28-04-2007

This week: a gingerbread biscuit in the form of a large-than-life ear; the secret of packing a pipe; a neckerchief for a steel lookout tower and wreaths for military dogs made from bratwurst sausages. Finally, pictures by a painter who never was are on display in galleries around the country. That and more in Magazine.

We have previously reported on Radio Prague about the gory legend of the "Stramberk ears". They are cone-shaped gingerbread cookies baked in the town of Stramberk in North Moravia, in memory of a battle against the Tartars in the 13th century. The invaders had a habit of cutting off the ears of their Christian victims to prove to their leader how many people they had slain. The ear-shaped biscuits are usually about 10 centimetres in size but two bakers in the town have now broken a record. They have baked a giant ear, almost a metre and a half in diameter. One thing is for sure: their record cannot be broken anywhere else but Stramberk as this year the European Union granted Stramberk an exclusive right to bake these cookies.

 

Smoking a pipe is a ritual that requires time and technique. Some say that the packing and lighting of a pipe is an art in itself. A Czech organisation of pipe smokers holds an annual competition in slow pipe smoking. Sixty-two smokers from the Czech Republic and neighbouring Slovakia and Poland took part in this year's seventh annual contest. The winner, 63-year-old Vaclav Vachta from the town of Prachatice, managed to keep his tobacco alight for a full hour and 44 minutes. Ivan Turtev from Slovakia came second having kept his pipe lit for an hour and 32 minutes. When asked about the secret behind his success, the winner revealed it is in the way you put tobacco into the pipe. "The bottom layer should be packed with the strength of a child, the second one with that of a woman and the third layer of tobacco has to be inserted with the force of a man," said Vaclav Vachta who gave up cigarettes for a pipe when he was 35.

 

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK The Prague Petrin lookout tower dominates the skyline of the Czech capital not far from Prague Castle. The construction, which looks like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, changed its appearance last week. It was adorned with a giant white and yellow neckerchief to mark the 100th anniversary of the Scout Movement. The 70 square metre piece of fabric was attached to the tower by professional mountain climbers. Although it blocked much of the view, the accessory did not affect the tower's opening hours, which can be climbed between 10 am and 7 pm throughout the summer season.

 

Fans of healthy cooking will be familiar with the young British celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver. Apart from a number of TV series and restaurants, Jamie has also launched his own tableware. Now the selection of 36 platters, bowls and plates and cooking and serving dishes is produced nowhere else but the West Bohemian spa town of Karlovy Vary, which has a long tradition of porcelain making. The company had to beat some tough competition to get the contract for the Jamie Oliver series which is distributed under the Royal Worcester brand with a "Made in the Czech Republic" sign on the bottom.

 

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK Twelve specially trained dogs that took part in foreign peacekeeping missions of the Czech military have been given special awards for their outstanding service. Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanova bestowed them with wreaths made not from flowers but bratwurst sausages. While 11 of the dogs gulped down their accolades immediately, a three-year-old German Shepard named Dik carried his proudly around his neck all the way to his kennel. His handler, Petr Richter, told reporters that because of the danger of poisoning, Dik has been trained not to take any food from other people unless given permission from his master.

 

The Czech art scene has rediscovered a long-forgotten significant painter whose style is described as bearing elements of lyrical cubism. His works are selling like hotcakes in the Czech Republic and neighbouring Germany and Austria. But there is a catch. The artist, one Bohumil Samuel Kecir, most probably never existed. He is said to have been born at the beginning of the 20th century in Moravia where he suffered under the Nazi occupation and was eventually sent to a mental hospital by the communists. This long-forgotten artist was miraculously rediscovered after 1989 and his works have been exhibited a few times since around the country. TV Nova recently reported that the whole thing is a scam and a Bulgarian art collector based in Vienna as well as several gallery owners are behind the scheme. But apparently no buyer of Kecir's work has filed a suit yet.

28-04-2007