Yesterday I attended my very first zabijačka (according to google translate, “killing” or “pig slaughtering”?). Here’s what went down: 7 AM — the pig is killed (if you want to know, there’s a special technique used in modern zabijačka that uses a pistol to make the death as quick as possible) I, however, was warm in bed at this time, dreaming about all the food I was about to eat. 9 AM — I woke up and got dressed in my zabijačka outfit! It consisted of montérky (work overalls), a loooot of pants and sweaters (there’s still snow here!), and a zmijovka or hadovka (traditional Czech hat with snake pattern):
10 AM — I arrived there with my YEO. It was at a farm outside the town. By the time I got there, there were already about 50 people and loooots of food, buffet-style. I decided to pick a little bit of everything to taste. The way to start a Czech meal is with soup, so I picked a red soup I found that smelled amazing. This turned out to be the traditional Czech soup called prdelečka. I don’t know which one I should tell you first… that it’s made with pig blood, or that the name means (cover your ears) “ass”? But somehow it’s a diminutive form of ass, so it’s like a cute little ass… Okay Czech…
Anyway it was surprisingly tasty, and I managed a whole bowl! But don’t worry, the foods get better. After that, I started to dig into the meat samples I had picked up for myself. I was eating this one pale brown thing that looked like ground beef. It was pretty good but it had a texture that was a little unfamiliar. I asked what it was and got, “mozeček.” Okay, now what’s that? My YEO pointed to his head and said, “dovnitř” — “inside.” That’s when I understood that I WAS EATING A PIG’S BRAIN. THAT’S NEW.
Not gonna lie, it was pretty tasty. And I do feel pretty smart now. Although I have had some strange urges to roll in mud and eat slop… hmm… One of the most important skills I’ve learned on exchange: not thinking too hard about what I’m eating until it’s already in my stomach (ha ha, TAKE THAT 10-year-old Emma who lived on chicken nuggets and Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese!!!!!).
After sampling the prdelečka, mozeček, some really fatty meat that I had no idea where it came from, and even some guláš, I went out to look at how the cooks were working. When I arrived they were working on the prejt — meat to stuff the jitrnice (most helpful explanation ever, right?).
Basically they were mushing up a bunch of meat with some spices and other stuff. This meat is served in two ways: inside the jitrnice and as výpečky (which is just a pan of these meat pieces).
I went inside and had some rohlíčky (those delicious Christmas cookies I talked about a couple posts again — they had them at this and I picked them off all the plates and made myself a pile because THEY’RE SO GOOD AND I NEED TO EAT ALL OF THEM BEFORE I LEAVE THIS COUNTRY OKAY).
By the time I came back out they were stuffing the střivka (intestines) with this meat. I jumped in and they let me help separating the intestines to prepare them for stuffing. In the olden days, they would take the intestine in one hand and hold it open, then hold it in that bucket of meat and squeeze their hand so the meat went inside.
But, we’re in the 21st century, people, so we had a special machine that was made of a kind of piston that pressed the meat down and out of a tube as you turned a crank. We were really cooking along in this; one team was working on putting sticks to seal the first end of the intestine, then we would open the intestine around the hole on this machine, the guy would turn the crank, and then take it off with a little twist that kind of sealed it, and then the next guy would put in some little sticks on the end so it held.
I think they might have cooked them after that but I’m not sure. I ducked out because I heard the musicians arrive! There were a few violins, a few accordions, and a saxophone.
They started singing some Czech folk songs, and I was surprised when everyone started singing along cheerfully! I wished I knew the lyrics to sing with them, kind of to get in on the happiness, so I asked the guy next to me if he could teach me a little. He said sure, and started singing louder so I could pick some up. That’s when I realized that at that moment, everyone was singing “JDEME DO PRDEEELEEEE.” Over and over. Hard to translate, but it means something like “everything is going to $#!*.”
You know, a lot of things in the Czech Republic could be described as an acquired taste.
Then came the jitrnice and jelita!! Done!! Jelita is pretty much just jitrnice but with a different flavor that involves — yes, again — pig blood.
I did try both and have to say the jitrnice is tastier. Or maybe I was thinking too hard about the blood again. But both were served cold and if you ask me, would’ve been so much better warm. Not sure why nobody eats it like that. Now it was kind of winding down — everyone was full of meat and sweets and we were sitting around a table singing along to this folk music. A great day, a great zabijačka, and a great feast! After a while, I went back home and then took a heavenly nap.
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