Game farms become popular in the Czech Republic

03-03-2006

Among the sweeping changes of the last 15 years in the Czech Republic, the diet of Czechs has also undergone a transformation. Though mostly this has been a shift away from traditional Czech foods, lately, game has been making a comeback as a popular dish. This can be best illustrated by the exploding numbers of game farms.

Photo: Mehmet Karatay, Creative Commons 3.0Photo: Mehmet Karatay, Creative Commons 3.0 There are over 130 officially registered game farms in the Czech Republic, and the numbers are growing. Vaclav Parizek, the President of the Association of Game Farmers, says that his organization has 150 members and he estimates over 10 000 animals are being raised on the farms. Roughly 40% of the animals are deer.

Vaclav Parizek explains when these farms started to take root in the Czech Republic:

"Game farms are an alternative possibility for Czech farmers under European Union conditions. The first farms were established about 30 years ago in Europe, and about 15 years ago in this country."

Photo: Jerzystrzelecki, Creative Commons 3.0Photo: Jerzystrzelecki, Creative Commons 3.0 For a more down-to-earth understanding of what you can expect of meals including wild game, Zdenek Bohlreich, a chef at Prague's Marriott hotel describes some traditional Czech foods:

"It has always been seasonal in this country, especially in the autumn when people went hunting. Some traditional cooking methods have always been used, like slow-cooking, braising, and only recently there have been some differences in the use of prime cuts of the wild game."

What are the most popular types of wild game meat?

"Well, I think that venison has always been number one, then hare, pheasant, and wild boar obviously. There has always been a lot of pig meat eaten here, so wild boar is also quite popular."

What about hot versus cold dishes? What sorts of dishes do you prepare hot, and what sorts of cold appetizers are there on offer?

"If I'm not mistaken we only have a couple of dishes. We serve game pate as a cold appetizer, and for the main course we serve fillet of deer with a port wine sauce, and chestnuts and green beans. We use some game for our buffets, and occasionally we serve some birds as well, but not much of it at the moment."

Photo: CzechTourismPhoto: CzechTourism How popular is it among guests?

"It works very well for us, so we have kept it on the menu for a very long time and it has always been very well appreciated."

How expensive is wild game?

"Actually, it's not more expensive than quality beef—it's just about the same."

Would you recommend any one particular dish that you have on offer?

"Well, if you come to see us and you eat our fillet of deer I think you won't be disappointed."

03-03-2006