Andrej A. Fritz
Morning mists are still swirling through the valleys while mountain peaks adorned with the rays of the morning sun are bathing in the first light of dawn. Spring is in the air. The last patches of snow in the ravines are slowly disappearing, and in shady corners, primroses are already in full blossom while meadow saffron and snowdrops shyly begin to peek from the ground. Grey smoke is pouring from the chimney of an old farm house where a bundle of wood is crackling in the old farm stove.
In the bowl on a stone shelf by the stove is half risen yeast mixture ready to be kneaded into dough for bread and potica. In the black hall at the other side of the fireplace, ham, sausages and bacon, all prepared by the butcher the previous week, are hanging from the ceiling. They are already slightly cured and their attractive smell permeates the air.
I put two more beech logs into the old stove and the water begins to boil. Mother puts in two pinches of salt and waits until it is boiling vigorously, then pours in a cup of buckwheat flour and makes a hole in the centre with a wooden spoon handle. Hot water erupts like a volcano. She pulls the pot to the side of the stove and leaves it to simmer gently. In the meantime, the sweet smell of coffee fills the room. She takes melted cracklings and sprinkles them on crumbled buckwheat žganci. Chicken soup is boiling in a big pot and home-made noodles are drying on a wooden tray near the stove. Mother is still busy in the kitchen preparing the gibanica, and before lunch delicious smelling zelan bread and potica are taken out of the stove. Hungry mouths are already looking forward to budlan tongue, mežerli and štruklji.
Every mention of traditional cooking stirs up a memory of that melange of smells. The different regions of Slovenia; Primorska, Notranjska, Dolenjska, Štajerska, Prekmurje, The Ljubljana Region and Gorenjska offer a great variety of dishes. Every season brings different delicacies. Religious holidays, national customs, birthdays, different feasts and influences from neighbouring countries also leave their mark in the country’s rich and varied culinary chest.
In this tiny book you’ll find only a small selection of Slovenian dishes. Housewives have made their own varieties of similar recipes. Maybe you won’t follow the recipes word by word but include or omit some ingredients to suit your own taste. That is fine; in essence, the dish will still be the same. Tastes differ.
I wish you a bundle of culinary joys with ‘Slovenian Cooking’ and hope that you enjoy the results!