Just when I thought I’d seen the most beautiful castles in the world, Slovakia slides into my vision. Her mighty mountains, sparkling lakes, and deep forests are as lovely as any other in Eastern Europe, but the castles are simply unreal. It is not the architecture that speaks most strongly to me, but the way these stopping posts for the weary hearted reach out of nature with almost alarming boldness.
One look can lead a dreamer to distraction.
I can’t help but wonder…What lives once stood small and proud amid these mighty walls?
A view like this can keep love alive for centuries… just nestle me somewhere in this photo and I’ll live out my days content.
Call me an eternal romantic. I don’t mind. I’d rather have a heart that melts like a waterfall than a one of clammy stone.
The best part?
The castles aren’t Slovakia’s only comforts. Step out of the cool air, into their welcoming homes, and you’ll find kitchens a-bubble with the warmth of hearty stews – beans, pork, or cabbage, simmered with paprika and cream… that sort of thing. Noodles or potatoes are common additions, as are sausages and bacon. One particular soup is called Sour Bean Soup [Recipe], made tart with a puckering dose of vinegar.
On the side, one might find a thick slice of rye bread, perhaps toasted and rubbed with garlic (Hrianka) [Recipe], stuffed peppers, sauteed mushrooms, sauerkraut, or even potato flatbreads (which look a lot like crepes but are made from boiled potatoes and flour).
There’s a love for fresh produce plucked straight from the orchard, especially cherries, plums, apricots, berries, apples, and pears. There’s even a favorite recipe to use up the bounty called Bublanina… or bubbly cake [Recipe]. Then there’s layered cakes that remind me a little of the Ice Cube Cake we made for Serbia, and – of course – fried dough filled with fruit compotes called Sisky (think Slovakian donuts).
Wash it all down with a shooter of slivovica, or homemade plum brandy… and ponder this old Slovakian saying:
“The sun loves to peer into the home where love lives.”
Do domu, kde láska byva, slniečko sa rado diva.*