Help Cooking Kids Make Their American Debut

Chefs at work

Chefs at work

In 2015 the Cooking Kids, a culinary competition for school-aged children on the national level,  enters it’s fourth year in Slovenia, that Gem of a Country nestled in the niche between Austria and Italy.  The program is gearing up and now underway for 2015 with local competitions which turn into regionals, semifinals and the final competition  held the end of April or beginning of May.

Slovenia at the Heart of Europe

Slovenia at the Heart of Europe

This is the second year that the Weston A. Price Foundation, the largest not-for-profit nutrition education organization in the world will be one of the financial sponsors for Cooking Kids. Sally Fallon Morell, the Prsident of the organization, says that the Weston A. Price Foundation” is proud to be a sponsor of Cooking Kids, a program very important for not only Slovenia, but for families everywhere.”

Artisan producers, local farmers, and Slovenian food producers provide the ingredients; teachers, chefs and restaurateurs  mentor, teach, provide their kitchens and contribute to the children’s culinary education. Supportive parents donate their time encouragement and energy. It seems as if the entire country is involved. Cooking Kids events are covered by the national media.

Cooking Kids

Cooking Kids

The “Cooking Kids” program developed by Anka Peljhan is a brilliant strategy

Anka Peljhan, Director of Cooking Kids Program, Kuhna pa to

Anka Peljhan, Director of Cooking Kids Program, Kuhna pa to

to introduce cooking skills to our youngsters as well as emphasize the use of healthy, local, and natural ingredients.  Not only does the program foster self- confidence in the kitchen, but also team work among members.  It also ensures that Grandma’s recipes for traditional foods which are part of the national heritage, will not only be preserved , but will become a part of family meals again.  The children find that the ability to cook is greatly admired, especially among those of us who like to eat well.  They also learn home gardening in the program.

Cooking Kids Finale 2014

Cooking Kids Finale 2014

If you have traveled to Slovenia on the culinary tour, Taste of Slovenia, you experienced first-hand the high quality food products of this food-loving culture.  In 2014, the Cooking Kids demonstrated their skills for our group and served them tasty samples of authentic cuisine bites at the Ljubljana Castle on the first night of our tour.

Anka Peljhan & Sylvia Onusic with Cooking Kids at Ljubljana Castle

Anka Peljhan & Sylvia Onusic with Cooking Kids at Ljubljana Castle

These days cooking has become a lost art and many families survive on fast  junk foods that are quick and easy.  The results in the US and the rest of the world are apparent: rising rates of obesity, diabetes and cancer, among even the youngest children.  People are unwell and medical costs are soaring. Autism rates stagger higher each year.  In America, genetically modified foods and toxins are everywhere in the food chain. The Cooking Kids program can start to change that- it’s a model than can be adopted in an country.

The group has been invited by the Slovenian Embassy in Washington, DC to come to America and demonstrate their culinary skills at the European Union Day (E.U. Day) on Saturday, May 9, 2015  from 10:00 to 4:00 PM.   THE KIDS ARE REALLY EXCITED TO COME.  The Embassy is located at  2410 California Avenue NW  in Washington DC. Last year 4000 people attended the EU Day at the Slovenian Embassy, which was voted “the best open house” of all embassies in an informal poll.

Sylvia & Ambassador at EU Day 2014

Sylvia & Ambassador at EU Day 2014

Slovenian Embassy in Washington, DC

Slovenian Embassy in Washington, DC

But to fulfill their dream of coming to the U.S., the Cooking Kids need funds for airfare, food and travel.

Won’t you contribute and make their trip a reality?

It’s easy !  Please contribute the dollar amount of your choice. If you have a  PayPal account,  click on the Cooking Pot on the right side of the screen, wait a moment…and then select the personal payment for friends and family option.  You can also open a PayPal account easily.  You can also contribute by money order, or personal check. Please make check out to University Research Associates and send to: 1602 Kent St., Portage, Pa 15946. In the note line at the bottom left of the check, please write: Cooking Kids.  For every donation Cooking Kids will send a personal receipt for your tax records. For any questions, please email us at cookingkidsus@gmail.com

A cookbook has been published (in Slovenian language) for each season of Cooking Kids 1-2-3-showcasing the recipes prepared during the competition.  We are planning to translate the cookbooks into the English language.

Home Cooking Season 1

Home Cooking Season 1

Cookbook Season 1 Home Cooking Cookbooks 1-3

Please consider joining us at the Slovenian Embassy on EU Day May 9, 2015 and  meeting the Cooking Kids.

Thank you for investing in our children.

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Slovenia Rich in “truly organic” Local and Seasonal Produce

Asparagus

Asparagus

Stanko making frittata

Stanko making frittata

 

 

From April through May it’s asparagus time in Slovenia and I arrived just in time this year to catch the end of the harvest.  Many home gardens have their special patch of asparagus to supply the family.  I ate egg frittata rich with asparagus and melissa (lemon balm) leaves prepared for me by my friends Stanko and Ksenija, at their home just outside Ljubljana.

Slovenian roses

Slovenian roses

Their home garden is truly a marvel. On the Taste of Slovenia culinary tour, which ran from May 30-June 9, we visited their garden and saw how much can be planted in a small space without sprays. We picked red raspberries, currants and were treated to a champagne at their backyard dacha!  The backyard garden contains gooseberries, cherries, grapes, figs, and a vegetable garden with lots of lettuces, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and herbs, not to mention numerous flowers.  This was truly the year of the roses and peonies in Slovenia.

Peonies

Peonies

 

After asparagus season the cherry season starts. I and my guests ate as many cherries as possible while in Slovenia- organic cherries- almost unheard of and hard to find in the US—with very fond memories. They begin to ripen in Goriška brda in the Western part near Italy in April and continue ripening eastwards until the end of June – on our Taste of Slovenia culinary tour we picked cherries at Orlie from low hanging branches in the orchards, then enjoyed cherries on a picnic lunch with our friends.   We also saw branches heavy with cherries in the Karst at the Skerlj estates where  we sampled prosciutto and teran wine. Our hostess, Milojka Skerlj, invited us to pick cherries there as well.  Here, daughter Irena is serving us some of the famous charcuterie… if you look carefully, you see the cherries on the table.

Irena Skerlj with guests

Irena Skerlj with guests

Cherry trees at Skerlj Farm

Cherry trees at Skerlj Farm

Later cherries- called Visnik or “sour cherry, ”  made into juice and preserves were available at end of June- thus rounding out the cherry season.

Making cherry juice at Mis Farm

Making cherry juice at Mis Farm

For a double delight, in addition to cherries, I was literally stuffing my face daily with glorious red raspberries from bush to mouth – there was no middleman- from mid June on.

THE SECRET OF A PEST-FREE GARDENS

Marjan's  Garden

Marjan’s Garden

The miracle to me, was that not one destructive beetle nor pest attacked the fruits.  What is the secret?  Lots of compost, a huge diversity of produce in one small space, flowers, daily care and lots of love.  I saw so many bees on lavender plants near the raspberries that it made me smile… there is no shortage of bees in this Slovenian garden.  We visited some home gardens. Our driver, Marjan, invited us to visit his home garden and to eat the fruits. Nothing fresher. There were strawberries, currents everywhere, lots of lettuce, fruit trees, grape vines…even a small chicken coop, and the cat in the garden.

Garden cat "guarding" his chickens.

Garden cat “guarding” his chickens.

On the day I was leaving Slovenia at the end of June,  my guests received a box of organic apricots from a family member living in Goriška brda.  Figs were also ready and I tasted my first green fig when visiting the Sutor winery in Vipava Valley at the end of June my last day there.

Figs-- Wikicommons

Figs– Wikicommons

A fig tree at the entrance to the winery tempted us to sample the first figs of the season.  One warning from my Slovenian friends… open the fig first, just don’t jump head and bite into the fruit… a wasp maybe hiding inside. I also tasted the first maribella of the season which are small yellow plums.

Despite the tragic “zled” (ice storm) of February 2, 2015, the fruit trees from the Western parts of Slovenia were unharmed and delivering their delights of the season right on schedule.

So sad to leave this organic spray-free heaven I departed, planning my return as I was packing my bags.   I just love this place.

More about Isadore, Malojka and daughterIrena Skerlj and their bed and breakfast, farm, pigs, charcuterie and wine making in the lovely Karst village of Tomaj, see the New York Times story. “Tasting Slovenian Cuisine Right at the Source” by Hannah Wallace. I understand that Irena is a fantastic cook.

 

 

 

 

Posted in beverages, Cherries, Family Skerlj, Goriska brda, Itinerary, Karst, Local and seasonal fruits, Orlie, Prosciutto, The Vibrant Slovenian Food Scene, Tomaj | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cviček, the Charming Wine of Dolenjska

 

Cvicek

Cvicek

Cviček is one of the most unique and charming wines in Slovenia.  The secret is in blending various reds (modra frankinja, žametna črnina – 70 per cent) with white varieties (kraljevina, laški rizling, rumeni plavec, zeleni silvanec – 30 per cent) which gives an attractive, light red color with a slight ruby cast, and fresh fruity aromas, with an emphasis on raspberry, cherry and red currant.

Cviček, called “The Baby Maker, ”  is a dry wine, with low alcohol volume. It’s  an everyday wine, and can appear in a sparkling variety.  Also easy and fun to drink, it goes well with meat and cheese.

Janez Vajkard Valvasor, the great Slovenian historian, mentioned “Marwein,” a jolly wine of the Dolenjska region, in his work ‘The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola’.  He stated that this wine is grown in Bučko, Trška gora and Vinji vrh.

On our Taste of Slovenia tour this year we have several occasions to Cviček- at a picnic at a vineyard cottage in the same Turska gora hills as Valvasor mentioned, and at a Slow Food venue, the Ostarija, in the spa town, Dolenjska Toplica.

Cvicek grapes

Cvicek grapes

Since 2001, this jolly wine is made only in the Dolenjska wine region. It’s protected with the mark of a recognized traditional denomination (PTP).  A consortium of 11 top winemakers produces between one and a half and two million liters a year.

Because of its many antioxidants, phenols and flavanoids, as well as low sugar content, Cviček has been recommended as a health drink.

Cvicek Country

Cvicek Country

There is even a Cviček Queen crowned every year.   Dr. Janez Bogataj, the Slovenian Super Star of  Slovenian Traditional Foods and Wines, recommends tasting Cviček in the region of  Gadova pec whose symbol is an asp (gad).

The Gad of Gadova Pec

The Gad of Gadova Pec

Throughout the hills and winding roads of this area there are little cottages, where on the Fall weekends, the grapes are harvested and Cviček is bubbling with good cheer. Cviček… we salute you!  Nazdravje! To Your Health !

Announcement where cvicek is being poured.

Announcement where cvicek is being poured.

To see more: http://www.slovenia.si/visit/cuisine/wines/cvicek-the-giant-of-dolenjska/ 1/2

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Highlights of Taste of Slovenia May 30-June 9, 2014— You still have time to join us.

Farmhouse in Bled

Farmhouse in Bled

The Taste of Slovenia 2014 tour has many new food experiences this year and offers the opportunity to meet the local people who are producing real and artisanal foods.  The tour has a few places still available for interested persons. If you have been thinking about coming on the tour, you still have a chance to join us.

It’s truly amazing that such a small country as Slovenia offers so many new food venues to be discovered right around the corner which are absolutely unique.  Even though it may be just over three hours from border to border, the geographical variation of Alps, mountain plateaus, valleys, seaside, plains, caves, and lake districts, offers many different terroirs which incorporate into a palette of tastes.

Vesna, chapter leader

Vesna, chapter leader

First of all, we congratulate the first Weston A. Price Foundation chapter leader in Slovenia, Vesna Velišček, who will meet our guests at a reception the first night of the tour at the Ljubljana Castle, which is reached by means of a funicular railway (vzpenjaca). Vesna is a real food blogger at ” Slocally, Experience Slovenia with the Locals”  http://www.slocally.com/ holds herbal walks, salve making and culinary classes.

New experiences on our tour include:

Vineyard Cottage- Zidanica

Vineyard Cottage- Zidanica

A picnic at a vineyard cottage, zidanice, which are native to the Dolenjsko region and are a vibrant and beloved part of the wine culture and tradition. The wine grown here is a ruby-red cviček like beaujolais but made from indigenous grapes with very low alcohol. Physicians recommend this wine for its high antioxidant properties. Cviček perhaps embodies the very soul of Slovenia.  The vines are terraced high on the hills.

In the days of the Turkish invasions, people escaped to the hills where the invaders didn’t follow, building small houses. The tradition remains and the cottages now house the equipment for tilling the vineyards, making wine, and escaping from everyday village life far below in the valley. The cottages are alive with weekend parties and celebrations in the Fall, and picnics in the summer.

Cooking Kids

Cooking Kids

–The “Cooking Kids“ will demonstrate their culinary skills at opening night of the tour May 30, 2014 at Ljubljana Castle. The Weston A. Price Foundation supports “Cooking Kids,” a competition in its third year among grade school and middle-school teams intended to teach culinary skills and knowledge of traditional foods. Founded by Anka Peljhan, the program has become a national treasure.  www.kuhnapato.si

terrace otocec swan- otocec–On a visit to Castle Otočec, the only water castle in Slovenia, we have a tour, a stroll, share a beverage on its sunny terrace. The Count will meet us and tell us about the history of the castle.  The Castle swans greet us as we arrive at this beautiful place. Please read my blog on Castle Otočec here: http://wp.me/p18oI1-dc

–Taste of Slovenia guests can relax at the Dolenjska toplica, one of the oldest mineral water spas in Slovenia known for its healing properties. In addition to the three indoor and outdoor thermal poor, the spa includes “Wellness Balnea” which offers many treatments including chocolate and honey massage, mud therapy, grape leaf wraps, Finnish and Turkish sauna, as well as medical rehabilitation. Cosmetic treatments are available by prior arrangement. http://www.terme-krka.si/en/dolenjske/ and http://www.terme-krka.si/en/dolenjske/predstavitev/zgodovina/

Osterija Inn

Osterija Inn

–After an afternoon of thermal water, where better to refresh and recharge than at the Ošterija a small inn in the village near to the mineral spas where the food is Slow, well made and delicious, and wait staff and chefs are friendly and helpful. https://sl-si.facebook.com/Ostarija

–Skerlj prosciutto is made in the old, traditional way in the small village of Tomaj. The farm is the subject of an article in the New York Times, “Tasting Slovenian Cuisine Right at the Source.” http://nyti.ms/1rtOsQk

–Our water tour of Piran Bay Dr. Irena Fonda will pick us up at the pier  in Piran with her new solar-powered boat, Inti  to tour the family fish farm and nearby salt flats. After our water excursion, we have lunch at the Salt Flats sampling sea bass carpaccio prepared by Irena and, as a main dish, grilled Piran Bay brancin with plenty of local lemons.

Replica of Roman Image found in Ljubljana

Replica of Roman Image found in Ljubljana

–In addition we have a chance to celebrate the 2000 anniversary of Emona ( Ljubljana) with a Taste of Emona menu and torch-light tour of the old Roman Emona during a very special celebration. From my Taste of Slovenia blog: “Ljubljana Celebrates 2000-year anniversary as Roman Emona” http://wp.me/p18oI1-et

Hiking on the Velika Planina by our group

Hiking on the Velika Planina by our group

Velika Planina herders huts

Velika Planina herders huts

Making traditional trnic cheese with "pisava"

Making traditional trnic cheese with “pisava”

–Also new is cheese making at Velika Planina. This year we visit the Planina, the highest mountain plateau in the Slovenian Alps where we learn how to make the herder’s cheese trnic. Please read my blog about the Velika planina: “In the Foodsteps of Weston A. Price,” http://wp.me/p18oI1-cw

–After our cheese making at the Planina, we refresh at a local inn to sample the traditional “Taste Kamnik” food menu. http://en.kamnik-tourism.si/index.php/taste-kamnik/

Rinka Waterfall

Rinka Waterfall

Up in the Clouds

Up in the Clouds

Bed and Breakfast

Bed and Breakfast

Savinja High Alpine valley for our overnight in quiet majesty with the opportunity for hiking to nearby Rinka Waterfall and raw milk cooking lessons with Marjana at the Bed and Breakfast.

–A visit to an organic farm in the Barje, a distinct marshy plain with its own plants and wildlife, a true rarity in Europe today. We will taste the organic cold- pressed oils from hemp, rapeseed, walnut, and pumpkin seed. The farm also produces organic flours; as well as charcuterie from home-grown goat and donkey meat.  Trnulja Farm can be accessed by boat on the Ljubljana River.   http://www.ljubljanskobarje.si/?lang=en; http://www.trnulja.com/en/trnulja-home.php

Come join us.  For more information please contact sponusic@gmail.com or http://www.facebook.com/tasteofslovenia.  Cost of the tour is $2198 which does not include airfare.

Posted in Cvicek wine, Itinerary, Otocec Castle, Otocec Swans, Plansars - Herders, Roman Emona, Slovenian Foods, Slovenian Wines, Taste of Slovenia Food Tour II, The Vibrant Slovenian Food Scene, traditional foods, Traveling to Slovenia, Trnic cheese, Velika Planina | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beverages in Slovenian Language

In Slovenia people are very fond of their beverages.

Good Morning!

Good Morning!

Coffee-  Kavo.   There are many kinds of coffee that can be ordered at  a kavarna,  the elegant coffee/pastry shops which are very popular. My favorite coffee place is located on Slovenska cesta, the major avenue  in Ljubljana. It’s called “Zvezda” and located at the Hotel Slon. Slon means elephant. It seems that at one point in history an elephant, part of a circus, was camped on this site.  My favorite coffee is “belo kavo, ” which is a “cafe au lait” coffee with milk.  It is served with a glass of water and a small chocolate. Travelers commenting on Trip Advisor overwhelmingly recommended Zveda as a good place to get excellent coffee and service.

Wine.  vino.     There are many excellent wines in Slovenia and these are available at a multitude of places. To find a bigger selection you can visit the “Vinoteke”  wine shops which are located around the city–there are many in the Old Town.   Wines

Brajda

Brajda

brajda na Dolenskemare also available at Maximarket complex near the Slovenian Parliament.  My favorites are too many to tell but definitely “Brajda” from the Goriska Brda wineyard, Stekar, is high on the list. (shown here). Brajda are the three-sided wooden frames which resemble the walls of a house. Grapes grow on this frame year after year and it provides shelter from the sun in summer months.

Slovenian wines

Slovenian wines

Radenska Mineral Water "Three Hearts"

Radenska Mineral Water
“Three Hearts”

Mineral waters- mineralno vodo– are served with lunch and dinner and are a favorite on the Slovenian table. Three hearts – Radenska is a favorite, also available in the U.S. at Wegmans stores on the East Coast.

Donat is a high magnesium mineral water considered important for health. It is also the remedy for constipation and sleepless nights. It works. The physicians prescribe bottles of it for patients undergoing a colonoscopy.

Donat mineral water, high in magnesium

Donat mineral water, high in magnesium

Slovenia has  15 natural mineral spas and the water from each location contains various blends of minerals.  in the 19th century, immersion in mineral water was an effective treatment for high blood pressure.  Mineral spas are affordable and part of many Slovenians health regimen.   On our Taste of Slovenia tour we will spend several luxurious hours at the Dolenjska toplica spa, not far from the Castle Otocec, which I wrote about earlier.

The tap water is Slovenia is generally good. It is not fluoridated and has a good taste. It is referred to as water from the pipe, “pipa.”

Automatic Milk Machine "Mlekomat"

Automatic Milk Machine
“Mlekomat”

Raw Milk on tap. At the “mlekomats,”  the automatic raw milk machines in the market places, shopping centers and in the center of towns, fresh milk can be dispensed in different quantities into glass or plastic bottles. One liter (similar to a quart) costs about 1 Euro= $1.39 cents. All from local farms.

Juices. Sokovi.

Slovenian Cherries

Slovenian Cherries

Cherry, apple, even elderberry are popular.  Also from the fruits come vinegars, liqueurs and brandies.

 

In the Slovenian Alps

In the Slovenian Alps

That’s the beauty of Slovenia… it’s small so you can travel from here to there in a short time and the country is a veritable masterpiece of culinary and cultural experiences, from the Alps in the North to the seaside in the West, to the plains in the East, and the caves in the South, all offering a distinct and unique terroir.   Bordering on Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia,  Slovenian as a home base offer  multilingual opportunities at its borders to include some other countries in your travels.  Yet, Slovenia gives the most value for money and prices are still very reasonable for the traveler in the country “at the Heart of Europe.”

Slovenia at the Heart of Europe

Slovenia at the Heart of Europe

 

 

 

 

Posted in beverages, mineral water, Radenska mineral water, Slovenian Wines, Taste of Slovenia Food Tour II, The Vibrant Slovenian Food Scene, Traveling to Slovenia | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Ljubljana Celebrates 2000-year anniversary as Roman “Emona”

Ave Emona !

Replica of Roman Image found in Ljubljana

Replica of Roman Image found in Ljubljana

Guests on the Taste of Slovenia tour this May-June 2014 will be present for a once-in-a -lifetime event: a Celebration of Two Thousand Year of Emona- the Roman name for Ljubljana. The Romans considered the present Capitol of Slovenia, Ljubljana,  a worthy site, and founded a settlement here in 14 AD which was a strategic stronghold and important early center of Christianity.  They fortified it with massive town walls and paved streets,  some of which still exist.  In its heyday, Emona had a population of around six thousand people. Ljubljana lay in the path of the Amber Route, a vibrant trade route which which connected the eastern Baltic area with the city of Aquileia on the Adriatic coast.  Amber in Slovenian language is “jantar.” Yes, THE ROMANS WERE HERE TOO. The Romans and their legacy in Ljubljana will be the theme of a vibrant program of events to be held starting Spring 2014 through 2015,  when Ljubljana will mark the 2000th anniversary of the foundation of Emona, a Roman city located on the site of present-day Ljubljana. Many Roman artifacts have been found in the Capitol and in other cities and hamlets throughout Slovenia as well.  This year the town is geared up to celebrate its very special place in time with many exhibits, live presentations, even food!  Taste of Emona. Museum display courtesy of City Museum of Ljubljana Museum display courtesy of City Museum of Ljubljana Emona 2000: A City within an Empire is an  exhibition from May 23, 2014 running until May 10, 2014 at the City Museum of Ljubljana in the Old Town. Guests on the Taste of Slovenia tour  May 30-June 9, 2014 can don Roman togas and take part in the “Roman Emona” evening torch-lit tour of Ljubljana.  The Roman Emona two-hour guided city tour in English leaves from the Ljubljana Tourist Information Center next to the Triple Bridge in the Old Town –The tour

Centurion and Guide on the Torchlight Tour

Centurion and Guide on the Torchlight Tour

explores the Roman city of Emona in the present-day Ljubljana. A guide dressed in Roman attire, takes  us on an exploration of the surviving remains of Emona in  Ljubljana’s streets, squares, and buildings, during which you meet a Roman legionaire and get to know the culture, customs, and daily life of Emonans. Available May 1- September 30, 2014 on Thursdays at 8:00 PM.  Cost of the tour  is €15 euros for adults.Roman Lunch or dinner is also available  at € 18 euros.

Posted in Roman Emona, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Happy Easter from Taste of Slovenia

 Slovenian Easter Traditions

Happy Easter from Slovenia

Happy Easter from Slovenia

The Slovenian name for Easter is Velika noč,  which means “Great Night.”  It’s also a great holiday for eating after weeks of fasting. Slovenes are ready to tuck into the palette of foods that await the traditional table.

The fasting period preceding Easter, called “Lent” in English, was seriously observed. Many Slovenian cookbooks offered a complete menu for fasting days, which of course, prohibited meat and lavish displays of foods and desserts.   In reality, in years past, for villagers at least, it made this period of the year when food was scarce and not plentiful, a bit easier to tolerate. With Easter and the greening of the grasses, buds, chickens and cows came into the sunshine.

The festivities start to heat up with Palm Sundays when Slovenian carry “butare” to church, not palms, which could not be obtained in those days.  children carrying butare butare

Butare on Palm Sunday

Butare on Palm Sunday

 

The custom, žegen (the blessing of Easter baskets by the local priest), celebrated  in Slovenia for many years, and preserved by folk artist Maxim Gaspari in his many illustrations, has not changed since the 17 th century when it was described by Baron Janez Vajkard Valvasor in The Glory of the Duchy of Carnolia (a former name for Slovenia when it was part of other empires). 

Žegen by Emil Gaspari

Žegen by Emil Gaspari

On the Saturday before Easter Sunday, huge baskets covered with embroidered cloths, were brought to church. Foods put into the basket symbolized the sufferings of Christ.  There are more than forty such symbols. For instance, Easter eggs represent the blood of Christ, his tears or five wounds; meat symbolizes his body; potica, his crown of thorns; sausages, the ropes with which Christ was tied; headcheese, the earthquake felt by those guarding Christ on the cross;  and horseradish, the nails with which Christ was crucified. Vinegar and wormwood symbolize his bitter suffering.

The blessed foods are eaten on Easter Sunday.  Easter fare can also include, depending on the region, smoked pork, salted beef, hard-boiled eggs, prosciutto, pigs head, or parts of it with ears, bacon, klobasa, and stuffed stomach or budel, which is made by combining beaten eggs (sometimes even up to 50 eggs), cubed white bread, a small onion, cubed ham, along with salt and pepper, put  into intestines and cooked.  We also find Easter buns, flat cakes, štruklji (rolled dumplings) and richly decorated chicken eggs, served for Easter Sunday lunch.

But according to Dr. Janez Bogataj, PhD, expert on Slovenian traditional foods who guides

Potica

Potica

us through the Ljubljana Farmer’s Market on the Taste of Slovenia Real Food Tour, the central culinary symbol for Slovenes for Easter is the potica, a rolled yeast bread with various fillings, such as nuts, honey, poppyseed, almond, carob, chocolate, cracklings and for spring, tarragon. Even thought the potica is readily available at shops, he says that potica is usually baked at home. In times past it could weigh 34 kilograms.

In addition to potica, chicken eggs are also a central feature of Slovenian Easter foods, which have been either Pisanica from the Bela Kranija region colored or decorated in some other way. The egg is an old Indo-European symbol of fertility.  Names for these specially decorated eggs include pisanice, pisanke, pirhi. 

Pisanica from the Bela Kranija region

Pisanica from Bela Krajina

Also traditional on Good Friday are wooden rattles, which take the place of church bells which have “gone to Rome” for the day. The rattles can be hand-held of larger variety.

Children with Rattles by Maxim Gaspari

Children with Rattles by Maxim Gaspari

The church bells return on Saturday with special “bell ringers” or “pealers,”  pritrkovalci  across Slovenian regions. a custom dating back to 16th century. There are national competitions for bell “pealing.”

Easter rattle and decorated eggs

Easter rattle and decorated eggs

Traditional egg dyes included teran wine, dog-rose syrup, red onion skins, spinach leaves, nettle, dandelion, marigold blooms, saffron, elderberry flowers and other natural substances.  These dyes were prepared by mixing with water, vinegar and salt, and boiled with the eggs on a low flame for 30 minutes. After the pot is removed from the stove, the eggs remain in the liquid until it is cooled. The eggs are removed, dried, and rubbed with lard or other fat to give a nice sheen.

Pelinkovec, traditional wormwood vintage

And how did the Slovenian digestion deal with the increased meat and fat intake on the Great Day?   Wormwood saves the day. This traditional  prescription and elixir is called pelinkovec.

Dr. Bogataj wrote about the the use of wormwood as a digestive for Hartkeisonline, “Dandelion and Wormwood: Gifts of Spring” here:  http://hartkeisonline.com/2010/05/12/dandelion-and-wormwood-gifts-of-spring/

For more information: “Easter Dishes and Easter Sunday Customs” by Damjan Ovsec at “I Feel Slovenia.” http://www.slovenia.si/culture/tradition/easter-dishes/

 

Posted in Customs and Traditions, Dr. Janez Bogataj, Easter Foods, The Vibrant Slovenian Food Scene, traditional foods, Traveling to Slovenia | 2 Comments