Father Darko Žnidaršič OFM, Head of the Slovenian Catholic Mission and Church of St. Raphael in Merrylands – Sydney

Father Darko Žnidaršič OFM, Head of the Slovenian Catholic Mission and Church of St. Raphael in Merrylands – Sydney, about preserving and promoting the Slovenian culinary heritage in Australia and about encouraging active participation of younger generations.

By your opinion how important is to preserve and to promote the Slovenian culinary heritage in Australia and elsewhere?
Slovenian culinary heritage is also one of the components of our Slovenian identity, heritage, customs from the history till today and wherever our people are living, working, sharing: who we are, what we do own, including what do we cook or bake. If we can mark, how accurate, we have to sign and to promote to be: VERY ACCURATE and try to realise. – Although there are Slovenian people living abroad sharing their lives with other people, demonstrating their customs at some feasts or solemnities – including Church celebrations, Christmas, Easter and other solemnities – there is still a big harvest for us. Slovenian culinary heritage abroad is not so researched yet (maybe more in USA, there are Slovenian present for more than 150 years) nor more developed (?): at homes yes, but around to promote or develop some facilities: restaurants, clubs, pubs with the Slovenian food or with arrangements occasionally The Days of Slovenian Food and Heritage at various feasts or occasions (i. e. Slovenian Independence Day, Christmas, Easter Time, St. Martin’s Day, St. Nicholas’ Day etc.) – There is also a big problem of us, Slovenians, that many of our people are adapting themselves to the main nations or to other heritage, sometimes the married couples and families are mixed of nations, so there is much more difficult to provide or promote Slovenian heritage or cuisine, language and others (some exemptions could be – and they are).

How we can all preserve, present and communicate Slovenian culinary heritage in Australia?
One part of this question I described in the first answer as the main point. Most of all, it depends, how are the customs in the families, how they are native and then familiar with Slovenian cuisine. In the new world there could be also other meals or tastes and it’s every time interesting discussing or sharing the meals or tastes, the receipts of our people or various people who are friends of us, and finally their tastings or celebrations, when they come together. My opinion is that we have to promote some our Slovenian items much more, to organise the days of Slovenian food at any others restaurants, clubs etc, where they are interested or ready to accept for some days or one week. Many people attend multicultural festivals, Church celebrations: Holy Masses, multicultural Holy Masses, processions or other liturgical celebrations and then they prepare some parties or desks with their promotions: pictures, souvenirs, hand-crafts and food (“potica”, strudel, biscuits and others). We have to think about more cook books, electronic materials and also check how to invite or organise any courses to prepare some dishes – these course could be amazing if we have also the courses for various food or meals. In Australia, we have plenty of various food and additives and some of the people are not familiar with any of oils or spices of flavours.

How can we encourage active participation and thus enhance a creative potential of younger generations of Slovenian Australians?
One sentence in the Holy Bible and in our life present is, that generations are coming and going. There is mostly present, that the elder generations mostly keep the old traditions, including Slovenian cuisine, but younger not so – they are most involved in the new world and society and have their customs and habits. There could be exemptions, but promotions are like the covenant – (slovensko: zaveza – nekaj, kar nas zavezuje, spodbuda, ne samo zaveza z Bogom, če gremo spet v Sveto pismo in v naše življenje, op. P. D. Ž.). – The second problem is, that many people of the first generations are deceased and if there are not any memories (people speaking about their parents and their work or craft, customs) or people don’t know how to do, there many specialities are going with those people to graves and they could be lost. Some memories and cook books are much better. People of the elder (or next) generation(s) are – many of them – not able any more to cook or cooperate with any other work at our celebrations of functions, but their children and grandchildren vs. younger generations are not present every time or some of them are very rare to continue or share our customs, heritage or cuisine. Some of the last ones have been not seen for months or years or they could be alienated. The misunderstandings or other circumstances are not excluded here. But also we cannot be in touch just through the electronic communications or social networks – Facebook, Twitter and others, but there is also an education important as well as teaching, learning or communicating at any courses or meetings.

May 2015

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See also:
– Dr Elizabeth Tomažič, author of the book From Hands and Hearts: Slovenian Recipes in Australia. Read more.
– Nevenka Golc-Clarke, Hon. Consul for Slovenia in Queensland. Read more.
– Ludvik Štefko, a Slovenian chef and artist with a passion for herbs and spices. Read more.
– Draga Gelt OAM, the HASA Archives and the Slovenians in Australia websites. Read more.
– Jana Jereb, Sarah Robinson, Frank Pristov and Kate Pristov, participants of the Slovenian language course with a cooking lesson. Read more.
– Sasha Kos and Alenka Caserman, the Facebook groups Slovenci v Avstraliji and Novi Avstralci. Read more.

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).