Masopust – Bohemian Carnival

Masopust Dancing

It’s Carnival time in the Czech Republic. Masopust in the local language, is celebrated, mostly in villages, around the country. Needless to say, Prague has a grand event for tourist each year. Masopust kicks off the Lenten season and bids farewell to meat till Easter. Being an outdoor carnival people brave the cold to dress up in costumes and parade through the streets. Traditionally the merry makers dance and sing, make noise and revelry from house to house. The owners of the house are obliged to offer a drink of beer or plum brandy along with sausages and sweets.

Pork festivals take center stage at Masopust. Sausages are grilled on grates over open fires. Gulas simmer in pots and head cheese is prepared in advance for the festival.  Potatoes are boiled in their skins and handed out as a hot snack.

Masopust sweet breads are Bozi Milosti  (God’s Grace), koblihy, sisky, listy and Bavorské Vdolky  (Bavarian Donuts)

If you visit a Masopust celebration in a small village you might be lucky enough to enjoy a glass of homemade wine or sip a shot of domestic liqueur (Domácí likér y černého jeřabu) that a village housewife prepared.

 Homemade Spiced Black Choke Berry Liqueur 

  Domácí likér y černého jeřabu

Ingredients:

  • 2 liters (2 quarts) choke berries without stems (Aronia)

  • 0.5 liters (1/2 quart) of Tuzemak or rum

  • 2 cloves

  • piece of cinnamon bark

  • 1 star anise, is not required

  • 2 teaspoons ground coffee

  • 0.5 kg (1 pound) of sugar

  • 0.5 teaspoons of citric acid

  • 1 liter (1 quart) of water

Method:

  • Wash choke berries.

  • Combine 1 liter of water, choke berries, spices and coffee and to a boil.

  • Boil 30 minutes, let cool partially.

  • Strain mixture through a fine sieve or coarse cloth.

  • Add sugar and cook until its dissolution.

  • Let cool completely, add rum and citric acid.

  • Mix thoroughly and pour into clean washed bottles.

  • Cap bottles and allow to rest for 4 to 5 weeks before drinking.

 Aronia, or choke berries, are deciduous shrubs in the family Rosaceae. They are most commonly found in wet woods and swamps. Choke berries are cultivated as ornamental plants and also because they are very high in antioxidant pigment compounds, like anthocyanins. The name “choke berry” comes from the astringency of the fruits which are inedible when raw. The berries can be used to make wine, jam, syrup, juice, soft spreads, tea and liqueurs.

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