Z kuchyně přátel. Česká společnost a kulturní transfer z gastronomií SSSR a zemí sovětského bloku (1948–1989)
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Fraternal Cuisine: Czech Society and Culinary Transfer from the USSR and Other Countries of the Soviet Bloc, 1948–89
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The gastronomic discourse in Czechoslovakia from 1948 to 1989 took a special form under the infl uence of the Communist régime, in particular targeted State intervention. Among its features was the excessive promotion of ‘rational nutrition’, while its opposite (especially in the 1950s), haute-cuisine , was squeezed out. Throughout Europe in the second half of the twentieth century cultural transfers in gastronomy increased in intensity and this trend partly affected Czech gastronomy as well. The article considers the question of what role the cuisines of the ‘fraternal countries’, that is, the Soviet Union and the rest of the Soviet bloc, as well as Yugoslavia, played in these transfers. Cultural transfers in gastronomy occurred in three closely linked forms. First, there was the publication of recipes and articles related to the culinary arts, some of which included recipes from foreign cuisine in material consumption norms. The second important factor was personal encounters with foreign cuisine when travelling or at home thanks to visits and sojourns by people of other nationalities. In addition, restaurants specializing in foreign cuisine were established. The third form of gastronomic cultural transfer resulted from the importation of foodstuffs. In all three types of transfer, the cuisines of the fraternal countries of the East bloc were given preference. The structure of imports was clearly subordinated to the continuous shortage of hard currency. The large volume of tourism from one East bloc country to another far outweighed travel to the countries of the West. Ideological preferences, particularly in consumption norms, were also reflected in the availability of literature related to gastronomy. But by far not all cuisines of the East bloc countries were promoted, or received, in Czechoslovakia to the same extent. Most impulses came from Balkan and Hungarian cuisines, while the fewest came from East Germany. The transfer of different kinds of dishes from the Balkans and Hungary appears to be an ideologically contingent innovation; but a comparison with the situation in Austria in the same period indicates that one should be wary of simplistic interpretations. The greatest difference between Communist Czechoslovakia and the countries of western Europe with similar systems of alimentation is probably best reflected in the smaller size and slower diffusion of culinary transfer from capitalist countries, for example, Italy or the USA. After the Changes of late 1989, the politically motivated preference for the cuisine of East bloc countries vanished and in the Czech Republic gastronomic trends similar to those in other European countries have since become established. Nonetheless, traces of the influence of ‘fraternal cuisine’ have remained, particularly in cheap restaurants and offi ce, factory, and school cafeterias.
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