Traditional Slovak cuisine is highly dependent on rural farm elements (i.e. meat and dairy), making it more difficult to find “al fresco” meals; a typical greeting from a Slovak involves slicing a loaf of broad and eating it with salt. Cabbage, potatoes, and carrots are staples in most dishes, and salads usually consist of tomatoes, cucumber, and onions. Lunch is considered the main meal of the day, and you are always presented with a brothy soup to start.
Although quite heavy, the vegetarian dishes available are savory and delicious. Slovaks do not typically use preservatives or processed foods, ensuring that your meal is made from the freshest ingredients. It can definitely be described as “soul food”- warm, filling, and leaving you feeling pleasurably gluttonous. However, some dishes that appear to be vegetarian may have some form of pork hidden inside- I nearly made the mistake of eating a delicious-looking bread roll that contained the lining of a pig stomach. Whether you’re eating in a home or at a restaurant, make sure you ask in advance to have the dish completely sans meat. The big chain supermarkets offer plenty of vegetarian and vegan items, so you’ll easily be able to prepare food for yourself. Like all cities, Bratislava offers the most options as far as going out to eat: there are several vegetarian and vegan restaurants (http://www.veggie.sk/ , http://www.lucysveganfood.com/ , http://www.govinda.sk/govinda-bratislava/ ), an amazing raw food restaurant (http://www.restauraciabemba.sk/ ), and even a weekly vegan potluck event. All-in-all, you’ll be able to eat something tasty in Slovakia.
Dishes to Try
Bryndzové Halušky [ brin-dzoh-vay HAH-loosh-kee]: literally translated, “sheep cheese”. This is one of the national dishes of Slovakia, and is essentially potato dumplings with a delicious white cheese sauce topped with chive. It’s quite difficult to make, so we suggest finding a native to assist you (we had our friend’s mother…see recipe for story). If you’re ordering from a restaurant, make sure to request this sans meat, as it’s usually made with bacon.
Vyprážaný Syr [vee-PRAH-jah-nee seer ]: fried cheese…enough said. This is sometimes made with a slice of ham, so make sure to make the distinction.
Fried vegetables: usually made with cauliflower or broccoli florets. It’s typically complemented with a cabbage salad and potatoes.
Zapekaná Brokolica [zah-pay-kah-nah bro-koh-lee-tza] : broccoli, potato, and Edam cheese casserole. Consistent with Slovak tradition, this dish is very hearty and filling. It can also be made with cauliflower (vyprážaný karfiol) or mushrooms (vyprážané šampióny).
Potatoes: prepared in many ways and a key ingredient in most dishes. This dish was prepared by boiling the potatoes, then baking them with cheese and pumpkin seeds.
Lokše [lok-shay]: thin pancakes made from potato dough. They resemble a crepe, but taste more like a tortilla. After cooking the pancake in an UNGREASED frying pan, you can fill it with sauerkraut (cabbage). Sweet fillings, like jam, can also be used, but the former is definitely the more traditional way.
Pirôžky [pee-rohj-kee]: a deep-fried doughnut stuffed with cheese, fruit, or nuts.
Bezmäsité jedlá– indicates “meatless foods” on a menu
I am vegetarian– Som vegetarián (male) Som vegetariánka (female) [g is always pronounced as in google]
I am vegan– Som vegán (male) Som vegánka (female)
I do not eat meat or fish– Nejem mäso ani ryby [Nye-yem messo ani reeby]
I eat fish– Jem ryby [yem reeby]
I eat eggs and cheese– Jem vajcia a syr [yem vay-dzia ah seer]
I do not eat eggs or cheese- Nejem vajcia ani syr [nye-yem vay-dzia ah-ni seer]
Do you have any meals without meat?– Máte nejaké jedlo bez mäsa? [Ma(tk)ey nye-yake ye-dlo bez messa]
Can I have this without meat?-Môžem mať toto bez mäsa? [Mou-jem ma(ytk) toh-toh bez messa]
Please– Prosím [pro-seem]
Thank you– D’akujem [dyah-koo-yem]
and most importantly…
Cheers!-Na zdravie [nah zdra-vee]
A very special thanks to our good friend, Daniel Stupavsky, for his assistance with translations, pronunciation, recipes, and making unforgettable traveling memories with me. I’d also like to thank his mother, Viera Stupavska, for her hospitality and delicious cooking.