Category Archives: Czech Republic

Lada, Hašek and Kontušovka

Josef Lada, “Sváteční hospoda“, 1932

Christmas has come early! An exhibition of the works of Josef Lada (15 November-3 February, Municipal House, Prague) With “a visual perspective ..praised by Picasso” this great Czech artist is a real treat. Josef is probably best known as the illustrator of Hašek’s The Good Soldier Švejk. Czech absinth drinkers might be interested in this note:

Charmed by Lipnice, then a community of 800 people, perched idyllically up on a hill with its 14th century castle slumped and crumbling above the gently winding Sázava River, Hašek entered merrily into village life. He enjoyed nothing more than treks through the surrounding farmland, woods and villages, or annoying the local women by dragging their menfolk to the pub, where he would stand to read completed sections of text to his audience, dictating new sections to a more sober writer. Sometimes he would simply play cards, albeit for sums of money way beyond his means. He drank copiously at the bar, chasing the locally produced beer, Lipnicée Lezák, with rum, slivovice and kontušovka; an aniseed based liquor, similar to absinthe. At the end of the evening, the wild writer had only a couple of flights of stairs to negotiate before bed.

 

🙂

Kontušovka

Emil Filla – Still Life with Absinthe & Fan?

Emil Filla

Zátiší s kytarou

A new exhibition of the work of Czech Cubist master Emil Filla is due to open at Prague Castle Riding School. Whether or not his Still Life with Absinthe & Fan (1914) will be exhibited remains to be seen. I have never seen it, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

In the meantime absinthe art lovers migh care to look at this beautiful modern piece, painted by the author of an interesting new absinthe blog:

http://www.absinthedrinkers.org/labels/art.html

Absinthe Hallucinations?

Zizkov Tower

Žižkov Television Tower

They say the famous crawling babies – on the Prague televsion tower – will start to move if you drink too much Czech absinth! Prague is full of summertime revellers right now, and the strong Czech absinth is flowing like mountain streams during the spring melt.

After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally, you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.

– Oscar Wilde on Absinthe

A word of caution from Auckland film maker James Blick

The hostel I am staying in, however, is neither magnificent nor regal. I went for the cheap dorm option, along with teams of drunk Irishmen on some sort of alcohol-fuelled “weekend-getaway” package. I seem to be the only one in my dorm who is not in Prague for the cheap beer or absinthe, and so sleeping has not been easy as highly intoxicated Irishmen stumble in at all hours, laughing and knocking over heavy things. The guy who sleeps above me came in at six this morning so drunk on absinthe that he was hallucinating and rolling around all morning.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/4120055a20517.html

The tale ends with the sight of Italian handcuffed to his bunk and a nine-millimeter revolver! The spirit of Alfred Jarry lives on 😉

Update: Apparently the Green Fairy takes her summer vacations in Portugal:

From Stuart Cullen <stuartcullen.hotmail.com>

Just a little extra info from an experienced Absinthe drinker. I have drunk three different types of absinthe (two Portugese [50% and 58% alcohol by volume] and One Czech [55% by volume]) on innumerable occasions — usually 4+ European shots a night.

In Portugal, to get its most extreme effect I was told to add sugar to the shot, light the absinthe, blow it out, drink it through a straw, cup my hand over the glass and inhale as much of the fumes as I could. I am sure this would be potent with any alcoholic drink. I have drunk stronger vodka [63% by volume] yet it has never had the effect of absinthe.

I have experienced one ‘hallucination’ — I was once positively sure that a girl was dancing beside me for several minutes when there was no-one there.

Absinth : Good news for real absinth drinkers

Absinth

Good news from the original Sebor distillery! Kyle Bairnsfather who sells 100% of his production – making his hand crafted Czech specialty a real rarity – is expanding. Due to increased demand – not least from the domestic Czech and Slovak markets – Kyle is busy expanding his production facilities. Bairnsfather products use the very latest modern filtration technology, along with the superb traditional regional mountain herbs, to produce Reality Absinth, as well as the anise rich Absinth Bitter range. The thujone levels in the latter range from 32-34 mg and hence, according to European Union regulations, are rated at the very top of the thujone scale as Hořká lihovina.

Absinth Herbs

The Absinthe Drinkers – Pijáci absintu – by Josef Čapek

Absinthe Drinkers

 

Josef Čapek (1887 -1945) is a name that every Czech knows for his beautiful illustrations. Like Josef Lada he presents a charming naive beauty to his most famous playful illustrations. The above lithograph – The Absinthe Drinkers- is obviously Cubist and dates to the period of the First Republic. Josef Čapek invented the term “robot” – see http://capek.misto.cz/english/robot.html

The photograph below shows Josef in the centre with his brother Karel and Olga Scheinpflugova. Karel, who is considered to be one of the most important Czech writers of the 20th Century, was a Czech nationalist and a critic of fascism. Karel died in December 1938, before the Gestapo could get to him. Josef was arrested after the Nazi criminals came to Prague and his life ended, along with so many others, at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Capek

For more information on Karel and Josef Čapek please visit http://capek.misto.cz

Czech Absinth Sculpture

Girl with Absinth 1924

Bedřich Stefan: Girl with Absinth, 1924

Czech Expressions

 

Cake

 

Czech Expression of the Day: Bez práce nejsou koláče. Without work, there is no cake. The cake pictured is known as a Bábovka – not to be consfused with babička (grandmother) . In Australia you can now buy a Czech made wormwood flavoured vodka named Babicka 🙂

PS: Medovnik, or honey cake, which is served everywhere thesedays in Prague, is not Czech – it’s Russian!