THE RESTAURANT “U KALICHA”
This gastronomic oasis and the meeting place of fine tasters from all over the whole world didn’t always look so romantic as it does today. The restaurant conceals legends but also historic truths. In the period of the influence of “Švejk” (read: Shvayk) – accordingly before the First World War – the gastronomic as well as social level, upon which we had become accustomed in “The Goblet”, was quite different.
Let’s begin with the story!
“The Goblet” in the days of the “Good Soldier Švejk” was a completely ordinary, uninteresting, run-of-the-mill bar-restaurant in Prague.With today’s uniqueness and the originality of design there is no comparison with the past. Unfortunately no photo documentation remains. The concept “Restaurant ‘The Goblet’ ” first became a focal point of international attention after the translation of “The Good Soldier Švejk” (The author: Jaroslav Hašek) into German and the opening of the theater performance of this work on the stage of the world famous Piscator theater at Nollendorfplatz in Berlin in the year 1927. The German producer, Erwin Piscator, helped “Švejk” to break through onto the international literary scene.The theater production of Piscator first awakened interest in Russia. Afterwards England, France, Italy and other countries soon followed.In the course of time “The Good Soldier Švejk” became part of world literature. In opposition to several, well-known legends, Piscator never looked for “The Goblet”, since he was never in Prague. That smoky and dirty bar became, in spite of itself, already in the 1930’s of the twentieth century, an object of curiosity by several locals as well as foreign publishers and personalities of the time. Men of letters and artists from Germany, who were visiting the “racing reporter” Egon Erwin Kisch, expressed their wish to visit the restaurant. At this time apparently the Soviet General Shaposchnikoff was a guest…
At any rate it appears necessary, to let the historical existence of the persons, whom Jaroslav Hašek describes in his work, appear in light of the truth. The restaurant “The Goblet” belonged not to “the restaurateur Palivec”, rather to a certain man named Shmied, also known as “The boor”. Palivec worked there only as a part-time waiter.Mrs. Müller was not the “house servant Švejks”, rather the brothel madam in the house of ill-repute, which was located in the same building.In reality “Švejk” was Francis Strašlipka (a servant of Lieutenant Lukáš). In the restaurant “The Goblet” he was a regular, but most of all he was interested in the “contents of the house of ill-repute of Mrs. Müller…”
For the gastronomic and social standards of today, the building was first re-modeled in the 1950’s.Already at that time “The Goblet” was a sought out, culinary goal of the people of Prague, as well as foreign tourists.To get a place here without reservation was pretty much impossible. In the year 1992 the original owners – the brothers, Paul and Thomas TÖPFER – got their private place back from the State.With their exemplary industriousness and willingness to make sacrifices the two of them have resumed the culinary tradition of the Bohemian kitchen in the restaurant “The Goblet”.
A final comment:
Whoever wants to get to know the originality of the Bohemian kitchen and to taste the well-tempered beer has to find their way here. The whole thing is here, on the grounds of “The Goblet”, where “The Good Soldier Švejk” (Strašlipka) found their beginning.
The author of the book “Die Abenteuer des gar nicht so braven Humoristen Jaroslav Hašek” (The Adventures of the not so brave humorist Jaroslav Hašek), 4tf edition, publisher HERBIA, České Budějovice 2002. The 4th edition of this book appeared with the friendly support of the German-Czech Future Funds, and one can purchase it right in the restaurant.