Read This Now: Tereza Jarnikova – Mapping culture divides in a Czech village
So yeah, I’m obsessed with the Czech Republic, but with good reason. This hidden gem of Europe (right alongside its cousin, Slovakia) has one of the most fascinating cultures I’ve ever encountered. Between Communism, Vaclav Havel, joining the EU but not adopting the Euro…Czechs have a very diverse albeit tumultuous history that is worthy of more study. Every time I see something like this I sink my teeth wholeheartedly into it.
I sit at their kitchen table, listening to Rodney talk and taking in my surroundings. Jana’s house is a mix of traditional Czech mountain hut and musher’s house. Familiar Czech household items fill the kitchen: the shelves hold blue and white porcelain jars with their contents — Oil, Sugar, Marjoram — inscribed in painted script, and there are decorative ceramic plates on the wall, as well as an old clock that chimes every quarter hour.
Tereza Jarnikova is a super talented writer. I like how she delves into Czech culture in a way that is not only understandable for those not familiar with the subject, but she presents views that go beyond “Which beers to try” or “Czech foods that are fun.” I believe she is a native-born Czech or at least second generation, which is even cooler.
He asks me how I hold my knife and fork — the Czech way, or the American way? — which brings back memories of being scolded for improper fork technique by a particularly strict teacher in Czech grade school, Mrs. Frigid. At one point I say fuck, which Rodney enjoys — “It’s so nice to hear someone swear in English! Jana told me Czechs don’t have swearwords. I’ve found out she was lying, though.” This much is true — Czechs actually have far more swearwords and are much more diverse in their profanity than English speakers.
Czechs are constantly dealing with this idea of “national identity” – an examination of Czech history shows how screwed up people have made them. When Communism ended, the city of Prague was inundated with Westerners looking to revive the country. McDonalds, Nike, Starbucks and other conglomerates have set up shops and the glory of the 1990s is still alive and well. Younger generations are speaking English fluently while older generations struggle to preserve their native tongue. Mapping culture divides in a Czech village is an excellent portrayal of these scenarios and worthy of reading if only to learn more about Czech culture in the 21st century.