In December, the whole country turns into a winter wonderland. Every city, town, or village gets its own Christmas market stands and lights up a Christmas tree on the main square. In bigger towns, you can actually visit markets from the end of November, and they usually last till the first two weeks of January so that you can enjoy all the goodies from the markets a bit longer. So what is the taste of Slovak Christmas?
Christmas is definitely a holiday for all the meat-eaters out there. What is really typical for the winter season is the goose. People eat goose, especially on New Year's Eve, together with red cabbage and lokša (potato crepe). And since people in Slovakia don't like to waste anything, they use it too, to make a spread from goose liver. However disgusting it might sounds, it is delicious, and you eat it with lokša as well. I recommend you try it. You can also buy different kinds of home-made sausages at the market or very popular is also a pork knee- or just any kind of grilled meat- with lots of onions, called cigánska.
Probably the most favorite vegetarian Christmas market dish is langoš. It actually comes from Hungary, but the Slovak cuisine is influenced a lot by our neighbors. Langoš is a deep-fried sourdough, and you can eat it with almost everything, for example, sour cream, garlic, and butter, or ketchup with cheese. Creativity has no limits here. Another popular Christmas treat is a traditional smoked sheep cheese called oštiepok with a cranberry sauce, served on a toast. Yum! And also, you can try, for example, lokša filled with sheep cheese, cabbage, sugar and poppy seeds or jam. It is very recommended!
There are a lot of delicious Christmas treats you can buy. If you are looking for something that is edible but can also be used as a gift or a Christmas decoration, then you can buy a gingerbread, for example, shaped into a heart with a Merry Christmas sign. Also, when you walk through the markets, you probably smell sugar and cinnamon. Well, this mouthwatering smell comes from a 'chimney cake' called trdelník. It also finds its origin in Hungary, but in Slovakia, everyone says it was invented in Slovakia, and Hungary just copied it. I guess we will not find the truth. It is best served hot, straight from the grill.
You don't eat those dishes in a restaurant, to get into the true Christmas spirit, you must enjoy them in the cold, snowy weather, outside at the Christmas markets. The most beautiful markets are definitely found in the Slovak capital, Bratislava. The good thing about the markets in Bratislava is that they are all eco-friendly. You will pay a deposit for a reusable cup and, finally, no plastic cutlery or trash! The biggest Christmas market is at Hlavné námestie, in front of the old town hall. But don't limit yourself only to Bratislava. Lovely Christmas markets are also in Košice, at Hlavná ulica, the longest pedestrian area in Slovakia, or in Nitra, in front of the main theater.
Goose, lokša, oštiepok or trdelník...that is what Slovak Christmas tastes like. Christmas markets tend to be very crowded because it is everyone's favorite time of the year, but without so many people, it wouldn't have such a magical atmosphere. If you have a few glasses of mulled wine, you won't mind those crowds at all. You will warm yourself up and enjoy the festive season.
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