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Prague: ARTĚL Style

Expert recommendations and insider tips for first-time visitors and locals alike from ARTĚL’s founder, Karen Feldman, who has lived in Prague since 1994. Click on the links below for detailed reviews – from Feldman’s own unique perspective – of all the best that Prague has to offer...

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Tossing Doughnuts…With Permission

Published on November 20th, 2014 in Dining & Drinking

  • Saturnin's Bowl, c.2002 (photo credit: Zdeněk Tichý, www.lib.cas.cz/tichy/koblihy.html)

  • Saturnin's Bowl, c.2002 (photo credit: Zdeněk Tichý, www.lib.cas.cz/tichy/koblihy.html)

  • The famous Café Imperial (photo courtesy of www.hotel-imperial.cz)

  • Vintage photo of the café (photo courtesy of www.hotel-imperial.cz)

  • Saturnin Poster, 1994 (photo courtesy of http://img.radio.cz/)

 

The Imperial Hotel Café has gone through many changes since opening in 1914; newly refurbished in 2007 and helmed by Czech celebrity chef Zdeněk Pohlreich, today it’s a wonderful place to dine, as I mention in my book. Back in the mid-2000s though, it was a bit of a risky place to visit – there was always a chance that you might get hit by a flying doughnut! Why would such an esteemed café promote such a juvenile activity? We turn to the 1943 Czech novel “Saturnin" for our answer. Written by Zdeněk Jirotka. fans of P.G. Wodehouse will recognize the storyline; a faithful servant, Saturnin must manage numerous and comical tasks for his young employer. The first chapter of the book assess three types of café-goers depending on their reaction to a plate of doughnuts: those who look at them, those who fantasize about throwing them, and those who actually “give the doughnut wings”.
 

But it was the 1994 Czech Television mini-series of the same name, shot in the Imperial Hotel Café, that immortalized the “doughnut war” in one of the movie’s most famous scenes. Thereafter, the “Saturnin’s Bowl”—a huge bowl of day-old doughnuts—could be purchased for the symbolic price of 1943 CZK to lob at fellow patrons of the Grand Café downstairs.
 

Sadly, the tradition was not carried on after the café reopened. But those fans of Czech literary comedy can still enjoy the adventures of Saturnin; it was translated to English in 2006.

 

Imperial Hotel and Café

Na Poříčí 15, Prague 1, Nové Město
www.hotel-imperial.cz
hotel tel +420 246 011 600
www.cafeimperial.cz

café hours Mon-Sun 7:00-23:00
café tel +420 246 011 440
metro Náměstí Republiky
tram 8, 24, 26 to Náměstí Republiky
 

 

 

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