Prague Christmas Carp

Christmas is almost here.  We have been keeping our eyes open for two things!  One was a restaurant to have a Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day…the other?  Watching for the selling of carp!  Carp?  The fish, carp?  Yes!  Tradition has it that carp is what Czech’s eat on the 24th, the night of the BIG DINNER!

The traditional Czech Christmas meal is fried carp, potato salad and fish soup.

clip_image001In the Czech Republic carp is bred in artificial ponds mainly in South Bohemia, and almost exclusively for the Christmas table. The most desirable weight of a carp is 2.5 to 3 kilos, and a family of four will usually buy two fish. Traditionally, the carp is sold in barrels on the street.  The carp thrash about while being weighed on scales and then are killed with a club.

clip_image001[5]Men in rubber aprons fish out the carp with a net and then weigh it and kill it for you if you wish. It’s done very quickly and the carp’s head is immediately cut off and the blood drained.

Some families, especially with little children, will buy a second live carp, keep it in the bathtub for a few days, and then go to a river or a pond in the morning on December 24 and release it back into the wild.

We were walking down a street when I glanced over and saw what appeared to be Carp Buying!  I saw big plastic buckets, men in bloody aprons and eager customers!  So we went over and watched it.  I was flabbergasted and astounded and mesmerized!  I have never seen anything like it in my entire life!  We watched customers come up an point to a fish in a huge barrel, the aproned men  caught it in a net, weighed it, and as quickly as a blink of an eye hit it over the head and slit it’s throat!  They were very quick and efficient!  While one man figures up the cost of your Christmas dinner (his calculator was inside a plastic baggie, as his hands had blood all over them), the other man starts to scale the carp.  It all is a bloody affair.  I don’t know who I felt sorriest for…the fish, or those poor men who had such cold hands!

After seeing this, we noticed these stalls appearing everywhere – outside markets, big malls and on street corners!  I think they are more now as Christmas is only a couple days away!

Here is a video Michael made:  It is a so so video, as he is still learning.  Notice one of the men stops long enough to poor himself a coffee (and later laced it with a bit of brandy!)  It IS a miserable cold job! 

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