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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Gastronomic English Lesson at The Lion’s Head

Restaurace Lvi Dvur_1The Lion’s Head restaurant (LvĂ­ Dvur) is just beyond Hradcany castle’s moat gates. The building dates to before Columbus “discovered” America. The mayor of Prague and the Czech president both call it their favorite restaurant. And today, since Prof. Kriz does a lot of his law business inside the Lion’s Head (some of which includes the mayor and the president), he wanted to take me to lunch so we could talk all things gastronomic.

The Lion’s Head has several salon rooms, whose decor can be described as “19th Century parlor” style. Prof Kriz and I had a small salan to ourselves: corner-standing grandfather clock, two plank tables from the 10th C (my guess; i’d love to have one of those puppies for a desk!), padded Queen Anne-style chairs (actually, maybe Anne herself sat in one of them), photos of Prague on the walls, fruit still-life prints over the buffet table, and windows overlooking the royals gardens. We had a couple waiters a sommelier, too. Light Jazz played over the sound system.

Restaurace Lvi Dvur_2I rolled through the terms we English speakers use when dining finely, including: “place setting”, “silverware” (same service we used in Apple Canyon for about 15 yrs), “champagne flute” (in which we began the occasion with kir royale), “ambience” (already mentioned), “warming trivet” (on which my roasted piglet lay, its skin ‘crakl’n’ just fine), “ice bucket” (in which an Austrian chardonnay chilled: “It’s not quiet cold enough, is it?” Prof. Kriz suggested. “I think it needs to cool another two or three degrees.” To which I answered: “I like my blondes chilled, but not frigid.” He got the joke.)

Prof Kriz is a genuinely warm man who enjoys keeping up with English nomenclature, idioms, and all things international. He regularly meets foreign dignitaries, and the common language is English (unless the common language is German or Russian, both pocket languages for him). I meet with Prof Kriz weekly for an hour “lesson,” which center around themes: one week, travel (Russia; the Alps; NYC; Rome); the next might be religion influence on American politics; we also discuss literature, museums, education, politics, government, and art. (In June I’m to meet the granddaughter of Alphonse Mucha, the famous Czech art deco illustrator, when she will exhibit some of her art deco-inspired jewelry design at Prof Kriz’s law office). But today was special, and I’ve learned that he enjoys opening Czech culture to me for the equitable trade of bantering about city/country/continental/world issues.

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