Prague, Czech Republic
Tourism and consumerism are revolutionising eastern europe’s culinary outlook. Gone are the days of centralized, government controlled industrial bakeries. Many of the old traditional ways to prepare food are being brought back, re-examined, and transformed into gourmet culinary delights.
As with most great cuisines, eastern europe has a long history of rustic, rural food that is based on using whatever seasonal ingredients are available locally. Recent years have seen an explosion of high end restaurants, cooking schools, culinary competitions, and food festivals.
In Prague, a solid and independent Czech restaurant guide and an annual Czech food festival have brought about an increasing awareness of the quality of food available in the city. In the past, good food was only to be found in the home. Now there is an increasing intrest in good food by the locals.
There is now a magazine devoted to food and drink in Croatia, where people are becoming increasingly inclined to spend money on good food. Slovenian vintners are winning medals at international wine competitions, and Hungarian and Bulgarian winemakers are also begining to be taken seriously.
Across the former Soviet Union, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan have long served up outstanding Turkish-style food. Moscow has been importing Chefs from France and Switzerland to work in the city’s numerous restaurants.
Hungarian National Anthem
In Budapest there is a cable TV station, TV Paprika, celebrating the food culture of central Europe, and a website, chew.hu, about Hungarian cuisine.
It’s only a matter of time before the culinary traditions and modern trends of the east spread to other parts of the world, where much of the culture has been kept alive and passed down through the families of immigrants from the former Soviet Union.