Monday Meal Review: Slovakia

“Everything bad is good for something.”
– Slovak Proverb

Have you ever done something, only to find it didn’t work out as you’d planned… but somehow it worked out even better?

Last week I casually substituted a video for my written meal review. I thought it’d be a fun change of pace- a more visceral experience for you. Almost immediately, the comments filled with a resounding “no,” – an outcry that was astonishing both in it’s passion as in it’s consistency. Almost every single person felt the same way, which is remarkable in itself.

And the fact that every comment was worded thoughtfully, kindly, and compassionately? So awesome.

As I read through the comments, I was moved by your devotion to the blog and especially to the written word, referred to as a ‘dying art’ by some.

I thought about your responses while I cooked this week’s comforting menu – soup, bacon bread, and blueberry bubbly cake. Maybe it was a subconscious move on my part – after last week, a big bowl of coziness was just the thing.

While the change I made was viewed as a negative (a “bad” thing), great good came out of your responses… (which goes to prove that old Slovak proverb at the top of this post). You see, whenever I post a meal review, thousands of people read it. Only a few ever comment. For years I’ve plugged away, content to share my message but occasionally wondering if the silence – your silence – meant you weren’t interested. That my words bored you or somehow didn’t seem important. The video was my attempt to “fix” something I thought might be broken.

Your outcry told me that nothing was broken. Your outcry was good.  You taught me a great lesson – I will never again assume silence is necessarily negative.

Thank you for this.

Keith will continue to try out the new format for the video (with variations along the way), but I will happily return to writing written reviews.

This week is a little different since I wanted to address the situation, but next week will take you right back into the kitchen, or some such surrounding lesson.

Please continue to encourage or critique along the way. I’m here to help you with your adventures as best I can.

Love to you all.

Ava’s Corner:



Grilled Garlicky Bacon Bread | Hrianka [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

This is perhaps the most ingenious recipe thus far on the adventure. It’s quick. It’s easy. And it tastes like garlic bacon heaven. We all loved it, and rubbing the garlic on the toast was a fun activity with Ava. It certainly cheered her up on an otherwise rough, over-hungry night.

What I loved least about this dish:

Ok, ok. This isn’t the healthiest dish I’ve made on this blog. There’s actually a quick way to make it more health conscious: simply brush on the bacon drippings, using a light touch.

Slovak Sour Bean Soup [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

On days when even your bones feel cold, this soup will heat you up.  I love that it’s a simmer and forget about it soup. I also adore the fact that, in cooking the bacon for the garnish, the drippings can be used for the Bacon Garlic Toast. Huzzah!

What I loved least about this dish:

This soup is not pretty but, I assure you, the best things in life can’t be judged by looks alone.  Plus, a little bacon on the top is all anyone needs to feel dressed up. Soup included.

I never expected Ava to react the way she did. She was anything but comforted when she saw her piping hot bowl of Sour Bean Soup. This is basically beans and potatoes cooked with bacon and a splash of vinegar. No biggie. Unless you’re 3 1/2 and overly hungry… and not particularly keen on gloppy soup. Then all bets are off. (You’ve been warned).  To be fair, once her stomach was a little fuller, she relaxed and enjoyed herself.

Quick Blueberry Bublanina [Recipe]

What I loved most about this recipe:

When done correctly, this a  fun, rustic tart with ample charm for any party…. and all kinds of health benefits thanks to the fresh fruit. I love that it’s at once casual but pretty enough for a baby or wedding shower. This was a big win with the family (although the blueberries weren’t an immediate hit with Ava – it’s a texture thing, but once she got used to it, all was well).

What I loved least about this recipe:

Don’t think you know better than grandma when it comes to cooking, and definitely don’t think you know better than someone else’s grandma, from an entirely different country. Let me explain: I first tried to make a quick mix of this recipe and ended up with something more like clafoutis than the “bubbly” “airy” “souffle” like cake I was supposed to get. Trust the Slovakian grandmothers and whip up the egg whites to stiff peaks. The entire recipe counts on it.



  1. Kendra says

    Thank you so much for listening to your readers on this subject! I am relieved that your weekly reviews are sticking around. I can understand how frustrating it must be for the comments on your blog to be disproportionate from your readership, and it is unfortunate that your abundance of comments was negative. This is a good reminder for those of us who read your blog (and other blogs) that commenting should be more of a regular gesture of reassurance for those whose beautiful posts we read.

    • Sasha Martin says

      You’re welcome…! The comments weren’t negative in that sense – they were just saying “no, don’t do that!” … they were kindly stated and confirmed which direction they preferred the blog to go in… In fact, I feel so lucky to have such an amazingly polite group of readers. 🙂

  2. I agree. I am one of those who checks in everyday, but I very seldom write a comment. This is one of my favorite sites, and I could certainly make more of an effort to “report my presence”. I am happy that the Monday Meal Review is keeping its original format. I live in an RV, most of the time at the outskirts of any internet connections, and video is often not easy for me to manage. The “written word” is still what I like best. Thank you, Sasha!

    • Sasha Martin says

      You’re welcome, Rike! Thank you for spending some bandwidth with us every day 🙂 We all have so many choices for how to spend our time, so that means a lot to me. Cheers!

  3. Although I certainly do not have as many readers as you do, stats prove there are so many more people reading than those leaving comments. I also wonder about that , if the love and work we put into our blogs are truly appreciated or if people just skip over and away without too much of a glance. I try to comment on the blogs I read relatively often, but still only do so if I feel like I have something to actually say, rather than just typing “Yum!”. Your lesson taught me a lesson too. Thank you.

    • Sasha Martin says

      That’s a good point – it’s funny, have you noticed how some news sites are a hotbed of commenting, while other’s have maybe 1 or 2 comments at the most per article… and I know that they both have to have incredible traffic… I’ve tried to discern what the difference is, and I think sometimes comments are generated by more “controversial” posts and sites… not controversial in a negative sense, but in the sense that they stir up different opinions. I strive very hard to be a place for neutrality – where all will feel welcome. Anyway, even yum is heard and loved. 😉

  4. Celeste Childress says

    I felt a sudden sense of disappointment when I started to read you blog today. You see, I just knew you were going to say that the video won! As I read on, I jumped back to Hooray Land, where I have been ever since an article in the Tulsa World introduced me to you!

    • Sasha Martin says

      Really, both won! Keith gets to play around with the video still… and I get to continue writing. Double hooray 🙂 Happy to hear where you found the adventure from… that always interests me… thanks!

  5. Nancy says

    Thank you so much for going back to the written reviews. I really enjoy your blog and I read it almost every day. I’ve been with you since I heard about you on FlyLady.

  6. Renee says

    I missed the fiasco of last week, but I do read the blog regularly if not quite all the time. I’m glad you felt loved from the responses. As a silent reader, I feel silly writing in to say, “wow, this sounds amazing!” Even though most things do. For once, I actually had the ingredients on hand to cook as you published, and I made the soup today which is surprisingly delicious. Only surprising because it’s so few ingredients. I also love the archives, and your borscht recipe earned me замечательно (great!) from my Russian teacher when I brought it in to class.

    Thus, don’t feel unappreciated. Your work really is amazing, with the pictures and descriptions and the archives. Thank you for it, and I look forward to the book!

    • Sasha Martin says

      Oh, thank you Renee – I’m so glad your Russian teacher liked the Borscht – that’s the truest test 🙂

  7. Simone says

    Yay!!! Loved hte post!!! and the recipes sound delicious! I haven’t ever made a bean soup, but it sounds awesome to me!! We’lll see how our girls (3.5 and 2) react I guess 😉 now I just have to find that yummy bread somewhere…

  8. Brian S. says

    Oh Sasha you have no idea how many thousands of people eagerly await your writing and read it with love! Judging from my own online reviews, well over a thousand read for every one who leaves a comment. Here is the last comment I have received on my reviews: “The main reviewer on this website rarely finds a meal or restaurant he doesn’t like. And although he likes to think he has serious credibility, I have a feeling most of his credibility left many years ago. I too, only come to this site for new restaurants and also a little laugh when reading the reviews.” And there is no way I can delete this! So be glad you don’t get comments like this. Fortunately, he is totally wrong about my credibility, thank goodness.

    • Sasha Martin says

      Oh that’s hard… sorry to hear that Brian… 🙁 You are one of the best writers I know.

  9. Well, I don’t know about the changes because I have been so terribly busy, but now thank God it’s the holidays. I was very interested to see what the Slovak week consisted of, and here is a link to my blog concerning the time I’d spent there and what we ate.
    (in French and English)
    Now that I have time, I will try the semolina dessert from Saoudi Arabia… and the Slovak sour bean soup when I have some beans 🙂

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