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Slovenian Cuisine

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Slovenia - Cooking and Food Edit

Overview of Slovenian Cuisine HistoryEdit

The Slovenian history explains best all the influences in the Slovenian cuisine. This country is adjacent to, as well as once part of Italy, hence all the pastas and pastries and even pizza. Slovenia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the cuisine has a Hungarian influence, too, especially in the paprikas (stews) and Pork and Beef meat dishes. The Germanic influence can be seen in the heavier meat and game based dishes like venison and boar.The Balkan cooking style has its own representation in the Slovenian space, as demonstrated be the many grilled foods. An important fact(?) when discussing the (traditional) Slovenian cuisine is the fact that it rarely used imported products, such as exotic fruit (lemons) and cereals that don’t grow in the country (except um, rice? wheat? farro? They do grow barley). Slovenia has not been able to produce all of its cereal needs due to the lack of suitable arable land (much being alpine, forest or marshland), so wheat, corn and grain for animal fodder must be imported. Traditional Slovenian restaurants known as Gostilnas serve meals with all these neighboring influences. Regarding beverages, the Austrians and Hungarians “borrowed” the Slovenians the pivo beer, popularly served with all kind of dishes. Because Slovenia also has a bit of a sea coast (all of 47 km, or 29 mi), it affords excellent seafood, including shellfish and the Adriatic bluefish. Slovenians seem to be very hospitable people and don’t take no for an answer when offering a visitor some food. The most important meal of the day is eaten in the early afternoon and only rarely late in the evening. Soup is the classic first course. Sometimes up to 8 courses are served during a family reunion or celebration. It is normal and expected to share the salad bowl with the neighbors at the table, as Slovenians are very friendly in all occasions. Using your own fork to pick up food is also a custom, as their eating habits are rather casual.

Cuisines of Slovenia Edit

Map of Slovenia

Map of Slovenia - Click to enlarge

Due to its history and cultural background, Slovenia is characterized by culinary diversity and still, some general rules and traditions have predictable patterns. There is a wide range of cooking traditions and styles, due to the fact that Slovenia has 7 regions: Koroska, Dolenjska, Notranjska, Primorska, Prekmurje and Stajerska.

In Koroska, the famous dishes are the sweet žganci, made with honey, the traditional Pork meatballs and the žlikrofi, similar to Italian pasta, but with added fruit. In the center of the country there is Notranjska and on the coast there is Primorska. These 2 regions have similar dishes, like the meat soups (jota with vegetables and Pork) and the pastas (fižol with prsut or olives and bread). The fish dishes are also popular, both as main course and as soup (brodet fish soup). In Stajerska and Prekmurje, the traditional meals are called na žlico (spoon), defining a range of soups: sour, soup, potatoes soup, bržole or bograč. On Sundays, Slovenians from these regions eat Turkey with mlinci or smoked Ham in pastry with jelly, served with white and red wine. In Gorjenska, the most famous soups are the browned soup with eggs and the vegetable hot-pot and in Dolenjska, the potatoes polenta and the matevž are the most eaten meals. In Dolenjska and Bela Krajina people also eat grilled or roasted meat and vegetables, instead of bread and beans as bean rolls or cured Pork with mashed beans.

Preparation Methods for Slovenian Cooking Edit

Because the Slovenian meals are complex and contain more elements that usual, even the plain salads, the Slovenian cooking requires time and patience. Sometimes, all the ingredients are precooked and then integrated in the main dish. Very often, such in the case of all meats with sauces, there are 3 different recipes to follow and a basic one that unites the other 3: sauce, topping and meat are cooked separately and then baked once again. The same thing is done with the pastas, which are often cooked at home with eggs, milk and flour, then the topping is made out of Beef, sausages and vegetables and then there is a special sauce that gathers them all. The filling in all desserts, made of apples or other fruit is precooked, too and sometimes let to get cold, which requires an extra amount of time. Cooking home bread, from making the flour till the final product is a long process, which includes devotion and appreciation of national values.Before any holiday, the preparations are intense, as women prepare around 6 courses for the Sunday meals or the Sunday Easter and Christmas dinner. Besides tasting good, it is important that these look appetizing for all the guests.

Special Equipment for Slovenian Cooking Edit

Slovenians use modern equipments, even if cooking traditional, old food. The main course is served on flat round plates and the salads and soups are served in wide bowls and the ornaments are reduced. Desserts, like the pies or the traditional strudels are put on wide trays. Because they eating customs are friendly and casual, the table is set so that more people can eat from the same salad bowls, without using other cutlery. The types of food that Slovenians consume are not hard to find in regular food stores, as imported products are rare. Special preparations when wanting to cook Slovenian is an Italian cookbook, as many Slovenian recipes, especially the ones including pasta come from Italy. From all spices, chilly and pepper are mandatory for most of the Slovenian meals and vinegar is a must for all salads. A regular stove is necessary for roasted meat and especially for roasted potatoes (pražen krompir); these are laid on the stove grill and let for 1 hour to turn into chrome color. In the traditional farms that still exist today, the Slovenians prepare home made bread, cooked in a special heating and cooking oven, which can be found today just in European museums and in these old farmhouses. Also, the Wheat is taken from the barn, transported, carted to the mill to be grounded into fine flour.

Slovenian Food Traditions and Festivals Edit

Slovenians are primarily Roman Catholic Christians and their important celebrations are Christmas and Easter. For Easter, Slovenians prepare a special cake called paskha, also eaten in Russia; this is made of cheese and raisins and has the shape of a pyramid and the inscription of the letter XB, meaning Christ has risen. The kulich is also popular, along with babka and a wide range of biscuits, flavored with orange, lemon, cinnamon, poppy seeds and almonds. Potica, a Christmas favorite, is the practically the national cake, consisting of a sweet yeast bread dough rolled around a walnut, poppyseed, or other filling. It is also served in Croatia and Slovakia on both Christmas and Easter. On Easter Sunday, meat is consumed with abundance: roast Veal, suckling pig, meat as a stuffing in the cabbage rolls, meatballs and sausages; the eggs are not missing from the Easter Sunday either. On Christmas, Slovenians also eat a lot of cookies, like the Christmas fruit bars, made with a lot of butter, chopped dates and walnuts and candied fruit and the Slovenian Christmas cookies, like kolaki with apricot jam or jelly, ground nuts, walnuts and lemon flavoring. On Saint Martin’s day, on November 11, the grape juice officially becomes wine, changing from must to vino. The same day, mlinci (dough with roasted Goose) and gibanica (dessert) are eaten. Other celebrations, when traditional food is consumed are: Slovenian Culture Day on the 8th of February, International Labor day on the 1st and 2nd of May and Assumption day, on the 15th of August.

People in Slovenian Food Edit

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It is very easy to be or become a gourmand in Slovenia, due to the fact that Slovenian cuisine is rich and has multicultural influences. Slovene cooking even at its most humble is tradional slow-cooking and the slow food movement has found a happy home in modern Slovenja. In contast, some Slovenian chefs sometimes call their cooking table or kitchen 'the laboratory', as the preparation and the techniques can be pretty complex and require precision. The chefs are usually specialized in a sub domain, as knowing and preparing all meals is a hard job. While the chefs in the coast restaurants of Primorska are specialized in preparing marinated Anchovies a la Riko, mussels buzara, lobster with vernaccia wine or polenovka po trzasko (all luxurious seafood specialties), in Stajerska the chefs are specialized on rich soups, like kurja juha vampova juha and gobja juha, the farmers keep it simple by making their own bread and sacrificing and preparing the pig at Christmas. There are many restaurants in Slovenia with specific national cuisines: Italian with the famous pizzas and pastas, Arabic kebab and grilled dishes, Chinese restaurants with sweet and sour and rice, Hungarian and German with Potato gulas, sausages and Beef steaks and all kind of different desserts, with numerous ice-creams and strudels. These are all adapted and transformed by the national Slovenian cuisine, by famous chefs from all the country’s regions.

See also Edit

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