by Leoni Jošt and Neža Vollmaier
The food is connected to the way of life, people used to work as pastures and they are still famous for their cheese and milk products. But the most famous and personal favorite is Bled Cream Cake. They started making it almost 70 years ago and they have already baked 15 million of them. If they put them in a row, they would come from Bled to Napoli (1050 km). But if we built a wall from all the slices ever made around Bled Lake, it would be eight meter high.
How to recognize the original?
The measurements of Bled Cream Cake are 7x7x7 centimeters. The layers are made of puff pastry, egg cream, wiped cream, puff pastry and powder sugar. When it is put on the plate the entire slice has to wiggle.
The preparation process has stayed the same for centuries and the people are very faithful to the local tradition. You can taste the influence of Austrian cuisine. The families who used to work in Mežica mine or iron works in Ravne had beef soup and potatoes for lunch on their daily menu. They made their dishes with vegetables from farms, fruits and wheat. Meat was eaten only on Sundays and special occasions or in winter time. Today we have plenty of meat, on our fields grow mainly potatoes, beans, corn, cabbage and carrots. One of the most popular dishes is still “ajdovi žganci” or as the English would say it buckwheat spoonbread.
The word žganci comes from Slovenian verb žgati, meaning to burn or to toast. They are served with sour milk or meat sauces and ocvirki (roasted peace of pig’s fat) and white coffee.
In the kitchen they like to use natural products, especially mushrooms, pork, potatoes, beans, butter, cream and eggs. They do not use much of the vegetables except sour cabbage and onion in the winter and autumn times. On the tables you can easily find porridge and pumpkin oil, which is one of the main ingredients in the process of food preparation. You can sense the influence of Wiener cuisine in cold cuts preparation and Štajerska taste also remarked the Austrian cuisine, especially in pumpkin oil use.
Traditional food is Pohorska omelette. It is made with eggs, sugar, jam and flour. It was created in 1952 by a chef Franc Pogač on Mariborsko Pohorje. Simple preparation and quick process create a fluffy desert covered with wild berry sauce.
The people in Prekmurje like to use honey, different kind of milk (cows, goats, sheep), chocolate, pumpkins, elder, fat and different vine kinds (jurka, zlati traminec). The legend says that every housewife in Prekmurje has to have her own favorite recipe for Prekmurska gibanica and langaš, which is a common dish on celebrations. They say that right langaš is made with potatoes, here you can sense the Hungarian influence in cuisine. Fancier dish is prepared only on very special occasions, due to lots of work and ingredients is Prekmurska gibanica. For this dish is needed a short crust “podplat”, strudel dough “gübe” and four kinds of stuffing – cottage cheese, poppy, walnuts and an apple layer. The desert has nineteen layers and every slice weights at least 170 grams.
In the past they used to eat a lot of potatoes and turnip cabbage. One of the most famous and specific for this region is kavra, which is prepared in winter and spring. It is a thick stew, which can be served as a main dish. In authentic restaurants you will be served with stewed žganci , made of potatoes and flour. It is common that the “štrukelj” is baked with cream and the fish is dried on smoke. A real specialty is “žlikrofi”, the best ones are from Idrija, stuffed with potatoes and crumbs. They got European certificate of a traditional remark.
Dolenjska is not very famous for its cuisine but its recognition is rising. Most people, when they hear the word Dolenjska, think of delicious vine, especially Cviček. They believe that Cviček can heal, it helps with high blood pressure and burns fat.
Otherwise, people there like to eat smoked pork legs, blood sausages (black pudding) with sour cabbage and “ocvirkovi štruklji” (pastry with cottage cheese and pieces of pigs’ fat.
Because of its location the cuisine was strongly influenced by the Italians, Hungarians and Balkans. People swear on natural, local and seasonal food. In the past most of dishes were prepared with home-made vegetables and animals that were caught in the forest or in the water. In 1592 there was hunger on the countryside, and they did not eat anything else but turnip peelings and that’s how the dish aleluja was invented.
A popular dish is “matevž”, which is made of potatoes and beans, it can be also put as a side plate to meat or main dish with cabbage.
Primorska Kitchen is very various and divided in six groups: Posoška, Idrijska, Briška, Vipavska, Kraška and Istria.
In Vipava area people eat delicious but simple food. They also praise home-made vegetables, fruits etc. It is influenced by Italian and Middle European cooking style. Dishes are colorful and portions are not very large. The best is “Vipavska jota” with pieces of pork meat. This region is the most culinary interesting due to “Osmicas”. The tradition began in the time of Maria Theresa and it has been through some changes. Nowadays you can go there once or twice a year, when farmers open their homes and serve home-made products to their guests.
Kras is very famous for its dried meat (pršut), which they dry on air, especially on southern wind called “burja”.
In Istria people put a lot of love, hard work and imagination into the preparation of each special dish. They like serving pasta, lasagnas, fish dishes but the most famous are “fuži”. They are sort of pasta that is half-dried and not baked. Main ingredients are eggs, salt and grits. Overall, in Primorska they use a lot of Mediterranean spices and they truly now how to present the sea on a plate.
Diplomats tasting Slovenian food: