Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Czechoslovakia: Orphan of The Great War, 1918-1992

Czechoslovakia is one of the countries that emerged from imperial disintegration in the wake of the Great War of 1914-1918. Another was Armenia. A conflict as large as the Great War has reverberated down through the present, and Czechoslvakia, which came to being in 1918, broke in two in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Empire, another child of the Great War. But enough of war. What about Czechs and Slovaks and Moravians and Bohemians and the cuisine and culture they brought to America?

Well, I've eaten at Czech places in Illinois and Iowa and Texas, at Moravian places in Pennsylvania and Norh Carolina; and I've lived like a Bohemian, at least in the adopted sense of the word. You can get koláče / kolaches in many bakeries, Czech and German (stuffed pastries); a lot of the food seems like a hybrid of Germanic and Slavic, which makes sense given the geographic origin. Let's not forget Czech beer, which is among the best in the world (especially when it's on tap and close to the source): Budweiser Budvar (Budějovický Budvar) -- so much tastier than current watery American Budweiser it's off the charts -- and Pilsner Urquell (Plzeňský Prazdroj), "Original Pilsner." There have been breweries in the Czech old country for 900 years, maybe more.

Above poster: Contemporary Czechoslovak Posters, February 23-April 8, 1990, The City Gallery of Contemporary Art, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.  Synchronicity being what it is, I "broke up with" a Czech American in 1992/93, the same year as the so-called "Velvet Divorce" that split Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.   

Today's Rune: Breakthrough.


the walking man said...

...And Germany just this week finished paying off their reparations from that war.

jodi said...

Erik, my son's father's family is from Czeckoslavakia. Need to dig deeper into family histories. Maybe a litte this winter!

Johnny Yen said...

Two Western suburbs of Chicago, Cicero and Berwyn, had large Czech populations at one time. Cicero is increasingly Latino, like many again industrial suburbs. Berwyn is a mix of Latinos moving up into the middle class and hipsters who decided to move out of the city when they had children.

Erik Donald France said...

Hey thanks all for the comments, much appreciated~JY, one of the Czech places I really liked was (is still hopefully) in Cicero.