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Dubrovnik Spread Eagle

Walking the upper streets of historical, stony and heavily bombed Dubrovnik Old City can lead you to unexpected sights. Unfortunately the fountain wasn't turned on.


Pivní Sýr - Cutting the Cheese the Bohemian Way

Dear Old Prague
Sitting in a Praguese garden restaurant accompanied by some local friends. I had just a minute ago boasted how I always, when visiting different countries, wanted to eat local specialities. And here I sat in an excellent, non-touristy Bohemian food serving establishment and had ordered myself a steak and potato wedges. Steak and potato wedges! A kind of a dish you can order at the shabbiest highway service station café throughout the world! It probably included steamed vegetables too. I noticed this logical incongruity between my talk and actions somewhat delayed, and I think one of our Praguese friends made a derisive remark on that as well. Fortunately later on I got a chance to redress my philistine demeanour.

Typical Praguese garden restaurant
Some time after the steak and our entourage having guzzled down several pints of spectacular Czech beer, one Praguese friend of ours placed an order for something called pivní sýr. Somebody else said that now there really is some local speciality coming up. Pivní sýr stands for 'beer cheese', and we were warned that it's a cheese with an astounding smell. Even the waitress bringing the portion inquired: who's the one wanting to stink? She laid the serving in front of the chap sitting next to me. It included a small basketful of regular looking sliced bread and a plate with some chopped onion, a generous heap of yellow mustard, some butter and a fair slice of that notorious cheese. It was some kind of unripened cheese with some paprika powder sprinkled over it. I smelled it and was actually a bit disappointed to find the aroma mostly mild. The Prague dude asked me how I thought the portion was to be consumed. I automatically assumed you'd spread some butter and mustard on a bread slice, cut some cheese upon it and finally top it with some onion to taste.

Our final bill. Each 'fence stake'
stands for a pint of beer.
- Not quite, said my friend, and using a fork, started vigorously to mash the cheese, mustard, butter and onion into baby poo looking pulp.
- And here's the beautiful part. The man poured a splash of beer from his pint on the mixture, and went on beating it with his fork. Something in the collision of the cheese pulp and beer caused undoubtedly vigorous chemical reactions, because a pungent, no, downright satanic stink started to creep about our table.
- You sick bastards, I managed to say, despite the stupefying stench. May I taste it? May I, please! I broke up a piece of bread, put a dab of the beer cheese mush on it and had a taste. The gutsy taste resembled distantly the aroma of gastric acid. You know, the shudderingly bitter mouth-filling flavour on your palate when you already have vomited your stomach empty, but you can't stop retching. I immediately ordered myself my own portion of pivní sýr.

After yet another guy in our group having ordered one more portion of pivní sýr, the barmaid announced that it would be the last piece of beer cheese in the house tonight. So apparently even the Czechs don't eat it that much or often since we consumed the restaurant's whole stock by eating three portions. Later at the night, after way too many pints, in another restaurant, we continued our hedonistic and gastronomic wallowing with what was maybe the world's best cheese garlic soup, but that's another story.