Monday, November 12, 2012

A Džbánek for the Road

Czech beer pitcher or džbánek
St. Martin's day and wine go hand in hand, so today I thought I'd give beer its equal due. The pitcher above is a Czech beer pitcher, or džbánek, handy for carrying tapped beer home from the pub.

When we first arrived, low these many years ago, it took a while to get used to seeing liquor in the grocery store, beer drunk openly on the sidewalk, and kids eating dinner with their parents at our local pub (or hospoda). This was all very refreshing after growing up with blue laws and red dot stores. What really got our attention though were the beer pitchers. We'd see people head into a hospoda with pitcher in hand, then walk out a few minutes later, the pitcher (or džbánek) brimming with beer. Our friends told us that if we kept an eye out, we'd even see children fetching beer home.

I've got enough Victorian left in me to say that I'm glad I've never spotted a kid on beer duty,* but we do have our very own džbánek now. I found it in a bazaar tucked behind the theater on Náměstí Míru. The old pitchers stand in a long row in the bazaar, just above the beer glasses and brandy snifters. They're usually ceramic, and come in varying sizes. Ours holds four beers (or 2 liters) and is a hefty weight when it's full. Luckily there is a pub on nearly every street corner in Prague, so the trip home is never long.

*According to our babysitters, children stopped carrying beer home before the Velvet Revolution - but you still see references to kids buying beer in books and movies. (Thanks Anne!)

9 comments:

tuckova said...

One of the Czech board books that K inherited (you know the ones that fold in a sort of inexplicable half-accordian and half... I don't know what? Folding them was half of the reading time) had illustrations of things that good children and bad children do, and one of the things that you were cautioned not to do was drink from the beer pitcher as you carried it home. I was like: So THIS is what raising a bicultural kid is gonna look like.

Julia said...

I would love to see that illustration!!

Mame said...

I don't expect it is the case in all pubs but there are pubs here in the US where you can have your growler filled with beer to bring home. Here is a link to a photo of a growler: http://tinyurl.com/ax99r2k

I'm sixty, when I was a child (50's early 60's) some parents would send their children to the store of beer or cigarettes. I don't know when that practice went out of vogue.

I had never heard of St. Martin's Day and I very much enjoyed learning about it. Thank you.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

You have the best holidays ever.
I'd adore a place where you can go for tap beer on the run like that.

Julia said...

Mame - I'd never heard of a growler, thanks for posting that link!

GG - raising kids in a city motivates me to search out all the fun holidays and activities around, I do love it too, especially as we get to celebrate both US and Czech holidays.

alice c said...

What a wonderful story. I suppose that it would be possible to collect beer from pubs but the licensing laws in the UK are so relaxed that it is more practical to go to the supermarket.

I have a lovely blue and white pitcher but I am not letting it out of my sight and especially not with a small child.

Roderick Robinson said...

You do not mention whether these shameless boozers drink straight from the pitcher or whether glasses are provided. There's a long, long post to be written about the effect an inappropriate container can have on what's drunk. I mean one can hardly imagine ingesting a martini from a Blahnik or a Jimmy Chu. Hmmn, when've time...

Julia said...

Robbie, we bring the just tapped beer (delicious as long as the pipes are clean) and pour from the jug into half liter beer glasses, generally fresh from the freezer!

Rouchswalwe said...

I'm way behind ... catching up on your goings-on in Prag! A beer pitcher! It reminds me of the beer can vending machines in western Japan. Anybody was able to buy cans ranging from 100-1,000 ml. But a pitcher is a splendid idea. It means you have to drink the beer while it's fresh and carbonated (I'm assuming that there's no lid). I buy ale from a local brewery in growlers with swing-top caps, which means that they can be kept unopened for several days in the fridge. Here's what it looks like: http://5fingerplatz.blogspot.com/2012/07/ein-halbes-ma-bier.html