USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Rizek’
Foodways
Material

Řízek

Interviewer: You said you had a family recipe?

Informant: So you take a piece of meat, usually it would be turkey or pork, but it could be whatever honestly. A lot of people use chicken. You first flatten it out by hitting it, so you basically make it into a flat piece of meat. Then, you have three key steps.

First, You have flour. You put the meat into the flour and cover it all with flour. Then, there’s egg, beaten, you cover the whole thing in the beaten egg. The final step, you cover the whole thing in breadcrumbs, that you would traditionally make yourself from old leftover bread. Then, you fry the whole thing, flip it in the middle of the frying process.

Interviewer: Then serve?

Informant: Yeah, then serve. Usually you would serve it with mashed potato and a pickle.

Interviewer: You said your family modified the recipe a bit?

Informant: Every family does it a little different. What changes usually is the type of meat people use, whether or not they add other stuff to the mix. Maybe herbs or something, each family uses different things. Furthermore, you could not use meat at all. A lot of people just use different vegetables and make this recipe with them, which strays further away from the original recipe but, it’s still a variation that’s common. Personally, me and my family use turkey. We think it gets the most tender during the frying. Also, we add a few small pieces of rosemary into the batter , not a lot, but enough for it to be noticed.

Context: My informant is a nineteen year old Czech national attending school in the United States. He’s lived in Prague for most of his life, and Czech is his first language. The interview was conducted face-to-face in a college dorm room.

Background: My informant was taught how to make Řízek by his grandmother while back home in Prague. He likes Řízek because Czech cuisine is a fusion of German, Austrian, and Slavic cuisines, and as a result doesn’t have many uniquely Czech dishes. My informant told me that, because of this, Řízek is considered a sort of “national dish” in the Czech Republic, and is thus close to his heart. My informant himself has made it many times, and considers Řízek one of his favorite dishes.

Analysis: Usually, recipes don’t strike one as the material for folklore, but Řízek is an excellent example of the malleability and word-to-mouth nature of cuisine. The dish apparently had origins stemming from Italian “chicken parmesan”, but used flour and breadcrumbs to make up for a lack of flour. From there, ingenuity led to it further being changed, to the degree that the meat, herbs, and even recipe of the batter itself are subject to interpretation. Řízek is a dish of variation, everyone makes it differently. I also found it interesting that the dish was considered uniquely Czech. Considering that the Czech Republic is still a young country, it appears to be a valuable source of national pride. One might note the use of folklore in this instance to reinforce a nationalistic attitude.

 

Foodways
Legends
Narrative

The Origin of the Řízek

Interviewer: So you just gave me a recipe for… I’m not going to try and pronounce it. You said you also have a story about its origin?

Informant: Yeah, during some battle of the Austrian-Hungarian army in Italy, the general that led his battalion there from the army saw the locals making some sort of food where they would take a piece of meat and cover it in parmesan and fry it. He thought, “well how could I recreate this for our emperor when we don’t have parmesan back home?” So, when he got back from the war, he had the chef at the royal palace recreate the recipe and that’s how this recipe came about

Interviewer: I assume the general was Czech?

Informant: Yeah, yeah.

Context: My informant is a nineteen year old Czech national attending school in the United States. He’s lived in Prague for most of his life, and Czech is his first language. The interview was conducted face-to-face in a college dorm room.

Background: My informant probably learned this story from his grandmother. He remembers it because Řízek is a traditional food that every Czech person knows how to make. He places great importance on this story because it disputes the Austrian and Hungarian claims to Řízek, a food widely considered by the Czech population as their national dish.

Analysis: I personally find this legend very believable. Řízek the food closely resembles chicken parmesan from Italy, and the story itself is quite believable from a historical sense. The Austro-Hungarian army was in Italy, and a general would conceivably had seen the traditional Italian dish prepared. From a more objective perspective, this story legend is also interesting because, despite being a Czech legend, it refers to a time period before the Czech people had an actual sovereign nation, but is still used to reinforce the claims of the Czech people on Řízek.

[geolocation]