November is not the most cheerful month in Prague, weather-wise. The temperature hovers around the freezing mark (0 degrees Celsius), the skies are often overcast, and the air is damp.
Bazilika svatého Petra a Pavla
Somehow the grey skies, chill air, and still winds of November reflect a particular part of the history of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia: the stoic endurance of not-quite-perfect conditions. For many centuries after the Golden Age of Charles IV in the 14th century, this part of the world was the scene of civil wars, religious wars, invasions, conquests, and lack of political autonomy.
But the people did not give in or give up. In their hearts, they remembered their glorious past and hoped for a restoration of those days in which beauty was created, not suppressed or destroyed.
Prague is a living museum to the achievements of the people living here over the centuries: Czech, Slovak, Polish, Moravian, German, Vietnamese, Silesian, Jewish, Roma, Rusyn, Hungarian, Russian, Roman…
I made some attempts at Czech cooking while living in Prague, but found it easier, in the long run, to go to a pekarna (everyday bakery) for bread, cukrarna (sweet-stuff bakery) for cakes, or simply a restaurant (pivovar, restaurace, bufet, or the like) for those rich, satisfying Czech meals.
Kristyna, a Czech-born woman in California, is doing her best to help me cook authentic Czech cuisine here in the USA. She has a Facebook page which is brimming with recipes and tips. She also has the kind of cheerful personality that makes most people want to run to the kitchen and cook (though I know that I have neither time nor inclination to get involved with all those ingredients).