About the food of Slovakia

Nové Štrbské lake. The Hight Tatra Mountains, Slovakia. Photo by Podzemnik.

Nové Štrbské lake. The Hight Tatra Mountains, Slovakia. Photo by Podzemnik.

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?

Slovakia, Devin castle, Panenská veža ("Virgin tower"). Photo by Ladislav Kováč.

Slovakia, Devin castle, Panenská veža (“Virgin tower”). Photo by Ladislav Kováč.

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.

Spis Castle, Slovenia. Photo by Petr Kratochvil.

Spis Castle, Slovakia. Photo by Petr Kratochvil.

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.

Vrbové, city center. Photo by Stanislav Doronenko.

Vrbové, city center. Photo by Stanislav Doronenko.

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.

Krpáčovo, Slovakia. Photo by Gomezko.

Krpáčovo, Slovakia. Photo by Gomezko.

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).

Photo by Paweł Opioła.

Photo by Paweł Opioła.

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.*

Spis Castle. Photo by József Süveg.

Spis Castle. Photo by József Süveg.

Maps & flag courtesy of the CIA World Factbook.

Maps & flag courtesy of the CIA World Factbook.

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Comments

  1. “Spis Castle, Slovakia” – you wrote Slovenia, by mistake.

  2. Hi, if you are interested, an Italian food blogger I follow (who writes posts both in Italian and English) just published a few interesting posts about Slovak recipes in the past month. Here is a link to her latest and you can then go backwards.
    http://crumpetsandco.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/ryzovy-nakyp-dolce-di-riso-slovacco-slovak-rice-pudding/

  3. Such lovely photos… when Czechoslovakia split, it seems the Czech part got all the glory and Slovakia is unjustly neglected. Here’s a commercial from Slovakian television on this theme, for a local beer. It says something like, you wear French designer jeans, drive a German car, eat Italian food…. so please at least drink our Slovak beer!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TkgEEAAN2o

  4. elisa waller says:

    wow! your descriptions are phantasmagorical! Love the way it flowed me..I so want to live near that city center too…
    these r a few of my favorite things u wrote:
    “There’s even a favorite recipe to use up the bounty ” ,
    “kitchens a-bubble with the warmth”,
    a puckering dose of vinegar”,
    “I’d rather have a heart that melts like a waterfall than a one of clammy stone”,
    “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”
    “Slovakia slides into my vision. ”
    <3 what a trip!

  5. My brother-in-law married a Slovak. My mother-in-law has learned quite a number of recipes from her & has taught me some. Interestingly, the diet is very bread-centric & carb rich, but everyone walks a lot & burns up the calories.

    Slovaks make garlic soup that is a lot like French onion soup, but with garlic. Heat up some broth to boiling. Place the desired amount of minced fresh garlic in the bottom of the bowl, along with a melty white cheese. Ladle on the hot broth. Float croutons on top of soup. Caution: the garlic will be a lot stronger than you expect, so start with a small amount of garlic.

    My father-in-law can’t stop raving about the string cheese they got in Slovakia–way, way, way better than anything available here in the US.

    Totally not food-related, but interesting: the Slovak economy is much stronger than nearly any other country in Europe despite the ravages of communism & its fall. Slovaks are debt-averse & that has made the difference in this global recession.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      That garlic soup sounds amaaaazing and, surely, if had known about it I would have tried it! Yum. I love all things garlic.

  6. Katarina says:

    The proverb would have “býva” instead of “byva” and end with “díva” not diva in Slovak.

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