“Čas na Pivo” (Time for Beer)

There are only a few residents in my little community, but it is not without a pub. A pub is a very important part of a Czech settlement, because it is the home of the beer. And for those of you who are new to Czech and would like to meet a few people, it is the best place to go.

One day, as my 3-year-old son and I were walking, he tried to drag me to the direction of the pub and told me: “Mommy, Čas na pivo” (time for beer). I was taken aback by this gesture and was thinking to myself: “where did he learn that phrase?” But it really doesn’t matter. He could’ve easily picked it up from the people around him. It just goes to show that beer is an integral part of Czech culture. Even a 3-year-old knows it.

Playing with an empty beer bottle during our first few days here.
Playing with an empty beer bottle during our first few days here.

In my opinion, there are 2 basic food items in this world that Czechs can’t live without: bread (chleba) and beer (pivo). I know this because if I don’t have these things at home, my Czech husband gets into a bad mood. I have learned my lesson. I need to have a steady supply of bread and beer at my home to prevent any unpleasant mood swings.

During our big move from the US to Czech, we stopped by Brussels for 2 days to do a little sightseeing and slightly recover from the jetlag. Guess what my husband ordered in a Belgian restaurant. That’s right, a beer sampler.

beer sampler

This fondness for beer is not only with men but also with women too. Beers come in different varieties, alcohol strength, and raw material source. And to cater to everyone’s “needs,” a beer can also be non-alcoholic. Inasmuch as Czechs like alcoholic beverages, there is a zero tolerance limit of alcohol for drivers in this country. Thus, brewers have to come up with this non-alcoholic variety.

Before meeting my husband, I never liked beer. When we were still living in the States, and had parties with friends, I would drink it just to have something to drink. But now that we are here in the Czech Republic, and I have been introduced to all different kinds of beers, there is a growing fondness for beer in my palate. Thankfully, they have the non-alcoholic variety, so I can still enjoy it even now that I’m pregnant.

If you are Czech and don’t like beer, please do share your story of your secret society. Because out of my two years of living here, I have yet to meet a Czech who has an aversion to beer.

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Chleba: A Gauge for “Czechness”

There are Czechs and there are “Czechs”.  If you want to distinguish a true blue Czech, you have to be in the lookout for their bread preferences.  A true Czech will always look for Chleba.   Chleba is a sour dough rye bread, dark in color and moist.  It has a distinct unique taste to it that is very different from any other bread.

Photo courtesy of  ireceptar.cz

Through all those years that we have spent in the US, my husband never got satisfied with the kind of bread that was sold in the stores there.  He was always saying that it is nothing like Chleba.   Apparently, the same is true for some of the other Czechs that I know.  My brother and sister in law, both Czechs, had to bake their own chleba from scratch when they lived in North Carolina.  They missed it THAT much.

Well, I guess I know how it feels because in the many years that I lived outside of the Philippines, I still crave for rice.  That is also our gauge for “Pinoy-ness.”