The Restaurant That Used To Be A School and The Inventor Who Never Existed

This weekend, the wife and I went back to the farm where we got married. Don’t worry, I’m not going to get all reflections on two years of marriage to a beautiful woman on you. The reason I bring it up is just to tell you about the village restaurant we stopped at during our farmland tramping:

First, if you peer first into the distance, and then into the shadows of this photo, you can see a happy co-mingling of beers and children’s toys. This is fairly typical of Czech restaurants in general, but the connection is especially striking here because the restaurant is located in an old one-room country school house. Here’s the cheery exterior:

Inside, most of the educational props are still intact…

… including the good old Periodic Table of Elements:

(For once, the Czech language isn’t made conspicuous by its clusters of consonants and scarcity of vowels.)

I ordered the traditional classic Svíčková, which Krafty once memorably described as a ‘meat Sundae’ in his one visit so far to the Bohemian lands:

After tucking in my meat sundae, I blearily staggered back inside to peer at an inscription I’d noticed on the wall inside (vaguely discernible in one of the above photos):

The text is just a nostalgic verse about when author was a schoolboy. But what’s notable is the attribution, Jára Cimrman. Cimrman (pronounced ‘Zimmerman’, like Bob) was a fictitious inventor and educator who’s become a kind of de facto Czech national hero despite never having had existed. A Zelig who’s credited with suggesting the Panama Canal to the Americans and inventing yoghurt, among other accomplishments, Cimrman is even the subject of a museum exhibition located in the basement of the tiny replica Eiffel Tower that stands at the top of Petřin Park in Prague.

This is one of the photos at the exhibit. The caption explains that Cimrman was training police academy recruits in a new technique he’d developed for approaching an armed assailant. The idea is that the criminal supposes that the figures approaching him are actually reflections cast in a body of water, so he subsequently fires over their heads. The exhibition is filled with ridiculous stuff like this– it’s fun to take visiting friends there and see how far they make it before catching on that the whole thing is 100% made up.

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