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Picture of the Night
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May 25, 2006
a-z tv sub i

dinner with strings attached
spanelsky ptacek (spanish bird) - click for movie of pulling the string

Places can trigger childhood
memories. So can plates.
Mirek is a good cook of
traditional Czech cuisine.
Tonight he served the
mysteriously named spanelsky
ptacek (spanish bird) which
isn't spanish and isn't a bird.
It's smashed flat beef
wrapped around a variety
of fillings--usually including
hardboiled egg, frankfurter,
pickle, onion, green pepper--
all of it held together with
toothpicks and/or string.
My mother and grandmother
used to make it, too, and I'm
taken back to the steamy
kitchens of my youth where
they would cook all afternoon
keeping themselves cool
with cucumber peels plastered
comically across their foreheads.
I no longer eat meat but I'm
too polite (or nostalgic) to refuse.
The "bird" was served in a nest
of macaroni elbows, which here
they call kolenni (knees)--the
things you learn by travelling!