Hello again my dear reader,
I was sitting in a busy cafe today having lunch and couldn’t escape from my thoughts of how different lunch time is here in Bermuda to lunch time in Prague. When we were coming to Bermuda, we were warned that things here would be expensive and this includes food. With that warning in mind, I was prepared to be making food at home and bringing it to work if there would be no choices of affordable lunch near work. But, as it turns out, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Let me explain…
In Prague, lunch times with my former office mates were a fairly mundane affair. There was one guy who always checked out all the online menus for pubs and restaurants in the nearby area, a radius of perhaps 1km. Armed with this information, this one guy would normally sound the lunch time alarm around 12 or shortly before. Now, 12 is quite early for me so, as a rule, I had lunch on my own and much later than 12. But, each time I went out for lunch, I had the same problem. What should I eat? Leaving aside the issue of affordable lunch, the selection near my former office in Prague was frankly terrible. There isn’t a single shop nearby that caters for people who don’t feel that each one of their meals should include meat. Lunch in Prague consists almost always of a piece of (debatable quality) meat covered in (fatty and oily) sauce and served with either dumplings or rice. Really, that was pretty much the only choice. For those who may want something vegetarian, there was fried cheese or fried cheese, end of story. I shouldn’t be too unfair, sometimes there were other things of the non-meaty variety but they were typically a lot more expensive than the meaty dishes and quite frankly far less satisfying.
However, when it comes to price, it has to be said that the food in Prague was cheap. You can quite easily get fed for 100 CZK (around $5) unless you go for the Czech special which is soup and a piece of meat covered in sauce and served with dumplings, in which case, you’re looking at 125 CZK ($6.5). Both of these include a drink, which was almost invariably a small glass of beer. This was dictated not just by the fact that Czech beers are among the best in the world but also by the fact that everything else (including water, yes) was more expensive than beer. No wonder the Czechs drink more beer per capita than any nation in the world!
So, here in Bermuda, I’ve only been out for lunch to two different places so far. But, the selection is just amazing and almost at a par with the selection in London, where I used to work before Prague. These places are Common Ground (a coffee and sandwich shop) and Cafe 4 in Washington Mall. Both places serve lunch for between $10 and $15 (190 CZK to 280 CZK) but it’s not just a piece of meat covered in sauce and surrounded by rice or dumplings. There is Asian food, carvery, salads that you can make yourself, fruit, juices and smoothies, burgers (including a fabulous vegetarian burger at Common Ground for $9.50, the Garden Burger), Italian food that is not covered in Eidam (a Czech cheese that is like cheese except made from plastic) and ketchup (the Czech version of tomato sauce), Sushi that is actually cheaper than in Prague, sandwiches and wraps, excellent coffee (not just instant) and many more. The selection and the quality is hugely superior to that in Prague. For me, the most important thing is that I can go to the shop and choose a salad made exactly as I want it with fresh ingredients. For that, I’m happy to pay the $9.50 that it costs.
If only I could get Czech style baked goods here as well, it would be awesome. I know that people tend to rave about French bakeries and the bread and cakes that they make. But, for my taste, you can’t do better than a good Czech bakery. There is an Italian guy at work and he, like me, is quite disappointed with the bread here, so much so that he makes his own. I guess I’ll probably be baking again also. But, at least I can finally enjoy some fresh vegetables and fruit (albeit at a slightly higher price), that alone should improve my mood over lunch time.
Tomorrow morning, there is a market in Hamilton, I intend to go. There should be loads of fresh stuff there and probably at better prices also. I’m sure I’ll be posting about it soon so check back soon for more stories from Bermuda. Take care.