The stature of garlic soup (Česnečka) as easy and satisfying comfort food is not restricted to its popularity as an effective home remedy for hangovers throughout Eastern Europe. Garlic soup appeals to Czech households as a delicious dish which is easy to prepare and which sparkles with health and vitality.
Czech cuisine honors garlic (Allium sativum) as one of its most popular vegetables. Between 6,500 and 7,000 tons of garlic are consumed annually in the Czech Republic. Also emblematic of the esteem accorded to the bulbous plant is the Garlic Germplasm Collection, one of the world's major collections, with 648 varieties of garlic, carefully maintained in Olomouc, in eastern Czech Republic's historic county of Moravia.
In recent years, nevertheless, the Czech Republic has been facing a challenge confronted by other garlic-loving countries such as France, Germany, and even Spain, one of the world's largest garlic producers. Competition from China's lower priced garlic is steadily eroding domestic garlic production.
- For example, in the 1990s, around 1,300 hectares (3,212 acres) were devoted to garlic plantings in the Czech Republic.
- By 2010, however, domestic garlic holdings had plummeted to less than 6 percent of their former crop grandeur, with a national allotment of only 28 hectares (70 acres).
Fortunately, the emphasis on preservation of garlic varieties offers the hope of a return to domestic production in the near or distant future.
- Garlic preserves well, in storage for hundreds of years, at cryogenic temperatures of around 200 degrees below zero.
- Thawing does not destroy its normal physiological qualities.