“Jak se máš?”
I pause, trying to repeat my answer exactly as I’ve just been taught.
“Dobře,” I reply.
We giggle. Close enough.
When you step up to the window of Katrina Hodny’s food truck, you might just get an impromptu Czech language lesson. The The Czech Wagon riffs on Czech home cooking with hearty dishes that combine favorites like Leo’s potato dumplings, shredded pork, tangy sauerkraut and rich, silky butter and gravy — and throws in a few surprises.
Immigrants from Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) brought their cuisine to North Dakota during the land rush in the 1870s and 1880s. Katrina’s ancestors were among them. She’s the fifth generation to live on the family farm in Lankin, North Dakota, northwest of Grand Forks.
Her relatively unadorned white food truck serves most of its customers in Lankin and in surrounding Walsh County. The food is home cooked and served by family members with a hearty dose of fusion and fun.
“I say we’re Czech-wegian,” laughs Katrina. “Dad’s half and half. He’s always having that battle within himself. I claim my Czech roots mainly because I love savory foods.”
Katrina at work
Customers with Czech and German heritage love the nod to their roots — especially sauerkraut dishes, which they say brings them back to their childhoods. The potato dumpling bowl (shown at the top of the post) is a best seller. It features thick, dense Leo’s Potato Dumplings (another Lankin favorite) heaped with sauerkraut, shredded pork and gravy. This ingredient combo also shows up in the pork sliders.
Katrina’s fondness for savory flavors isn’t limited to Czech cooking. The pork that graces almost every Czech Wagon dish is reimagined as a topping for Asian Pork nachos. Fusion goes a step further with a vegan option — a falafel waffle with arugula salad — that at first seems like a bit of a wild card on such a pork-heavy food truck.
Falafel Waffle, photo by The Czech Wagon
I wasn’t initially sure if it’d be worth trying, since it didn’t include the elements the truck is known for. It took me exactly one photo to change my mind about that.
Thankfully, The Czech Wagon will be in my neighborhood for a few more days. Katrina and her crew will be at the Fargo Food Truck Festival though August 20. And they’ll be back in Fargo for the Island Park Show on August 26 and 27.
If you can’t make it to Fargo on those dates, you can always make a pilgrimage to Walsh County. Or drop them a line for catering and have your own private party.
And definitely ask about those Czech lessons. Because you’ll definitely want to learn how to say “yum” and “thank you.”
Asian Pork Nachos
The Czech Wagon
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