Chocolate: The Gateway to Culture
As someone who is interested in learning about different cultures and entertaining customs through travel, I find one of the best ways to orient yourself is by taking a trip to the nearest local grocery store.
For example, in my travels I have observed the following:
01 In Denmark and Sweden, bulk candies (gummies/small chocolate covered things/liquorice/caramels) get a lot of attention. Tthe bulk candy section in cinemas is equally impressive- Sometimes candy bins run the entire length of a wall
02 In Germany and Austria, the jam section can stretch for miles (as does the cured meat section)
03 In Poland, the dairy section seems endless
04 In the Czech Republic, chocolate candy bars rule!
The Prague: Artel Style Travel Guidebook offers fascinating cultural points and recommendations fit for the adventurous or design savvy visitor in Prague. As an expat who has lived in the city for two decades, Karen’s updated guide provides a true insider perspective and a delightful set of little known facts on topics ranging from restaurants, spas, shops, hotels and bars.
Keeping in line with the topic of this post (Chocolate: The Gateway to Culture), my favourite section in Karen’s guide has to be “A Guide to Czech Chocolate and Candy.” It speaks to me because when I travel, I like to bring back portable, non perishable treats that I can enjoy or share when I am home. For this reason, chocolate often finds its way into my suitcase.
This isn’t an ordinary go here for this chocolate and go there for that chocolate type of section. It covers the history of a variety of Czech chocolate brands along with a slew of fun, random, obscure facts like Lentilky, introduced in 1907, is just like M&Ms or Smarties or that the Krupky Velke Arasidove bar, introduced in 1972, aka peanut flavoured Cheez Doodles, are strangely addictive- Good to know!
Observations like these are gold as they help contribute to a richer learning, travelling and entertaining experience.
Let me explain:
- Had you not known that the Krupky Velke Arasidove bar is a peanut flavoured Cheez Doodle, you may have missed your chance of tasting this unique local item. When you can’t read the package due to a language barrier, taste testing new things is a gamble. No one wants a mouthful of bad gamble, so typically we don’t try new things.
- Because of the addictive nature of the Krupky Velke Arasidove bar- thanks Karen for the heads up, you decide to bring a few bars home with you for all your friends to taste. There will come a time when your guests are sitting around your table and ask you “What’s so special about this bar?” Instead of a responding with a deer-caught-in-the-headlights blank stare, now you have a story and some background information, which makes chomping on this Czech delicacy even more satisfying.
You see, these suggestions become both valuable and educational! By the way- the wafers are to die for
The guidebook also also confirms my observation that there is a disproportionately large amount of shelf space devoted to chocolate bars, candies and wafers. (You should see it for yourself, of course)
Consider yourself educated! If someone asks you about Czech chocolate this summer, now you have a clear reference source.