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.