Monday, December 19, 2011

It's just not Christmas without carp!

A traditional Czech Christmas dinner just wouldn't be complete without carp.  Yes, carp.  That oily fish whose relatives are popular ornamental fish.  I'm sure you've owned a pet goldfish or two in your life, and perhaps admired and fed fish in a koi pond.  Well, those are said carp's relatives.   Oh, and did I mention that it's also a bony fish?  Not just bony in the sense of a couple bones here and there.  No, we're talking we all sit down to a civilized Christmas Eve dinner, raise our glasses for the 22nd toast of the evening, and spend the rest of the meal in silence as we pick bones out of our mouths after each bite.  I've probably turned you off by now, but the thing is, we go back for more each and every year.  Why?  Because Christmas just wouldn't be the same without carp, and stranger more, because it is delicious.

Traditional Czech Christmas Eve Dinner Menu:
Vanocni Polevka Z Kapra (carp soup)
Fried carp
Baked carp aka Gypsy carp ("kapr po cikánsku")
Potato salad

Followed by dessert:
Vánočka (Czech Christmas bread that is absolutely to die for!)
Assortment of homemade cookies

Traditional Czech Christmas dinner... fish soup (carp), fried carp and potato salad 

Right about now you'll see fishmongers with their large tubs of live carp throughout Prague and other cities in the Czech Republic.  

 In recent years, salmon and even poultry and pork-based dishes have gained popularity as viable replacements for carp at Christmas, which the younger Czechs view as too heavy a meal.  However, carp remains the undisputed favorite for most families.  Some families have tried salmon or something else one year, but they always come back to carp realizing that it's just not Christmas without carp!