oil

2 green or red (bell) peppers

5 tomatoes

Half teaspoon of salt

1 egg

1-2 hot dogs

*100-150 grams of a semi-hard

cheese (Swiss does the job.

The Slovak Hermelín - similar

to Camembert - is also good)

Peel and chop onion. Fry onion in pot with oil until bubbles appear. Add peppers (chopped) and cover. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Stir in tomato (chopped). Simmer another ten minutes, or until peppers soften. Add salt. Add hot dogs (chopped). Add raw egg. Stir until consistent.

*Vegetarian: substitute cheese for hot dogs. But add after the egg.

Servings: 2

Total cooking time: 20-25 minutes

Zemiakové placky

(potato pancakes)

6-10 potatoes (medium to large)

1 egg

Tablespoon of salt

Tablespoon of marjoram

(majorán)

Pinch of pepper

5 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup milk

3/4 cup flour

Tablespoon of margarine

Oil

Peel, wash and shred potatoes. Drain water. Mix in all other ingredients except oil. Spread batter over oil in frying pan (pancakes can be from palm-sized to size of whole pan). Fry over medium-high heat until golden brown (3 to 6 minutes), flipping once halfway through.

Servings: 2-4

Total cooking time: 40 minutes

Fazuľová polievka

(bean soup)

200 grams kidney beans

3 carrots

2 parsley stalks

1/4 celery root

3-5 garlic cloves

1 potato

3-5 bay leaves (bobkový list)

Teaspoon marjoram

3 tablespoons oil

Tablespoon flour

Salt

Pepper

Soak beans in water overnight (at least six hours). Bring 1 1/2 liters of water to boil. Reduce heat, add beans (drained) and bay leaves. Cover and simmer until beans are semi soft (15-30 minutes). Add (chopped) carrots, parsley, garlic and celery root. Simmer five minutes. Stir in thickener*. Add potato (shredded). Simmer five minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

*Heat oil, stir in flour, add a third cup cold water, stir

Servings: 4

Total cooking time: 1 hour

    
 
 Photo: Zuzana Habšudová

Medovníky

(Christmas honey cookies)

800 grams flour

280 grams frosting

(see recipe below)

150 grams butter

4 eggs

4 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons 'gingerbread' spice

(perníkové korenie), or equal parts

cinnamon, anise, and clove

2 tablespoons baking soda

Mix ingredients into a smooth dough. Let dough sit at room temperature for at least 24 hours. Roll dough against a flat surface with a rolling pin. Cut shapes (hearts, stars, bells, et cetera) with cookie-cutters or a knife. Bake cutouts on a greased cookie sheet at 200 degrees Celsius until raised and golden brown. Brush beaten egg white over smaller cutouts before baking and over larger cutouts a few minutes before finished.

Total cooking time: 30-60 minutes

ICING RECIPE

1 egg white

120-140 grams sifted icing sugar

Blend ingredients in mixer for 10 minutes. Put mixture into small plastic bag. Stab hole at one end, squeeze and decorate.


These articles and related information were published in Spectacular Slovakia 2004.

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