Klobása Controversies and Scandals
A guide to Czech sausages and their (supposed) contents
While the raw and veggie trend is spreading fast in Prague, klobása remains to be one of the favorite dishes in Czech cuisine. It is hard to resist the grilled juicy sausage that tastes best with some rye bread, mustard and ketchup. This popular fast food is considered by many to be Prague’s signature delicacy, comparable to waffles in Belgium.
Klobása is simply a sausage made with minced beef and/or pork. It is typically prepared on a grill until slightly crispy on the outside. The percentage of actual meat may vary, especially among store-bought klobása. Since there are no specific regulations on sausages in the market, it is up to the producer to decide on the ingredients.
Annual tests on popular products found in stores always make the headlines. According to the tests that took place in August 2015 that analyzed 17 grilled sausage brands, meat percentage ranged from 55.3 to 92.6 percent (1/2). These results also showed that one fourth of the companies advertised an incorrect percentage on the packaging.
Despite these controversies, Czechs are all about sausages and serve them just about everywhere. Restaurants like to offer sausage specialties as main courses and as cheese-plate style appetizers. You can also find sausages at food stands in the city center, at festivals and even in the middle of the woods and in the courtyards of old castles.
Pubs know better than anyone that there are few joys in life that compare to washing down a sausage with a glass (or several glasses) of cool draft beer. This is why even the smallest pubs with a limited food menu will likely offer klobása or utopenec. Some also offer vegetarian options of fried or pickled cheese but that’s a whole nother story.
Utopenec, meaning drowned man, is a pickled sausage with a unique tangy taste. Commonly served with pickled onions, pickled peppers and of course pickled pickles, the vinegar-doused treat is served cold and is a lighter and less-greasy alternative to klobása.
Closely related to klobása is špekáček, a short fat sausage popular for grilling on an open fire. Witch burning night for example just cannot be imagined without the crispy on the outside undercooked on the inside bundles of joy. Their ends are sliced to help them cook more evenly but the larger the cuts, the more risk of them falling into the flames.
With špekáčky comes a great mystery: is a špekáček the same thing as a buřta? A buřt looks just like a špekáček and most people would struggle with identification if it came down to a taste-test. However the official difference according to Reflex magazine is simple: meat content.
While anything sold as a špekáček is legally obligated to contain at least 40% meat, a buřt is allowed to be completely “vegetarian”. So next time you order that delicious buřtguláš, keep in mind that its protein content may not be as expected. The delicious meal may be rich with animal parts but not necessarily those that are considered to be meat.
The argument is never-ending despite the facts. If you want to start an argument you can wear some špekáček/buřt jewelry – these bracelets and necklaces are great for camping trips. But be warned, since they are 100% plastic the argument may never end.
Meat percentages play an important role in a country that consumes so many sausages. With the EU cracking down on food regulation and hygiene laws, stands selling klobásas have been under extra scrutiny. The popular stands at Václavské náměstí received a lot of criticism and were almost shut down in 2009.
In December 2009 the Christmas markets got surprise visits from inspectors who in turn discovered surprising results. Stands at the bottom of Václavské Náměstí turned out to serve sausages with 74.25% meat. Staroměstské Náměstí beat them by an extra one % while Náměstí Míru blew them both out of the water with 79.73%.
One specific stand, however, stood out against all others. Located in front of Hotel Evropa on Václavské Náměstí, you will find the stand that serves the statistically best sausages in Prague. The 92.43% meat klobásas cost only 50 CZK and taste almost 20% better than most others. Next time you’re walking through town with a rumbling tummy, take a bite of the famous sausage that saved the day as well as the klobása stands from closing.
1 - www.zpravy.aktualne.cz
2 - www.rozhlas.cz
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