Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's VIP Prostreno Time!

The Czech Republic is a small country. Again, I claim no absolute knowledge of geography, but by train you can travel all the way across the longest bit in about 8 hours. And trains are slow and make frequent stops and have delays in between. Due to the size, it is a lot easier for them to have a closeness that does not exist in Mega-Countries like the United States. The Czech's have a much longer history than Americans, and this also serves to hold them together. Perhaps this is a possible reason that shows like Prostreno can exist. The basic premiss of the show is that a group of 5 strangers takes turns hosting dinner one night of the week. The person in charge for the evening creates a menu and sends it out to each of the other members. As part of the show they interview the people to make guesses about what the person will make, then ask their take on how the dishes will be when they have a chance to read the menu. Throughout this time they cross back over to the cook of the day and watch their preparations. The guests arrive and have a chance to snoop around the person's house, giving commentary of course. Then they all sit down to dinner and share opinions on the food and the atmosphere. There is usually some sort of game for entertainment somewhere in the middle. Each host offers up a starter, soup/salad course, main dish and dessert. At the end, the others are interviewed on their own to give a score out of ten. On Friday, the person who scored the most points is rewarded with 10,000 KC. Not quite like the $10,000 prize on most Food Network shows, but while those tend to be a production on a grand scale, Prostreno looks more like something you could actually do with your friends. In the process of my Czech cooking training, I think I have finally amassed enough knowledge to take my shot on Prostreno. Okay, maybe I'm not quite up to that (the word literally means "intermediate") but I now have the correct number of dishes in me repertoire. Starter: Smazenky - a slice of bread fried with an egg and flour mixture on one side, then topped with mustard and veggies. Salad: Light green salad with a homemade dressing. Main Course: Beef with an onion sauce served on rice. Dessert: Almonds caramelized with cinnamon and sugar. I'm not saying it would be the meal that wins the money, but it should at least count for something. I have all the recipes stored on my iPad complete with my rough approximation of ingredients and instructions as well as photos to help illustrate how it all should look. This week they are having the special VIP version of the show. Four famous Czech couples are taking their chances at cooking. I'm not sure if there is any monetary prize in store at the end. I think it's just the pleasure of knowing that they won, but it's still pretty entertaining. Last night the final couple to arrive didn't even know who they were coming to see somehow, maybe they lost the number they were supposed to ring, so they just started calling up to all sorts of different flats to see if they'd found the right one. Pretty entertaining. The whole show is so intimate, that I'm not sure it would work on US television. Perhaps on a local channel they could tuck it in after the nightly news. There is just such a lack of continuity in the US. Sure, people put on some sort of patriotic front, but they all seem to stand for such different things that it's hard to even define what American culture is. I guess it doesn't really matter, but there's something nice about the cozy feeling of national identity that people have around here. Guess that comes of having a language that only 11 million people speak, instead of most of the world. Note: according to my Love, google translate is wrong. Prostreno actually means: set the table. makes a bit more sense at least :)

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