Anonymous Interviews: CULINARY HERITAGE – 1.3

1.3 If your non-Slovenian friend invites you to a barbecue or a dinner to bring your plate of food what do you usually bring? Which of the foods you bring is a part of Slovenian tradition (ingredients, a way you prepare or serve it)?

Participant: We usually bring a dessert. Our top five or top three are apple strudel, then it’s apple pie, “gibanica” [layer cake], and of course, “štruklji” [special dumplings]. That’s very unusual for all other nations.

Participant: Definitely “potica” [potica cake]. Other cakes, there might be apple strudel or “pecivo kiflce” [pastry crescent-shaped rolls].

Participant: Depending on the occasion. It might be “krompirjeva solata” [potato salad] if it’s barbecue because we’re in Australia or it could be a strudel, apple strudel or “piškoti” [biscotti]. It depends, maybe schnitzel.

Participant: If it was a barbecue, mum would usually get some sort of cheese platter and prosciutto and all that. It’s generally, it’s not specifically Slovenian but it’s a cultural thing. She also does a lot of paprika, “vložena” [pickled] paprika which we make. We bring, what’s it, “vloženo” chillies, the type of meal… “Sarma” [cabbage rolls], stuff like that. It depends on what we have in the fridge and what we cook.

Participant: If I would be bringing savoury food I would most likely to bring either schnitzels, crumbed chicken, sometimes cooked kransky roasted in a pan. If I’m engaged to desserts, usually I make a strudel… Mostly it’s strudel.

Participant: With barbecues probably, I don’t think we would usually bring anything special. Maybe we would try to convince them to eat their food in a simpler way, with less condiment. Avoid barbecue sauce or pouring a tonne of some sauce over everything. The Slovenian way is to not kill the taste of meat with the sauces. We prefer to keep it simple. The other way possibly would be to bring desserts that are typically Slovenian, but not the main dish.

Participant: I’ve had quite a negative experience in bringing Slovenian dishes. They were very surprised that I brought something foreign. Not everyone is so keen on trying something new. There have been cases where they were really “oh, that’s interesting”. Some people wouldn’t even try and some people would be really excited about it. It is just really mixed. I don’t know if this is Slovenian though, I’ve tried “knedlji” [dumplings] with pears and “marelice” [apricots]. Some people loved it, some people hated it. It’s interesting. I usually ask whether, what I should bring and if they specifically ask that they would like something Slovenian, then I would absolutely gladly do that.

I would usually keep to the local, because I get more positive response generally. It would be eaten. Otherwise everyone would be asking me questions “what’s inside”, and a whole evening will be dedicated to explain the ingredients. Sometimes you don’t want to do that, you just want to blend in. You don’t want to always be the odd one out, so if I wanted to blend in a group I would bring Australian. But if I was asked to bring something Slovenian then I would.

Also, I’ve brought “čevapčiči” [skinless sausages]. In Australia now you can buy “čevapčiči” in the shops. It’s called skinless sausages and it says “čevapčiči” on it. Because there’s so many people here from ex Yugoslavia. I have had great success with that, people really love it. It’s just meat and it’s on the barbie. People love trying something a little bit different but it’s still within their culture in a way. It’s meat, so that’s Australian. If I want to bring something from sort of our, don’t want to stand out too much, I’ll bring “čevapčiči” and that will be a huge success.

Participant: Last time I was preparing for co-workers [and Slovenian boss]. I was preparing “dudile” [potato mush]. Is from my home-town, is mashed potatoes. You cook it around 15 minutes and then it is sour cream on top, is unique. [Interviewer: What did they said about it?] He was like “So delicious. Is surprising for him because he only eat outside. He don’t know how to prepare a dish or don’t know how to cook. He always catch the pizza, some other meals like Thai food. But when he finally, after [a few] years, tried this here in Australia, he was so delighted, he was so like unbelievable.

Participant: I prepared Slovenian food also for Australian friends, because they wanted to try our food. If Slovenian comes we ate Slovenian food. “Štrudel” [strudel] I make each time, because we agreed whenever I was invite to bring, each time they say please do apple strudel. For dinner, even if Slovenians, we come together, we just do barbecue. It’s not that we expect Slovenian food, but I did invite Australian friends to try Slovenian food.

Participant: Probably not. It depends on the friends. We have some friends who are very Australian and a little bit narrow minded, but we have others who are very open to different things. They’re the ones that we would probably try out.

Participant: Probably not. The closest we would come would be something that would resemble “čevapčiči” [skinless sausage] or something like that. [Wife: I’ve made them before, and if we have a barbecue we’ll usually have “čevapčiči”.] If we’re going to some people’s places sometimes we may try introducing them to “potica” [potica cake] or something like that, if we have it. But on occasion, if it comes up in conversation, we will try and explain and share ideas.

Participant: Kranjska klobasa” [kransky sausage] would, the kransky sausage would be probably the predominant thing, “čevapčiči” [skinless sausages], “potica” [potica cake], but I haven’t made a “potica” for a long time. Slovenska juha [soup], as in Slovenian chicken soup, or even the beef one, would be something I would contribute. My daughters love the Slovenian way of making potatoes. We would down in Primorska [a region in Slovenia] call it “tenstan krompir”, “pražen krompir” [roasted potatoes with onion]. Same name for everything. “Njoki” [gnocchi]. “Njoki”and “golaž” [goulash]. I cooked that for mum on the weekend down in [a name of an Australian city]. [Interviewer: You prepare gnocchi by yourself?] Normally I would, but because we were in a little apartment with a tiny little stove it, was the bought gnocchi.

Participant: They take something, my daughter. That is a must. I have to make coleslaw, Slovenian way coleslaw, grate it and put in some carrots, vinegar, salt, oil and “poper” [pepper]. It is “Kislo zelje [sauerkraut], ampak frišno [but fresh].” Here in Australia we call coleslaw. She loves that. Also I make “kisel krompir” [sour potatoes / potato salad] like we did at home with bučno olje [pumpkin seed oil] and it’s beautiful. My grandchildren when they come to my place, they like very much that I make schnitzels. They love schnitzels. With breadcrumbs and all that.

Participant: They definitely like the Slovenian potato salad with pumpkin seed oil. Even the green salad with the pumpkin seed oil with the garlic and parsley, with the garnishing, they enjoy that. Then tomato salad which is tomato, peppers, cucumbers and lots of red onions and again parsley. Also the cucumber salad, the way we prepared that in Slovenia while I was still there. The cucumbers you slice them, put the onion and salt in it, and then you let them stand so they go of the juices. Then you get rid of the juices, you squash it with your hands. You throw the juice away which they say it’s very wrong. It could be used for other things, for facial masks. Then a lot of peppers, oil and vinegar and you mix it with the warm boiled sliced potatoes. They love that salad. Every time when I’m invited to a barbecue I ask what they would like, I usually take that. I usually don’t take meat. The salads, at least three types of salads, the way we made it.

Participant: If we were invited to a party or something, usually we would make strudel, apple strudel. Which we call “retaše” in Slovenian. All the ingredients you can get in Australia. It is a dish that’s close to my heart because I’ve been watching how it’s made and it’s always a fun thing to make together with my grandma and my mum and my auntie. Or we make “klipače” when we go out. Everyone loves them. They’re bread, the roll-up bread, and it’s fun to make those with my grandma as well.

Participant: I usually buy kransky sausage, sauerkraut, and that’s pretty much all what I can bring and it’s somehow showing the Slovenian heritage.

Participant: “Štruklji” [special dumplings].

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1.4 Do you bring different food if you are invited to a barbecue or a dinner where there are only Slovenians? Answers.

Other questions:
1.1 On which occasions do you usually prepare or eat Slovenian food? Answers.
1.5 Do you feel a need to show your ethnic identity through food? Do you feel more Slovenian if you prepare or eat Slovenian food? Answers.
1.6 If you imagine a virtual or a physical museum exhibition presenting iconic Slovenian food what would be shown? Answers.
1.7 Which are the most iconic Slovenian food/drink brands? Answers.
1.8 For the 1st generation: Which food/drink or ingredients that you usually consumed or used in Slovenia, do you miss in Australia? It can be also a commercial brand. For other generations: If you go to Slovenia is there some kind of food you like and that you cannot have it here? Answers.

See also:
1 Culinary heritage (see Questions and Answers)
2 Growing and sourcing food (see Questions and Answers)
3 Digital technologies for communicating culinary heritage (see Questions and Answers)
4 Connecting with other Slovenian Australians (see Questions and Answers)
5 Identity (see Questions and Answers)
6 Conclusion (participants’ ideas) (see Questions and Answers)

This is a website of a research project exploring digital technologies for communicating the culinary heritage of Slovenian Australians in collaboration with the University of Canberra under the 2015 Endeavour Fellowship Programme (PDR).