There is no typical traditional ‘food’ of Slovakia that would be recognised throughout the world, as many dishes have been greatly influenced by the surrounding countries, such as Hungary, Austria and Germany, but authentic Slovak cuisine is only found in Slovakia. Dishes rely heavily on meat, pork, beef and chicken being the most widely used, cabbage, carrots, onions, beans, corn and lentils feature strongly in many dishes and fresh fruit is often served on the side along with the main meal. Rice, although not grown in the country, is also widely used in many traditional dishes. With it’s strong rural roots, the dishes of Slovakia are hearty and use local produce as there were few imports and with no modern means of preserving foods, local dishes relied heavily on staple foods that could stand the hot summers and the cold winters . Wheat has always been milled to produce bread, dumplings and pastas and potatoes grown to be eaten boiled or made into potato doughs for the dumplings or potato pancakes. Every bit of the pig is used to make sausages, blood sausages, smoked bacon and lard. Traditionally breakfast will be a good, wholesome meal to make a good start to the day, usually bread, butter, ham, cheese, eggs, sausages and jam, and lunch is normally the main meal of the day, a soup and a main meal, with a lighter evening meal, however in the modern cities this is no longer be practical and then the evening meal will be the main meal.
Soups include ‘Fazu?ová’ a soup made from beans, ‘kapusta polievka’ sauerkraut and smoked sausage soup, ‘Rezancová’ chicken noodle soup and ‘Hubová Polievka’ a mushroom soup, with its strong ties to Hungary, Slovakian people also enjoy ‘Goulash soup’, spiced with plenty of paprika, which is very popular, both as a soup or, when thicker, as a stew.
One of the best known of Slovakia’s man dishes is ‘Bryndzové halušky’, a hearty meal which consists of potato dumplings covered with a soft sheep’ milk cheese called ‘Bryndza’ and then this is topped off with bits of fried smoked bacon. ‘Strapa?ky’ uses the same basis as the above dish, but instead of cheese the halusky (dumplings) are covered with sauerkraut. ‘Lokše’ are an indispensable part of Slovak cooking, they are thin pancakes made from a potato dough cooked on a griddle or un-greased frying pan. Lokše will also be eaten at Christmas time and found in all the Christmas markets around Slovkia. ‘Bryndzové pirohy’ are the Slovak equivlilant of the Polish pierogi, similar to the Italian ravioli, these can be filled with a number of different fillings but in Slovakia the most popular is bryndza, the sheep cheese used to make the Slovakian national dish of bryndzové halušky. There is also a sweet version which is filled with jam and sprinkled with poppy seeds. ‘Široké rezance s tvarohom a slaninou’ a dish of tagliatelle with quark and fried bacon. The Hungarian influence is seen in the Segedin Goulash is made with pork and sauerkraut and is normally served with steamed dumplings. Austrian influence in the Slovak cuisine is seen in the breaded pork schnizels ‘Rezen’. Another dish that is popular is cheese coated in breadcrumbs and then deep fried. ‘Zemiakové placky’ – potato pancakes fried in oil with garlic and flour and ‘Granadír’ – pasta with potato. Stuffed cabbage leaves filled with minced meat are also popular. Two of the most popular sausgaes in Slovakia are ‘jaternice’is a blood sauasage made from pork and rice and ‘klobasa’ a pork and garlic sausage.
Amongst the sweet dishes you will find ‘Bratislavské rožteky’ croissant shaped rolls with a poppy seed or walnut filling and a dusting of icing sugar. ‘Orechovník’, a sweet Nut roll or ‘Makovnik’ the same sweet roll but with a poppy seed filling, both are delicious sliced and served with a cup of tea or coffee. ‘Ryžový nàkyp’ (rice pudding)and Zeml’ovka is a bread pudding. When out and about in Slovakia look out for ‘Laskonky’ which are made from a fluffy dough with a creamy filling, ‘Medovicky’ honey biscuits, ‘Macacie oci’ double lsyer biscuits filled with chocolate cream and the hal-coated in chocolate, The strange looking ‘Valassky Trdelnik’ is known as wives hollow cake and ‘skalicky trdelnik’ is a traditional cake baked on a spit over an open fire.
Wines from Slovakia
Wine has been produced in Slovakia since the 7th Century B.C and the Romans brought many wine-making techniques to Slovakia. Despite the two world wars and then 40 years of soviet rule wine-making in Slovakia has been growing rapidly, the white wines are excellent and the red wines depend heavily on the year’s weather and temperatures. Wine is produced in the southern part of Slovakia and although most Slovak wines are not internationally well known they are very popular within the country and also with it’s neighbouring countries. There are six main wine regions in Slovakia, and it is home to more than 300 wine producers. The main Slovak wine known abroad is ‘Tokajske’ from the Tokaj wine region in Slovakia, although this once belonged to the northern part of Hungary and wine producers, in the Trokaj region, still have to adhere to Hungarian quality control regulations if they want to label this wine as coming from the area. Although there is only a handful of producers of sparkling wines but they do produce a significant amount.
There are two main types of beer in Slovakia ‘Svetle’ light beer with a bitter flavour or ‘tmave’ dark with a sweeter taste. The beers of Slovakia are unlike many of Europe’s more commercialised varieties and are more earthy giving fuller, original beer flavour and are generally made from 100% barley and therefore a great find for beer lovers. There are about 60 different brands of beers to sample from ‘slovakian breweries. Some of the great beers to look out for whilst visiting Slovkai are ‘Zlaty Bazant'(Golden Pheasant) which is the most well known pilsner type of beer in most of Slovakia’s pubs and bars. Another Pilsner type beer to look out for is ‘Corgon’ a lovely amber lager beer . If you prefer a darker beer then look for the tmave style ‘velvet’ beer, sometimes a little harder to find but well worth trying when you do, another dark option is ‘Saris Tmava’.
If you are looking for something non-alcoholic to drink then ;
Kofola’ is a soft drink similar to coca-cola, and ‘Vinea’ is a carbonated grape drink.
Spirits Slovakian ‘Slivovica’ is a clear plum spirit similar to schnapps.
’Borovika’ is the national drink of Slovakia and is a fruit spirit with the flavour of juniper.