As part of that whole ‘try not to assume anything’ mantra that’s necessary when living in a foreign country, it fits the best I think when someone invites you to do something with them some evening or weekend. You never ever know what will happen. Yesterday, Pavla invited me to come to her neighborhood of Poruba after work because it’s got some interesting architecture. It is technically part of the city of Ostrava but if this were the U.S. it would be a suburb; it was a 35 minute bus ride. Honestly it was the best day I’ve had here yet. It was full surprises and interesting people.
We started looking at the architecture and the dramatic juxtaposition of pre- and post- Soviet rule. It’s the difference between functional drab vs. bright, colorful, and full of 3-dimensional design (pics later in another post). I met Alexandra, photographer, director of international studies in the Fine Arts department, and mother to 5-year old Luna who also joined us. I also met Kate, an adventurous storyteller from Ireland who is here for a semester to study art and frankly is a hoot. At some point we were no longer in the city but walking through the woods while Pavla told me about the wild pigs that lived there in large numbers.
Kate, Pavla, Alex. I can’t for the life of me take a decent photo with my new Czech cell phone, so this is the best I’ve got.
Then next I knew we were crossing a field of…turnips? Radishes? Rutabaga? Something like that. Kate told us how the Czechs laugh at the Irish for eating them because here they are food for cows.
All I know was that there was a well-trodden very lumpy path across this field in the middle of nowhere that ended with a small but popular pub. So I guess it is a thing in Poruba to walk through the woods and turnip fields for a beer.
I got to try the famous Olomouc cheese that is supposed to be so stinky that only the courageous will try it. They eat it on bread with raw onions and butter. The cheese is kind of liquidy around the edges and looks like under-cooked egg yolks, though it deceptively firm when you eat it. It comes in slices in a cylinder and then it is soaked in beer. It was really good. But the onions were stronger than the cheese, in my opinion.
We stayed there til after dark and I still had no idea what was next. Going home? No. We walked again through the woods in the pitch dark while I thought about wild pigs. We ended up at Pavla’s home where we were invited in by her husband Peter. He didn’t say a lot – I think maybe he was less comfortable with English, but he smiled a lot and poured us drinks all evening.
Pavla and Peter are beekeepers on the side, but she said at one point had so many bees they harvested 4 TONS of honey. That sounds like more than a hobby. So naturally we had honey cake and home-brew honey herb mead. And all kinds of other interesting foods and drinks and dried fruits – I don’t even know what I was eating or drinking. I can’t wait to go back and explore Poruba again.