The idea of this blog is to enjoy typical meals with people of 80 different nationalities. The project started in the Netherlands and moved with me to the UK, Sierra Leone and back to the Netherlands and the UK again! Both a culinary and cultural journey for me personally and a way to shed a more positive light on our multicultural society. Looking for a certain nationality? Use the search bar in the top left corner!
Sunday, 1 February 2015
Meal 36. Slovenian Jota and Štrudel
In many cases, "love" is the reason my hosts end up in the Netherlands. For Breda, from Slovenia,
it took the shape of Bert. A real Groninger, he came to Slovenia as a
surveyor 30 years ago (a project involving gas pipelines) and brought
Breda back home with him. They now have two grown daughters who speak
both Dutch and Slovenian. The long trip by car to Slovenia has been made
dozens of times, and they now divide their time between a small village
Groningen and Breda's birthplace back home. I am proudly shown photos
of their new "summer home" and of the house Breda grew up in.......a
centuries old fort with walls almost 2 meters thick! With walls that
thick, they just built the toilet in the wall.
so, it could be quite cold in the winter. It was Breda's father's job
to get the fire started in the morning. To get warm enough for this
task, a stiff drink was needed first! This practice was shared by many
businessmen, who would start the day with a nice coffee and cognac at
the local café.
hearty meal Breda is serving tonight is also meant for cold winter
nights. We start off with roasted chestnuts from a tree they've planted
themselves in the garden. The main dish, Jota, is traditionally served in mountain huts after a long day's work. It consists of some kind of pickled turnip -Kisla Repa-,
sausage (both specially brought over from Slovenia), potatoes, brown
beans and lard with bacon. Breda's oldest daughter was vegetarian for a
long time, but would make an exception for the bacon bits!
son-in-law, Erik, tells a story about less delicious food. When he
helped out at a farm a couple of years back, the vegetables they got for
lunch were from jars of preserves from the cellar. They seemed quite
old, and the farmer's widow they worked for would scrape off the layer
of mold on top before serving the contents. After she died, it turned
out there were preserves in the cellar from before World War II!
positive side is that you can eat 60 year old food without even
becoming sick. Although Erik says he never really enjoyed those lunches...
The high point of this
meal is the apple strudel for dessert. I enjoy watching the
preparations almost as much as eating the hot delicacy, sprinkled with
powdered sugar. Nowadays, Breda only makes this apple pastry about twice
a year, so it is really a special occasion. Although it isn't difficult
to make, it does require several steps and a big table, so I don't see
myself doing it anytime soon in my cramped student quarters.
After strudel with cappuccino (Slovenia is
close to Italy, after all), I receive a Slovenian going away present
made by Breda's sister. It's a jar of plum preserves smelling very
strongly of rum. I've tried it already and it's great with custard.
Although Breda loves good food, miraculously
she still fits in her 30 year old wedding dress and the stylish velvet
jacket she is wearing to a party after dinner. Breda and Bert drop me
off at the train station on the way to the party and I am left in the
cold with a warm feeling inside, contemplating how generous and
hospitable people can be to previously unknown guests like me...
If you have the time, a big table and an old table cloth, you can try Breda's Štrudel recipe at home.