Snails for Christmas? Unusual Czech Tradition at Vinohradský Parlament

Maybe you’ve heard of Czech families eating Carp on Christmas Eve, but how about snails? Eating snails on the 24th of December was once a popular Czech Christmas tradition; one that restaurant Vinohradský Parlament is bringing back. The perfect dish for tourists who want to experience something truly Czech this Christmas season! 

Vinohradský Parlament is a traditional Czech restaurant with a twist. They serve up typical Czech cuisine, the kind of comfort food your grandmother might have made for you as a child, but with a modern touch. Czech cuisine is delicious but perhaps not the most aesthetically pleasing. Vinohradský Parlament turns this stereotype on its head with attractive “instagrammable” traditional Czech food. 

This Christmas, Vinohradský Parlament will be serving up the most traditional and unique Czech Christmas dish – snails! Head chef Jan Pípal has rediscovered the snail recipes for a new generation.

In the past, Czech families would often eat snails on Christmas Eve after taking a festive walk. However, this tradition died out during the Communist era, as it was considered to be the food of capitalists. Snails, or escargot, were seen to be a French or Western delicacy by the Communists, and therefore it was considered “bourgeois” to eat them. But snails were far from bourgeois and had originally been a cheap meal for the working class. Jan Pípal is bringing this Christmas tradition back. 

As well as deliciously baked snails and snail soup, Vinohradský Parlament also serves up plenty of other traditional Czech dishes for those who aren’t in the mood for snail. Make sure to book well in advance if you’d like to try this unique delicacy at Vinohradský Parlament. 

If you can’t make it to the restaurant, why not try and make snails from the comfort of your own home?

Jan Pípal has also advised us on how to prepare the snails at home. In France, the snails are usually prepared baked with herbs and garlic. In the Czech Republic, however, they are first cooked in a smoked beef broth and served with special garlic butter.

Half a dozen baked Christmas snails

Ingredients: 

  • Snails (6 pcs)
  • Beef broth
  • Shallots
  • Marjoram
  • Garlic
  • Thyme
  • Fresh cranberry
  • Nutmeg
  • Parsley

Instructions: 

Boil the snails in the beef broth with the herbs and then let it chill. Then prepare the butter – stir the butter at room temperature with chopped fresh cranberries, crushed garlic and salt, grated nutmeg, and chopped parsley. Put the cooked butter and snails back into the cleaned-out snail shells and smear again with butter. Finally, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and put it in the oven for about 7 minutes. 

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