Hey Boo-Boo! Let's Go Get Some Picnic Baskets!

How to Pack a Picnic in Prague

How to pack a picnic? First you need to know how to break through the language barrier at the deli counter. Pointing and gesturing only go so far. First, say please, prosím, then say or point to whatever meat or cheese looks right for you. Then say nakrájet which means "to be sliced" unless that is, you want a whole chunk of the stuff. Your server will ask how much - kolik? You then put your thumb up in the air. Don't worry about the customers huffing behind you - you are in control of the situation. Once the slicing is underway, start saying ok,ok,ok and then stop. Then say prosím or ok again. Easy, isn't it? It's fun being a foreigner on your way to a picnic. Now, here's where to shop.

Of course there's Tesco at Národní trída, but it's all vacuum packed and hectic. No adventure to be found. You might try Jan Paukert, the old school delicatessen on Národní which has delicious roast beef chlebícky - open-faced sandwiches for just 12 Kc. They also have bottles of vintage spirits, wines and top-shelf booze for many thousands Kc more. (They take credit cards.) There are nice gourmet Italian salamis and French cheeses too, but again, you will need to know the ordering drill.

For ready-made sandwiches, consider Bohemia Bagel, which has two locations. If you plan on heading up the hill to Petrin - the vast and wonderful park to the left of the castle - your best bet is the one on Újezd. The bagels are terrific and the staff is accustomed to your kind, meaning substitutions are kosher. Nearby is the Caffe Vesconi - a nice, little quickie spot - with good Delicatesse baguettes and other baked goods. Paneria is a solid chain of bakeries/sandwich shops; try the Italian-style grilled sandwiches. Unfortunately, the service ain't much.

We tend to frequent Java Kava, located across from Tesco at the Národní trída stop, as their made-to-order goods are some of the best in the city. Bakeshop Praha, which has first-rate quality and gourmet prices, probably offers the best sandwiches in town. Around the corner is Bakeshop's upstart competitor, Gourmand. Nice selection, spotty service. Finally you ought to taste some of the original Prague ham, šunka od kosti. The delightfully gamy interior of the J+J Mašek & Zemanová family-run delicatessen and meat market on Karmelitská in Malá strana is reason enough to visit, but you've come for the ham "off the bone". Horcice is mustard, Kren is horseradish, by the way. Until you really tackle Czech, pointing and gesturing and smiling are still your best tools for getting what you want.
Now then. Load that rucksack, grab your sweetheart and a blanket and head for a nice, private spot to relax, away from the maddening crowds. Ok, ok, ok.

Tesco, Národní 26

Jan Paukert, Národní 17

Java Kava, Králodvorská 11, and across from Tesco

Gourmand, Dlouhá 10

Paneria, Vítezná 15, Krížovnická 12

Bakeshop Praha, V kolkovne 2

Bohemia Bagel, Újezd 16, Masná 2

Caffe Vesconi, Újezd 36

Mašek & Zemanová, Karmelitská 30

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