Taste of Slovenia tour group member gives her impressions of Slovenia

With permission of Gillian Jacobs from UK, who was a member of our tour group to Slovenia in May 2013, I am publishing excerpts from her blog on Slovenia.  She is a new blogger and her site is called Wise Up to Health if you would like to read more of her other articles.

Slovenia: here food is still real

I have just come back from a food tour of Slovenia, organised by Dr Sylvia Onusic of Taste of Slovenia, and helped in situ by  Kimberly Hartke, the publicist for the Weston A Price Foundation.

Slovenia for those who don’t know is beneath Austria, in the former Yugoslavia, also

Kamnik Castle

Kamnik Castle

bordered by Italy, Croatia and Hungary. It is a beautiful country, with historic towns, immaculately kept villages and farms, mountains, wild flower pastures, a small but interesting coastline, AND a vibrant and healthy food culture.

What is more, most people speak English, because Tito, the President of  Yugoslavia before its breakup into separate countries, chose English rather than Russian as the main second language to learn in school.

We were a group of mainly American (plus two Canadians and myself) passionate about real food, and eager to taste whatever was presented to us. Even the first hotel breakfast

Breakfast at Hotel Cubo

Breakfast at Hotel Cubo

in cosmopolitan Ljubljana was refreshingly different to the normal hotel fare, with beetroot juice taking pride of place alongside the usual fruit juices and pouring yogurts.

At home I often make Sally Fallon’s Beet Kvass, (see her book ‘Nourishing Traditions’)a fermented health drink that is a great way to start the day.  A blog on this to follow! Needless to say I fell upon the Slovenian beetroot drink, even though it was not necessarily fermented.

Back to the trip: what a great bunch of people we were. Amazing how eating three meals a day together unites a group. We really ate a lot more, what with ‘having’ to eat every time we had a wine or honey tasting as well. Conversation ranged from the intricacies of bee keeping, the lowdown on keeping backyard chickens, the dangers of nicotinamides on crops, the art of fermenting foods, to the joy of cooking combined with nourishing ourselves with real food.

In Slovenia there is still real food aplenty.  As in other countries in Europe still largely immune to newfangled fads like low fat eating, with the exception of Great Britain and Ireland, you can see in the young the health benef its of quality protein, with very little need to snack in between meals.

 Thriving and vibrant markets are a delight. Dairy stalls selling bottles of whey, raw milk

Pine tops for syrups and medicine

Pine tops for syrups and medicine

vending machines, sauerkraut stalls selling cabbage and turnip sauerkraut, with bottles of ‘fermented cabbage juice’ on the side for just €2.5 (a couple of dollars), farm made salami and ham stalls, honey stalls selling propolis infused with organic and raw honey, pumpkin seed oil stalls, and stalls selling pine tops to make fermented health drinks.

All of this is normal everyday food to the Slovenians. Even the Slovenian version of pizza made in a wood fired oven in the back of a lorry in the market was not your normal pizza. It comprised a mixture of buckwheat flour and ordinary flour. Smothered with a creamy cottage cheese and other delights it did not put the fear of God in us. It tasted wonderful! Fast forward a month to my visit to the US, where I almost cancelled a trip to the beach in North Carolina because without self-catering there was no possibility of eating affordable nourishing food (quality protein, good fats, no high fructose corn syrup, fresh organic vegetables). Here in Ljubljana market we all felt energized just thinking about the food before us, and even more heartened to see the deep connection that the sellers had with their produce. Because they did not know that anything else existed, I can’t say they felt pride. The point is it was NORMAL to them! It was only us temporary refugees from countries that only have pockets of resistance to the tide of chemicalised and industrial food who felt elated, and ….. envious!

So just imagine then our delight on this tour to taste food that was cooked with pride, with a great combination of traditional wisdom and modern presentation and lightness of touch. New tastes abounded, from the homemade bread with sage rolled inside, to gin sorbet served whilst inhaling the heady aroma of juniper infused steam! Traditional soups were almost always served, with proper stocks, and satisfying flavors.

One of the food highlights for me was after our visit to the Fonda fish farm on the last day,

Irena Fonda's sea bass carpaccio

Irena Fonda’s sea bass carpaccio

the founder and owner served us a Carpaccio of  her sustainably farmed 8 year old sea bass, on a shady terrace overlooking the saltpans near the seaside town of Piran. In a later post I am going to talk more about how the farm is so special in the way it raises their fish, in waters that are amongst the least polluted in Europe.

The tour was so special because of Sylvia’s passion for Slovenia and all it has to offer, and her deep connection to the country of her forebears. Her superb contacts in Slovenia made a huge difference to our overall experience, and all I can say is if you want to experience a country that has a food culture to be proud of join Sylvia’s next tour, or take the train from Venice and check it out yourself.

thanks to Gillian Jacobs for her blog and photos. See it here at. . .  http://wiseuptohealth.com/slovenia-here-food-is-still-real/

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About Sylvia P. Onusic, PhD, LDN, CNS

Licensed and board-certfied nutritionist, writer and researcher. BS in Home Economics, Foods and Nutrition Education;, MS in Health Administration; PhD in Public Health Education; completed the dietetic program at Penn State, University and the CNS Certified Nutrition Specialist program. Fulbrighter to Slovenia in Public Health. Speaker at Weston A. Price Foundation Conference and International Raw Milk Symposiums. Member of the American College of Nutrition. Creator and tour leader for "Taste of Slovenia, a Real Food Tour."
This entry was posted in Itinerary, Ljubljana, Slovenian Bees, Slovenian Foods, The Vibrant Slovenian Food Scene, Traveling to Slovenia. Bookmark the permalink.

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