Last year, I visited a Middle Eastern restaurant in Prague with my close friend and travel partner, who was about to depart back to the states. Perhaps it would have been more appropriate to send her off with a classic Czech meal, but being vegan, there wasn’t a single Czech dish she could eat. Plus, the traditional cuisine is – well, “not my favorite” would be putting it kindly.
My culinary experiences in Turkey and Israel provided me with an introduction to the brilliance of Mediterranean flavors. I was struck most by how clean the the tastes were – liberal use of olive oil was often the only flavor needed to enhance the chosen ingredients. I’ve particularly enjoyed recreating many traditional dishes in my own kitchen – with my own spin, of course.
Back in Prague, landlocked as we were, my friend and I decided to send her off with a tasting journey to the south. On our trip together to Istanbul, we had received many complimentary mezze plates, attributed to “Turkish hospitality.” [Although, it was likely due equally to fascination with two young women traveling alone, and my friend’s blonde hair]. After much debate at our Czech location, we chose a vegetarian mezze platter, taking us back to those opportunities to sample bites of many dishes.
If only I had been a food blogger then, I could have drawn even more attention to us with a photograph. When the waiter appeared, every eye in the restaurant turned on us, as we sat back in our chairs and aided the server in pushing the salt and pepper shakers to the table’s edge. The platter was so monstrously-sized that it spanned a greater length than the table provided. Overwhelming, to say the least.
Over a long dining experience, we nibbled and tasted, working our way through marinated vegetables, falafel balls and dolmas, dips of hummus and baba ganouj, bowls of tabbouleh, wedges of warm pita. With olive oil and garlic seeping through our veins, we were certainly well fed. Awkward as it may have been, it is one dining experience I won’t soon forget.
Have you ever received something unexpected in a restaurant?