Mirka van Gils Slavíková is a Czech-born confectioner, holder of the prestigious French diploma Master of Confectionery Arts. She launched her successful career in 1980’s Communist Czechoslovakia, but the country soon became too small for her dreams. She first moved to South Africa and later to the United States, where she ran a popular pastry store. Today, Mirka van Gils Slavíková lives in Holland, and besides baking, she also appears on various TV programmes, writes books and teaches. She is currently one of the judges on the Czech edition of
Sofia Smith is a British-born chef of Irish-Malaysian heritage, who has been living in Prague since the late nineties. She started her career at the British Council and has since become one of the most respected experts on Asian cuisine in the Czech Republic. She is currently Executive Chef of Cafe Buddha in Prague’s Vinohrady district. That’s where I caught up with her to discuss her life in the Czech capital. I started by asking what made her leave the IT sector and pursue cooking professionally.
Icelander Davíd Arnórsson has been a baker all his life. He ran a successful bakery in Iceland, but always dreamt of setting up a business abroad. Two years ago, he moved to the Czech Republic, opening a bakery called Arctic Bakehouse at Prague’s Újezd, together with his friend and business partner, Gudbjartur Gudbjartsson. Their sourdough breads and Nordic pastries became an instant hit with both the locals and tourists.
The late Václav Havel is famous around the world as a statesman and symbol of human rights and democracy. Rather less well-known is that Havel was also a very enthusiastic cook. This year many of the dissident-turned-president’s recipes were gathered in a rather delightful cookbook entitled Kančí na daňčím (Wild Boar on Venison).
Christmas Eve is the most important festive day of the holiday according to Czech tradition. Although known as the “generous day” – Štědrý den – when it comes to food, one is meant to be quite modest. Few fast all day on December 24 but many do follow the Christian custom of eating meatless dishes for lunch that day, spruced up with a plaited Christmas sweetbread – vánočka.
On Friday people all around the Czech Republic began celebrating Saint Martin’s Day, which falls on November 11. According to a Czech proverb, it is the day which brings the first snow to the country. In recent years, however, the day has mostly been associated with the arrival of the season’s first wine and with the traditional feast of roast goose.
Fifty-four percent of Czech households say they have no trouble meeting
their needs on their present income, according to the results of a poll
conducted by the CVVM agency. That is the highest number in 17 years when
polling on the subject first started.
Twenty-four percent of households consider themselves poor, which is two percent more than last year. Sixty-six percent of households do not consider themselves either rich or poor, but claim that they can meet their basic needs.
However only half of households have enough left at the end of the month to put money aside and a third say they cannot afford to support their elderly parents or go on foreign holidays.
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