11 November Goose Red Cabbage and St Martin Wine
If you are in Prague on 11 November and you like to eat goose, you are in luck! Goose is on the menu of almost all restaurants on this special day. It is also the day when the tasting and sale of Svatomartinske vino, St. Martin’s wine, begins. A Beaujolais Primeur the Czech way. Drink it while it is young as it does not keep. On November 11 at 11 am, 11 bottles of St. Martin’s wine are opened in wine cellars and wine bars throughout the Czech Republic and of course also in Prague.
Svatomartinska husa or Saint Martin’s goose
On November 11, the menu features: goose with red cabbage and knedliky. This is a tradition in Prague and throughout the Czech Republic. But why?
Martinus (St Martin) was a Roman soldier and lived in the fourth century AD. One freezing day in November, he rode with his men near the city of Amiens in France. A scantily-dressed beggar sat in front of the city gate, begging. Martinus felt sorry for the man, grabbed his sword and cut his precious cloak into two pieces. He gave one half to the beggar, the other he kept for himself.
That night Martin dreamed of the beggar and saw in him the figure of Christ who addressed him saying: ‘I was naked and you clothed me.’ Martin left the army and converted to Christianity. He traveled through Gaul (modern France) to proclaim the word of God.
Martin chose a life of modesty. When his superiors wanted to appoint him bishop of Tours, he refused because he wanted to live in austerity. He hid in a goose coop while they were looking for him to appoint him bishop. However, the geese made such a noise that he was found. He accepted office, became Bishop of Tours and founded the Abbey of Marmoutier, the first monastery on French soil. He died on 11 November 397.
Tradition of Carving the Goose
The Czechs do not waste any of the Saint Martin goose. oose liver is eaten as a starter and the offal is made into soup. The goose is served with red cabbage and knedliky and young red St. Martin’s wine accompanies the meal.
1. The servant lowest in rank got a wing so that he could fly while working, a higher-ranking servant received a thigh and the boss kept the best piece for himself.
2. The skin of the goose feet was placed in shoes so that the feet would not sweat, or between the toes so that corns would not develop.
3. The goose carcass predicted the weather for the coming winter. White bones meant a cold winter with snow and dark bones meant warmer weather with rain and lots of mud on the land.
The Czechs associate St Martin’s day with the beginning of winter and snow. There are many proverbs in Czech, which contain predictions for winter weather. According to the most popular saying, the first snowfall of the season can be expected on this day.
Goose On the Menu
Every restaurant in Prague offers the same menu on this day: goose leg from the oven with a nice crispy skin, served with red cabbage and potato dumplings, served with St. Martin’s wine.
Two special restaurants to eat St. Martin’s goose and drink wine
1. Cellarius is a wine bar and club in Prague, but also a shop specialized in more than 1000 wines from all over the world, Mediterranean specialties such as olive oil, all kinds of vinegars, olives, salami and cheese.
Cellarius has two branches: one in the Lucerna Passage in the centre of Prague and the other in the Vinohrady district.
Address: Lucerna Passage, Stepanska 61, Nove Mesto and Budecska 29, Vinohrady
2. Triton Restaurant is located on Wenceslas Square. The interior is surprising. You dine in a cave consisting of stalagmites and evocative wall decorations. This is the place to be on 11 November. Triton is highly recommended because the goose tastes just right, not too dry and not too fatty. f you don’t like goose, order a la carte.
Address: Wenceslas Square 26, Nove Mesto.