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SIOL.NET #4. Potica is also a hit for the Portuguese

posted Oct 14, 2019, 2:46 PM by Sardinha Media
One last time I am very happy to share the 4th and last episode of my own view about Slovenija, and what makes me so deeply connected with this wonderful country. This time we went exploring the Štajerska where my wife is from. Have a look, share, let me know what you think. Share, tweet, enjoy 


For the non slovene readers here is the (slightly different) english version:

This Easter time I would like to present the readers to my multicultural family, between Portugal and Slovenia. A family I am very proud to work hard to build. And believe me, it is not easy to build a family in between different cultures. Don’t get me wrong, there are no culture shocks like Japan-Slovenia (which I know instances of). But there are many small differences that need to be taken care of before they get big, like time schedules (Portuguese have a relaxed way to deal with appointments, maybe because if you have to wait for somebody in Portugal you go and take a coffee in one of the nice terrasa like those in Lisbon) and like spontaneous actions (it seems difficult to the average slovene to take an unplanned action, even if assured that all will be fine while taking it, which is usual to a Portuguese). 

The Sardinha initiative was born to explore these common points and differences between the Slovenian and Portuguese cultures. I was surprised when I first lived in Slovenia in 2005, to find out how similar we are in so many ways although the distance that keeps us apart. And as much as I know I do not think there was any historical relation between the two countries. It is interesting to notice that in both, the language is a national identity making of the poets the national heros. 

My parents came for a visit to see the little one. After some days in the city we drove up to Rogaška Slatina where my wife is from. Although they were there before, it is already a tradition to take them there and meet both families. Although my parents are not yet capable of speaking more than a few basic slovene words, people can understand each other in many ways and I help whenever possible. In fact, the priest at my wedding in Portugal requested from my father to open the ceremony in Slovene, which we successfully did with the help of my wife and technology. Besides, my son is already teaching them the language with a high level of success (but within his topics of interest).

On the way we see the traditional Easter ritual of the local priest blessing the food under a cross, by the side of the road. Everybody in their sunday clothes and the ladies bringing the ham and hren in their baskets covered by white cloth. This reminds us how family and church are very close in this country, in particular outside of the big cities. And far in the distance a line of men shooting their improvised guns with gunpowder and paper celebrating a tradition of decades that nobody knows how it started. It seems that every family man in this region have such a gun to join these celebrations and, close to Rogaška they talk about 100 gunmen after the traditional Easter mess on sunday.  

We started by visiting the glass factory Rogaška Crystal, that is appreciated worldwide. The industry started in 1927 by the need of bottling the special water from the region and it is now one of the top crystals in the world. We had planned to offer my parents such gift for their 40 years of marriage. I would say that families in Portugal are sometimes more traditional than in Slovenia, and couples tend not to get divorced so easily, although their sometimes dramatic behaviour definitely influenced by the amount of soap operas consumed every day over the TV. I say that by not remembering more than a couple of friends with divorced parents throughout my youth. Can’t assure the statistics neither the situation of the couples today, though.

After this we head to the restaurant Jurg, in the hills of Rogaška, to meet the rest of the family. These family times are as important for Portuguese as they are for Slovenians. In both cultures the Family is one of the pillars of everyone's stability in life. This might be related to the fact that Christian religion is the background in both sides but I cannot know for sure. As such, sitting for a family lunch is important and takes as much time as it needs to take. And because I know about the difference in timing, we make sure we are all on time. 

The food here today as a Easter tematic, serving ham and chicken and hren after the traditional mushroom or meat soup. Although the meat plate is always privileged in the interior of the country, there are always vegetarian options such as šparglij risotto. All the food products are local, as much as the house wine produced at the owner's vineyard. This is a standard in this region, where many produce their own wine. I guess this is a bit all over the country, where the wine production is widespread although in small amounts to feed neighbours and local commerce. If you want to get some you have to visit the producer. Also the apple juice is homemade, making the smiles of the younger ones.

The desert today is special. It is the first time I try the deconstruction of the famous potica, presented at this restaurant as a sum of components of this traditional cake. Maybe the most Slovene cake of them all, with all that weight of national identity over it. I do not know if the deconstruction version of it is well received by more traditional taste, but I liked the experience. Light and tasty, with a bit of pear icecream within other components. 

Later we go and visit the majestic center of the city. I cannot avoid to compare it to a little Saint Petersburg, one of the cities of which architecture I enjoy the most. We try the sacher cake that is way better here than in Vienna, and reminds us of the Austro-Hungarian influence still present all around in a non-invasive way. We also try the water in one of the original city fountains in the back of Vila Golf. A heavy water full of iron that certainly makes you stronger for the day.     

In the next morning we drive through the hills to appreciate the Spring landscape and the beautiful green all around us all the way to Donačka Gora, the hill that you can see from all around Rogaška. It is indeed a very pleasant scenario that I am lucky to have found, very different from the ones you can find in Portugal, but that complements them to perfection. We end the walkabout at my mother in law for a family lunch, this time with the real potica.

Song for the text: