Chlebicky – Czech Open-faced Sandwiches
Each chlebíček, open-faced sandwich is a single masterpiece, applied art at its best. They are easy to find: all delicatessen or delis whether in the centre or elsewhere in Prague have a large choice of chlebíčky. They are the ideal snack any time of day and cost next to nothing.
What is a Czech open-faced sandwich?
A Czech open-faced sandwich consists of a slice of soft white bread resembling French baguette topped with any number of ingredients. The slice of bread is spread with soft cheese or potato salad and then garnished with origami folds of thinly sliced ham or salami, smoked salmon, egg slices and small gherkins. The result is a piece of art delicious to eat.
Who invented the Czech open-faced sandwich?
The Earl of Sandwich invented the sandwich in the eighteenth century. The Czechs have had their version, chlebíčky, since the early twentieth century. The open-faced Czech sandwich was invented by Jan Paukert or so it was claimed. An artist was working on a huge painting and had to step down from his ladder every time he felt hungry. Jan Paukert presented him with a slice of white bread spread with potato salad and topped with sliced salami: a snack which fitted in the painter’s hand so that he could work and eat at the same time. This open-faced sandwich became a huge success and Mr Paukert opened the first deli shop, lahudky, on Národní Třída near the National theater in Prague. Jan Paukert died in 2010 aged 91. His deli is now a restaurant with the same name but without chlebíčky.
Chlebicky are easy to make. Here is the recipe.
Photo Marianne Crone