The Czech Korun is the Czech Republic’s national currency. But do you know that they also have an unofficial currency? Yes, folks. It is the Slivovice (plum liquor).
Slivovice is a distilled wine spirit made from plums. It is widely produced everywhere in Czech, but primarily in the region of Moravia, where my husband is from. To produce slivovice, the plums and their ground kernels are initially crushed and pressed. Yeast, starch, and sugar may be added to the juice, and the mixture is then allowed to ferment. After some time, it is brought to a government-certified distillery for the final step in the process. In the olden times, the whole processing of slivovice used to be done at home. However, to prevent errors in the distillation process (production of methanol), home distillation is now banned. Besides, it is also a good opportunity for the government to collect taxes on the product.
On our first year here in Czech, my father-in-law brought us to a private distillery where he brought his own fermented products ready for distillation. It was interesting for me to witness the distillation process, but equally interesting to witness the eager faces of the men waiting for their final product. They take pride in the percentage of alcohol from their mixture. The usual strength of privately-produced slivovice is 50%. Most commercially-produced products have lower strength. On that particular event, ours had 55%. My father-in-law was beaming with pride.
Since my father-in-law is a slivovice hobbyist, we need not make our own as we regularly have a constant supply of this product. He makes gallons of it for his own private consumption and for distribution to his 2 sons.
This past weekend, my husband and his father were working on our driveway. We don’t own a cement mixer and had to borrow one form our neighbor. It was such a big help and we were very lucky to have such kind neighbors who are ready to lend a helping hand when needed. As a sign of gratitude for the favor, I asked them if I should bake a cake that they may bring with the mixer when they return the equipment borrowed. They were both laughing, as they said: “What do you mean cake? Slivovice. That’s what we’re bringing. It is the Unofficial national currency.”
That day, I had another lesson in Czech culture.