The meat product pastrami, which has been popular in snack bars all over the world for years, has finally reached Prague.
Pastrami is a meat delicacy that has its origin in Romanian and Turkish cuisines. The word “pastrami” is derived from the Romanian verb “a pǎstra”, which means “preserve”. Carpathian villagers have been preserving meat by smoking since a long time ago. The Turkish meal called “pastirma” might be another predecessor of this dish but in this case the meat was dried, not smoked. However, pastrami is much more often associated with Jewish cuisine as it has become a popular kosher meal. It was introduced to the United States together with the two million Jewish immigrants who came to the country in the 1930s. They opened snack bars and specialised shops called “deli”, where pastrami and other delicacies are still sold today. Such places have always held the community together and reminded the people of their home through traditional cuisine but at the same time, they have always been opened to everyone. The family businesses are passed from one generation to another. Click on the link to learn more about one such traditional “deli” on Manhattan – Katz’s Delicatessen, http://katzsdelicatessen.com/, VIDEO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEHrI0FGOOQ
Pastrami is made from beef brisket or short ribs. Pastrami from lamb, poultry and fish is also popular, while pork is rather rare. Preparing pastrami is quite a time-consuming and demanding process. Well rested meat (if beef is used) must be brined for at least 7 to 10 days, depending on the thickness and weight of the meat. Cooks are very protective of their original brine recipes. The cured meat is cooked at low temperature and then in steam in order to get rid of the unnecessary salt and finally, the meat is smoked. Pastrami is traditionally served with rye bread, mustard and pickles (cucumbers, sweet pepper, cabbage…). In pastrami delis, sandwiches with a thick layer of meat and vegetables, dressings and other ingredients are extremely popular.
Where can I get pastrami in Prague?
There are several places in Prague, where pastrami sandwiches are served from time to time, for example at the deli Lahůdkářství Sváček, http://www.lahudkarstvisvacek.cz/ or Naše maso, http://nasemaso.ambi.cz/cz/. The only specialised deli offering a wide range of pastrami sandwiches and other delicacies in Prague is La Bibiche, https://www.facebook.com/labibicheprague. The nice small bistro in the quarter Vinohrady on 21, Francouzská Street has been opened for already two years. They offer the usual pastrami dishes with coriander and ginger mustard, cabbage and cucumbers. Apart from these sandwiches, their daily menu includes warm pastrami meals (with jalapenos, homemade truffle mayonnaise, omelettes and others), seasonal pastrami, pastrami wraps and croissants. La Bibiche is not only about meat, they also have soups, salads, homemade pies and lemonades, beers from small breweries, special wines and choice coffee espressos on their menu. The bistro also offers various vegetarian meals.