Today was one of those days where I realise that although I’m feeling more and more comfortable here, I’m still a tourist by most standards.
It’s Saturday, much too cold to do anything really exciting, I’ve spent most of the morning playing video games, and decide I could do with a walk to get some fresh air and stretch my legs. I throw my thermals on, grab my phrasebook just in case, stick my beanie on, and head on out. It’s 2:30.
There are 2 main shops in the village that cater to general needs: a general shop similar to a spar or coop in the UK, and a mini-mart near the school that’s a little pricier and has far less in stock. I’m after some orange juice, and then I’ll see what I can buy with the change I have left, maybe some tuna and a jar of mayonnaise, so I can make tuna-mayo pasta some time in the week. Nothing exciting, but it makes a change. If I were at home, maybe I’d pick up some coffee, but coffee seems to be the one thing here that is extortionately priced in relation to everything else. A jar of Nescafe will set you back around 150kc (about a fiver,) for which I could buy 15 bottles of Staropramen or ‘proper’ Budweiser.
The village is quiet most of the time, but seems doubly so of the weekend. The cold weather probably helps in that regard, when it’s -10C outside going for a stroll isn’t an inviting prospect, but I’m greeted with absolute silence when I go outside, and it’s much this way until I reach the village square, which is quiet but does have a few people waking around and the odd car driving through. Cross the road, go through the first set of doors at the shop and walk up to the inside set of doors. It looks very quiet inside, and I imagine myself as Alan Partridge when he has his local Tandy closed to the public so he can shop in peace.
Then I try to open the door, and it’s locked. Step outside, and see that the shop closes at 2pm on a Saturday, and is shut all day Sunday. That’d explain why it’s so quiet.
Tourist-idiot lesson learned: small villages don’t pander to your big-town ideas of opening hours and busy lifestyles.
Defeated, I walk to the mini-mart. They don’t sell orange juice, so I search around for something else. I pick up some cheese, can’t go wrong with cheese after all.
I think Hermelin means cheese because it seemed to appear on a lot of different cheeses (edit: just checked, it means ermine, which according to google is the white fur of a stoat. Guess this is referring to the rind on the cheese?) and I guess Kral Syru is the chap that made the stuff. It looks like camembert, and camembert is definitely one of the popular cheeses here, second to edam in terms of how readily available it is in shops. Camembert is my favourite soft cheese, hence me choosing this.
The first thing I noticed is how thick the rind is. Camembert always has a fairly substantial rind on it, but this seems to be almost twice as thick as I’ve seen at home. I don’t mind that, but I know a lot of people do, and if you’re one of those people you can typically buy a rind-free version here that’s essentially a cheese spread.
The cheese itself is pretty nice. For a camembert it’s not particularly strong-tasting, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The rind being as thick as it is, it does have a bit of a taste to it, but it’s not overbearing. One thing to note is that I tried this on its own and on some rye bread, and I think it definitely would be nicer with crackers of some sort. Though this cheese is made in the Czech Republic there isn’t anything that makes it seem any different to a French Camembert, apart from being a little milder.
I paid something in the region 25kc for this, which isn’t bad value. I’m not sure it’d be much use as a day-to-day cheese to keep in the fridge, but it’s a nice change at the weekend. Salty cheese and rye bread go very well with Czech beers, a good combo if you’re watching a football/rugby/ice hockey/whatever game.
Verdict: Not bad!