UNHCR’s Pro-Refugee Campaign Features Czechs

“Life or death: both of us or neither of us. That was the only thing I was thinking about,” said Josef Hlavatý while escaping Czechoslovakia with his three-year-old son in 1988 using a homemade hang-glider. His story is just one of three in UNHCR’s TV campaign ‘We ourselves were refugees’ (Sami jsme byli uprchlíci).

Read the full article on Prague.TV’s website. The best place to discover Prague, like a local!


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Edible Insects Take the Spotlight

“Now is the right time for it,” says Christoph Thomann referring to the rising insect-eating movement. “People want to change the world and help the planet: there is not enough water and we are running out of resources.

Insects are not only high in protein, vitamins, calcium and more but they are a lot more sustainable than livestock. Comparing the resources necessary to produce a kilogram of crickets versus a kilogram of beef reveals groundbreaking statistics. The production of a single kilo of crickets takes six times less food, twelve times less water and land space while producing only one ninth of CO2 emissions. In addition to this, 80% of a cricket is edible as opposed to only 40% of a cow.

Austria is ahead of many European countries when it comes to eating insects. Crossfield’s Australian Pub in Vienna serves fried crickets and the fancy Vienna Sciences Ball that took place in January had insects on the menu in cooperation with the association Speiseplan. However the situation still isn’t ideal: the laws are unclear and there are only a handful of companies in Europe who rear quality insects which results in high prices.

“The high price is definitely a limitation,” says Christoph Thomann who co-founded Speiseplan in 2014. “In the future it will be cheaper than meat – the same amount of space that holds 10-15 cows can hold thousands of insects. But while insect farming is rare and the technologies are not fully-developed, prices remain high.”

Speiseplan’s goal was to bring together enthusiasts, experts and researchers in Austria. Together with research partners, insect producers and chefs the team worked on developing insect-based food products, experimenting with recipes, writing cookbooks and organizing tastings for the public. They also organized lectures for people of all ages: adults, university students and even children as young as three years old.

“Children are the future,” says Thomann, “they will eat insects in 20 years I am sure.”

I met with Thomann at the Futurefoodstudio run by Hanni Rützler, author of the annual Food Report. Speiseplan’s first cooking class at the studio featured a part-meat-part-insect burger. Generally though, the classes teach how to replace meat with insects and use insect-based products to prepare tasty meals. For example making pancakes out of cricket flour which are as healthy as they are delicious.

“Last year we organized many events to try and change consumer behavior,” Thomann says, explaining that people respond to insects differently depending on the setting. “When it’s sold as street food, 80% are very open to it and 20% say they’ll never try it. But many of those who say ‘never’ end up with a cricket on their plate just moments later.”

Thomann guesstimates that out of 15,000 people who tried the insects he offered; only three said they didn’t like it. Cultural background and age have absolutely no effect on people’s preferences or willingness to try insects: there are five-year-olds who adamantly refuse and old ladies who come back for seconds and thirds.

“The most popular are grasshoppers and crickets,” he says, “but our most popular product is the starter-pack that includes samples of mealworms, buffalo worms, crickets and grasshoppers.”

While Speiseplan has almost two years of experience with edible insects, Insekten zum Essen was only started on January 18th: the young company, also owned by Thomann, focuses on selling edible insects. Part of their plan is to visit restaurants and see if their clients will be interested in seeing insect meals on the menu.

Eating insects is a hot topic and has been receiving lots of media attention lately which helps spread awareness. But more research needs to be done to develop the insect-rearing processes and other aspects of entomophagy. Thomann points out that the bug-eating community in Austria is a nice small group that cooperates, shares information and meet annually to help each other grow.

“It started when my friend came to me with the FAO article when it first came out in 2013,” recalls Thomann. “My first reaction was shock combined with a big yuck factor: I was a typical Austrian who didn’t want to eat bugs. Then I read more about it and learned about the sustainability and nutrition. Since then I can’t stop working on insects!”


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Good Friday: Czech Republic’s New 13th Holiday

January 1st was a night of celebrating the New Year and Restoration Day of the Independent Czech State, but once the fireworks died down and people opened up their 2016 calendars, they realized that 5 out of the 12 official bank holidays are on the weekend.

Read the full article on Prague.TV’s website. The best place to discover Prague, like a local!


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Entoview with Woven Network

Woven Network CIC (Community Interest Company) is the brainchild of Nick Rousseau, has just launched and functions as a hub for the Insects as Food & Feed sector in the UK. Nick joins us to explain a bit more about what they aim to do.


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Vietnamese Cuisine in Prague

Vietnamese cuisine is known mainly for their pho soups and tasty spring rolls that are widely available as fast food. Since the Vietnamese make up the 3rd largest minority in the Czech Republic, their cuisine is fairly common all over the country. Prague especially has a wide selection of tasty Vietnamese restaurants, bistros and fast foods.

Read the full article on Prague.TV’s website. The best place to discover Prague, like a local!



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How to get Your Criminal Record in The Czech Republic

Getting a criminal record in the Czech Republic is simply unavoidable regardless of: citizenship, amount of time lived in Prague and level of dislike for bureaucracy. If you are applying for/extending a residency permit, need to get a trade license(živnostenský list) or applying to certain jobs – you will be asked for an extract from the criminal register.

Read the full article on Prague.TV’s website. The best place to discover Prague, like a local!


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A Reverse Revolution: Edible Insects to Start in The Kitchen

“We want the revolution to start in people’s kitchens” says Julia Kaisinger passionately. “We want the consumers to have full control.”

Julia Kaisinger and Katharina Unger are the co-founders of Livin Farms and they are contributing to the entomophagy revolution with the Hive: the world’s first desktop hive allowing people to farm edible insects in the comfort of their home.


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Mealworms? Disgusting! – an international sample from Prague

When I tried my first mealworm at a food festival in Prague, I was hooked. Many of my friends, however, turned up their noses and had strong negative reactions – despite knowing little about the topic. Fascinated by their adamant attitudes, I went on a mission to find out why exactly my friends from around the globe find the concept of eating insects so disgusting.

An abundance of large centipedes on a stick and black spiders that look hairy even after deep-frying can be seen at Wangfujing Street, a famous shopping area in Beijing. While attracting adventurous tourists and seasoned locals, eating insects is far from normal for most Chinese, including my 24-year-old friend Stella from Wenzhou City in the Zhenjiang province.

“I guess the only situation where I would eat them is if I didn’t know they were bugs,” Stella told me. “The presentation of them is very disgusting and so is the presentation of the food. I can’t even look at the pictures of those bugs being cooked. None of the people I know eats bugs.”

The first time I visited Stella’s house she offered me a plate of duck beaks, so I knew she wasn’t squeamish, but after clicking through photos of these stalls, I understood why she is scared of trying insects: they are intentionally presented for shock value. Growing up associating entomophagy with that extreme image in mind, it is difficult to shift your mindset to consider insects as a healthy and sustainable dietary supplement.

Chinami, one of my best friends since middle school, was born Northeast of Zhenjiang in Anjo, Japan, less than six hours by plane from Stella. Her family had introduced me to Tamago Kake Gohan, rice with raw egg, which was the first time I stepped outside my food comfort zone. She claims that she wouldn’t eat bugs unless she was starving and had no other option. Ants, locust, hornets, bees and other insects are known to be eaten in some areas in Japan and while they are easier to come by than in the West, the tradition is slowly disappearing and eating insects isn’t very common anymore.

Chinami tells me that if she was a typical Japanese person, she might eat bugs as long as people around her ate them. Yet when asked about what could convince her to eat them, she didn’t turn to social factors, but aesthetics: “If bugs had a better appearance then it would be much easier. After all, we eat other animals.”

I believe appearance plays an important role in gastronomy, especially when it comes to new and exotic dishes. 27-year-old Hussein from Egypt appeared quite surprised when I asked him about eating bugs. Attitude towards bugs has changed a lot since Ancient Egypt when the dung beetle was worshiped and scarabs were given for luck.

“I have this mental picture of a cockroach coming out of the sewers or a bug flying over trash. Most of the time, bugs seem to be roaming around touching everything, but if I was starving to death I would definitely give it a chance,” Hussein says with a grin.

While it seems like some people in Western Europe are curious about trying bugs, many, like 36-year-old Pablo from Málaga in Spain, are resistant. Pablo loves to organize international dinners, brunches and he loves to bake cakes – but bugs are never on the menu.

“If I couldn’t see them and I didn’t know they are there, then I would eat them of course,” Pablo says, making me immediately think of cricket powder. The impression I’m getting from my friends here in Prague, no matter where in the world they come from, is that their disgust mainly comes from seeing bugs and imagining them in a certain way. This makes me think that people would be much more willing to try bugs if they were in a processed form. Talking to my colleague and frequent lunch buddy Cindy, my hunch is corroborated.

“I probably ate so many bugs throughout my life because I didn’t notice them,” the 26-year-old from Hof, Germany, says as she struggles to keep a straight face. “If they were to heal me from a terrible disease, I would eat them without thinking.”

Maria from Tallinn, Estonia, is a year younger than Cindy and the two young women have similar opinions about eating insects. Maria told me that if they were prescribed to her by a doctor or if they were recommended as a way to improve her health, she would give them a chance. Her point shows the importance of educating people on health benefits of entomophagy.

“My knowledge of bugs is limited,” says 25-year-old Robert from Iaşi, Romania. He told me he would need very specific information before trying them. While he orders bravely from a Czech menu that he doesn’t understand, he’s more cautious when it comes to bugs. “I wouldn’t know if I was eating some kitchen cockroach, which is probably unhealthy and tastes horrible, or if I was eating something good.”

Most of my friends were amused, laughed at my questions and made grossed out faces – but not everyone finds eating insects disgusting. Unsurprisingly, someone from a region where it’s more common gave me a more positive response. Kwadwo from Ghana considers eating bugs natural. Kwadwo has a more informed opinion than the others, and maybe that’s why his attitude is more positive. He points out that they contain lots of proteins and spoke seriously about the topic.

Having talked to my friends from Europe, Eastern Asia and the Middle East, it seems to me that the most influential factors in turning a naysayer into a bug-eater are the appearance of insects as well as learning about their health benefits.

So maybe, once people become more and more informed, they will change their attitude about entomophagy, and we will find ourselves living in a world where guests in a restaurant will complain to the waiter about NOT having worms in their salads.

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Prague is full of great places to go and fun things to do. Quiz nights are great if you want to try (and learn) something new. In general, quiz nights are very chill, have fun hosts and exciting prizes. Quiz nights can introduce you to expats, locals, Einstein-prodigies and regular people who just want to have some fun. The best part is rich choice of venues to choose from.

Read the full article on Prague.TV’s website. The best place to discover Prague, like a local!


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