Friday, December 30, 2005

The Czech Paradox
Believe at Operetta

No one talks about the Czech paradox. We know about the French paradox. Eat all the foie gras stuffed croissants you want, and as long as you wash it down with a nice bottle of red wine (any red wine, from Chinon to Chateau LaTour), you will avoid heart disease, diabetes and other issues that plague the super-sizing U.S of A. Still, did you know that a diet of beer, more beer and a plate full of bread dumplings will keep you fit enough to join Charlie’s Angels. Don’t believe me. Visit Operetta on Fullerton between Central and Austin. After yet another delicious meal last week, I find that I must tell the world about the Czech paradox.

I am utterly convinced that the three women who are the service staff at Operetta are paid international assassins, especially the one known as “Kate.” “Yeah, Kate” I said making little rabbit fingers when one of my daughters one asked her name, spies really tell their name to whomever asks. I go to Operetta for the ample portions, the cheap imported beer, and the garlic soup (surely a top 10 Chicago soup), but I go just as much to gawk at Kate. How can I best describe Kate? Perhaps as a shorter haired version of the old Black Canary from DC Comics? Kate looks like she could dead lift 200 lbs, yet she has none of that Chyna induced bulk. She trains to keep her edge, and like her two cohorts at Operetta, she eats Czech food. Granted while the other two are sleek and slim, they are not quite as brutal looking as Kate. But remember, each member of this Fox Force Five (of course the other two are out of town on assignment) has their own special skills. They are walking proof of the Czech paradox.

Remember that everyone over 21 is expected to order a beer when seated at Operetta, either Pilsner Urquell, Staroprame (my preference) or Radegast. Each brand has its own glass that shares a common trait of being large. Most diners get more than one. In fact, I wonder when the smoking laws take effect in a few weeks, Operetta might qualify as a tavern. Soup is less de rigueur than beer but worth getting. As I noted, the garlic soup, with croutons, parsley and a sprinkling of cheese is up there with any soup in Chicago, but creamy paprika with tiny slices of hot dog like sausages, yesterday’s goulash thinned out as soup, or the chicken are all worth ordering—my suggestions being limited to soups I have tried. Entrees at Operetta come on what we Americans call “serving” plates. Still, if you think the secret of the Czech paradox is the creamy dill gravy, you should know that many an Operetta meal comes fried as well. Perhaps nothing goes better with a Czech beer than a slab of munster like cheese (that’s American munster not the smelly French munster), battered and fried and served with a mess of sliced roasted-fried potatoes. Could the secret be the “tarter” sauce many dip their cheese? It may be that certain (not all) meals at Operetta get a bit of canned peas/canned corn and carrot salad. This little bit of veg may keep Kate sharp. Not all “plates” get this treatment though. Platters of roast pork with sauerkraut or smoked butt with creamed spinach avoid these extras. More room for the dumplings. These are dumpling eatable without gravy (but who would?), yellow from a bit of fat in the dough. Better dumplings in Chicago, I do not know.

This is the fare that nourishes the team at Operetta. A diet of great beer, fried cheese, tarter sauce, mounds of meat in gravy, and lotsa bread dumplings. Visit. Eat. Drink. Observe. You too will come to believe in the Czech Paradox.