A slivovica-soaked reminiscence, vinobranie, and the whole lot you needed to learn about cabbage.
That is an article from our archive of travel guides Spectacular Slovakia, written in 2004. We determined to make this gem out there to our readers, making solely needed changes. For up-to-date info and have tales, check out the most recent version of our Spectacular Slovakia guide.
Many vacationers who attempt Slovak beer by no means style two different native drinks – slivovica (plum brandy) and jablkovica (apple brandy). You should buy slivovica and jablkovica in shops and bars, however they’re stronger and purer when do-it-yourself. Making moonshine is a standard Slovak passion. There are distilleries in cities and villages that course of fermented mash for a small charge.
Some Slovaks jerry-rig private distilleries at house (which is technically unlawful). Nonetheless made, lots of of 1000’s of liters of moonshine should be floating across the nation. Most households appear to have a bottle or two, and after I advised associates I needed some a pair years in the past to take again to the US, I had three bottles on my arms inside per week.
From Trenčín, I took the prepare to Rajec, a city outdoors Žilina, to assist my pal Andrej and his uncle carry barrels of apple pulp to a neighborhood distillery. The uncle wasn’t a drinker – he simply hated to see the broken apples from his backyard go to waste. So there was no boozing that day (Thank God). On the prepare, I advised Andrej in regards to the time, two years earlier than, after I had gone to an acquaintance’s condominium on Easter to purchase jablkovica.
The Easter jablkovica story
I had been staying at my girlfriend’s dad and mom’ home that weekend and had met the person within the village pub. He was in his 40’s. He had a big head, and a crooked, gap-toothed grin. He insisted I come over the subsequent day to attempt his do-it-yourself brandy. He’d give me a deal on a bottle if I favored the style.
My girlfriend stood outdoors together with her household’s Saint Bernard as I used to be buzzed into his condominium constructing.
4 full shot glasses sat on his front room desk alongside a inexperienced bottle.
“Na zdravie!” he mentioned. (Cheers!) We shot the photographs.
“Another,” he mentioned. “Na zdravie!” We shot the photographs.
He poured two extra photographs.
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“Another,” he mentioned. “Na zdravie!”
His spouse walked in, carrying a tray of open-faced sandwiches. She set the tray down, positioned a guffawing child in a swing that hung in a doorway and sat subsequent to us.
“Another,” the person mentioned.
“I should not,” I mentioned.
“Another – so my spouse can be a part of,” he mentioned. But it surely was three extra. Na zdravie! Na zdravie! Na zdravie! I walked to the balcony and yelled to my girlfriend- in English -to rescue me.
Her arrival referred to as for 2 extra photographs.
Time turned liquid after that. Hours turned seconds and seconds turned hours. There was the infant guffawing within the swing, extra photographs, the spouse saying, “I am unable to imagine an American is in my front room,” the Saint Bernard someplace down under, the person’s big, gap-toothed grin, a damaged bottle that gave the impression to be my fault.
Someplace in there my girlfriend obtained me to her dad and mom’ home. It was a wierd and tough Easter.
Burčiak and cabbage
One other widespread Slovak beverage is burčiak, a untimely wine with the consistency of apple cider. Based on Slovak legend, each man ought to change his blood yearly with two liters of burčiak. Burčiak is offered solely within the fall although, and just for just a few weeks. It’s the drink of alternative at Vinobranie (lit. wine harvest) festivals held in September and October in Slovak cities the place wine is made.
The fundamental options of vinobranie are:
– Burčiak, kačka (duck) and lokša (a tortilla-like meals comprised of potatoes)
– 1000’s of Slovaks
– lots of of stands promoting Slovak crafts
– folks bands and dancers
– carnival rides
I missed the most important Vinobranie, which takes place outdoors Bratislava, whereas travelling within the east. So I took a bus to Stupava, a city simply north of Bratislava, for the Dni zelá (cabbage days) competition, which was nearly the identical factor.
The bus experience from Bratislava lasted 30 minutes. The motive force was a pleasant, heavy-set man. About half means there, a lady boarded the bus and handed him a bag of potatoes. Ten minutes later, the motive force parked the bus on the facet of a slim nation highway, left the engine working, threw the bag of potatoes over his shoulder, walked off the bus, crossed the highway and entered a home. Two minutes later, he emerged from the home, with out the potatoes, crossed the highway, obtained behind the wheel, put the bus again in gear and we drove off.
Stupava is a part of the Záhorie area. Locals – Záhoráci – communicate a dialect someplace between Czech and Slovak. Like Poles within the US and blondes in all places, Záhoráci are the butt of many jokes. This is an instance:
Two Záhoráci are standing on reverse sides of a river. One shouts, “How do you get to the opposite facet?” The opposite shouts, “You already are on the opposite facet.”
I requested an outdated man who obtained off the bus with me if he knew any Záhorák jokes. He smiled, scanned his environment and mentioned he did not.
He and I walked to the competition collectively. He walked with a cane, however he walked quick, and he had large arms, and a giant, barrel chest.
Cubicles lined the highway. In a single, a person was stuffing heads of cabbage into a large grater. White squiggles got here out the opposite finish. A line of individuals, a few of them holding rubbish baggage, waited to purchase the squiggles at Sk18 a kilogram.
“Slovaks used to make the whole lot you may think about out of cabbage,” the outdated man mentioned, handing me a burčiak. “We stomped the cabbage within the fall and ate it till Might.”
“Stomp?” I mentioned.
“With our toes,” he mentioned. “In large barrels. Some households had 4 barrels.”
“We stomped the cabbage,” he mentioned. “Then we put a stone on high. Water rose up. Then as soon as the cabbage began fermenting …”
“Fermenting?” I mentioned.
“How lengthy earlier than cabbage ferments?”
“About three weeks,” he mentioned. “Sooner if you happen to stomp it with soiled toes.”
“Micro organism,” he mentioned. He took a sip of his burčiak.
I dawned on me that I knew little or no about cabbage. For instance, I hadn’t identified cabbage fermented. I assumed sauerkraut was pickled cabbage.
“I attempted cabbage for the primary time 4 years in the past,” I mentioned.
“Is that proper?” the outdated man mentioned. “So as soon as the cabbage begins fermenting, you take away the surplus juice and change it with water, in any other case it will spoil. You utilize the juice to make sauces.
“We made cabbage soup, in fact. We baked cabbage into bread. We had ovens constructed into the partitions, with a fireplace beneath. We laid the dough skinny and pressed the cabbage into it.
“This place,” he gestured to point Stupava, “is thought for cabbage. That does not imply it is the perfect. I personally favor cabbage from out of doors markets. The very best place in Bratislava …”
And he talked about cabbage for an additional half hour.
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