The Hidden World of Czech Food Within the United States
By: Casey Conniff
Ask anyone what reminds them the most of home and without fail one of the top answers is always the same. The food. Food grounds us- it provides the tastes, smells, and memories of childhood. A good home cooked meal can solve any problems. Look no further than Czech communities dispersed across the United States.
For any immigrant or descendant who has left their home country, it can be difficult to retain the connections, bonds, and traditions that bind them to their country and their community. Making a home cooked meal of traditional Czech food provides that strong connection to the past that can never be forgotten. Among Czech communities within the United States, both physical and those that exist on social media, the discussion of Czech restaurants and food, pictures of delicious food, and sharing of recipes is limitless. People love their food, and Czechs, even those abroad, are no different.
Czech food is not only found within the home in the United States but also appears throughout restaurants and cafes in various communities. According to the Czech Republic Embassy in the United States, Czech restaurants can be found in over 20 states with some states hosting numerous restaurants, cafes, and bars such as the 15 in Illinois.
One cafe that has found a home within the Czech community in the United States, as well as with non-Czechs both domestic and abroad, is Ema Landis’s Mom’s Baking Co. A native Czech born herself, Landis has worked hard to create the beloved Czech cafe in Breckenridge, Colorado, a popular ski tourist destination. The cafe serves a variety of Czech desserts such as the cafe’s most popular, venecek and caramel vetrenik, as well as savory treats such as their specialty chlebicky. Landis claims that it took some time, but before long the traditional Czech delicacies were popular with Americans, Czechs, and tourists alike.
Not only have Czech cafes and restaurants been embraced by a wider community, but some Czech foods have even been adopted and become staples within certain states. In Texas, one of the states with the largest Czech presence, kolaches have become so embroiled in the culture that Texas versions of them have been created. While true Czech traditionalists will scoff at the ingredients, Texan kolaches have evolved beyond the original fruit-fillings to include sausages, cheeses, and jalapenos. Other states have also created their own take on the traditional Czech food such as the rounder shaped kolaches with extra filling that can be found in Iowa.
While Czech culture and food may not be prominent on every street corner in the United States, with a little bit of digging, you will discover that Czech food certainly has its place in the United States. Whether within homes, in cafes, or adopted into new recipes, Czech food continues to be in the hearts of many within the United States.