The Last Bite and the Other Part of the Fish
Travel Blog • David Farley • 06.29.09 | 4:25 PM ET
Few people are lured to the Czech Republic for its cuisine, but I’m one of them. Actually, hearty Czech food is a taste acquired over time (accompanied by lots of pints of hoppy pilsner). Until recently the pub grub—rich goulash and pork made just about every way you can imagine—functioned more as stomach filler than actual taste bud pleasers. But things are slowly changing.
Prague now boasts two restaurants with Michelin stars (a first for post-communist Europe) and the country’s food has grown significantly better in recent years. I’m in south Bohemia hanging out in one of my favorite towns, Trebon, and drinking some of my favorite beer from the town brewery, Regent. The beer, called “kvasnicove” in Czech, is a light-colored, but opaque unpasteurized brew and it’s only sold at the brewery pub. But the real indicator of the evolving food scene can be found next door at Supina, most certainly the best fish restaurant in the region. Trebon is known for carp—yes, carp—and there’s a reason why most people on the planet eschew this scum-sucking fish. Fortunately at Supina there are other options. One such possibility is mlici, which my friend Milos highly recommended. He didn’t have the verbal capacity to explain what it was, so after ordering it, I pulled out my BlackBerry and looked it up. The answer? Ment. I still didn’t know what I was about to eat, so I searched further. The answer wasn’t reassuring: the testes and sperm-ducts of a fish. And in this case: the testes and sperm-ducts of carp.
I know what you’re thinking: Yum. But let me pause for a second. For the last seven months, I’ve regaled you with food-related tales from around the world, many of which were of the more adventurous variety. I’m not sure why this theme kept popping up—it’s true that I’m an I’ll-try-anything-once sort of eater, but I don’t eat this stuff to raise eyebrows. After all, there’s a reason why smoked camel penis is not a very popular meat item in restaurants. It just doesn’t taste good. And now that this is my last post, I thought it would be fitting to go out sampling one of the most bizarre things my taste buds have wrangled with.
I stared at the carp sperm ducts for a while, wondering if I really wanted to do this. I had to go through with it. I stabbed one with a fork and raised it up, so I could study the irregularly shaped, pillowy piece of taboo meat. It was coated in a sauce described only as “grandma’s recipe.” Someone’s grandma actually had a special sauce for fish sperm ducts? I stopped thinking about it too much and plopped it in my mouth. The result? Soft, as I expected, but also melt-on-tongue tender. It had the texture of seared foie gras and the slight taste of sweet breads. I doubt I’ll start seeing fish sperm ducts popping up on restaurant menus any time soon, but if I do, I won’t hesitate to gross out my dining companions.
Until then, thank you for reading this column and for not being too mean.