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Nutrition in General

The inhabitants of this village did not have a great variety of foods. Their diet was based on traditional dishes which can still be found in many households. People were much more concerned with the quantity of food than the quality of it, because they had to feed large families. Food was mainly void of vitamins, except in the summer months when there was fruit and vegetables.

 

Apart from kruva/kruha (bread), the main dietary supplements in this area were milk and dairy products and when it comes to vegetables it was gra’/grah (beans), kumpijer/krompir (potatoe), cabbage and onions. The people from this area had three meals per day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast was served from nine till ten in the morning. The children who went to school had breakfast around 7 am. It mostly consisted of pura, kajmak, bacon and onions. Between one and two in the afternoon they served stew for lunch. Dinner came before dark, so as not to waste the petroleum lamps. They would eat whatever leftovers they had from lunch or some other lighter food. They also ate salads. During summer months the salad was made with cucumbers, onions, paprika and tomatoes. In the winter they ate preserves, which they would make during autumn, mainly sour cabbage.

 

Meat was rarely eaten and was mainly saved for special occasions. They mostly are chicken, other than that, pork. In this particular village, they also served fish. Pigs were slaughtered in autumn, during the so called krmokolj (time of the year when people slaughter pigs). The meat was air dried and they made blood sausages, žmare/čvarci (cracklings), the meat was put into pajc, that is covered in salt and then eaten in winter, but they always saved some for the start of spring field works.

 

Cookware was made from several different materials. Pots and saucepans were mostly made of metal. For dairy products they used crocks in which they curdled milk. Cheese was kept in small wooden barrels. Grownups ate separately from the

 

Food for special occasions

Special occasions imply: Krsna Slava (every family has its Patron Saint), Christmas, Easter, christenings, weddings…

For Krsna Slava (Patron Saint’s Day) the making of a roast is tradition. It is made a day before by men. Most importantly, everyone makes the Slava cake (similar to bread) and koljivo (boiled wheat blessed after the Divine Liturgy). Other foods they serve are soup, sarma (rice and minced meat rolled into cabbage leaves), cakes and pies. Soups are generally with chicken and homemade pasta. Apart from rice and minced meat, sarma contains air-dried meat, bacon, onions and spices. A mixture with these ingredients is rolled into a sour cabbage leaf and then boiled. The cakes they made were usually all dry- šape and patišpanj (slight variations on biscuit), different jam-filled rolls etc. They also made sweet apple pies with apples they served as a special treat, while the salty version mostly came with cheese.

For Christmas, spit roasting a pig was common practice. When people didn’t have an entire pig, they roasted just the ham hock and saved it for Christmas Day, which came after the pig slaughtering months. They would also roasted chickens. The lady of the house would get up early and bake special bread called pogača (Christmas bread) in which she would traditionally insert a coin. Apart from pogača, cicvara was also traditional, same as coockies.

Boiled eggs were obligatory on Easter. The eggs were decorated on Good Friday. Patterns were made with wax and then the eggs were boiled in onion skins. Apart from eggs, there would usually be a stewed cured ham hock, while the rest of the meal varied from one household to the next.

On christenings and other festive occasions, the food resembles the one prepared on Patron Saint’s Day, minus the Slava cake and koljivo (boiled wheat).

Food during Fasting

Not a lot of people fasted in this area. Only the elderly fasted for the entire duration of the fast and only on Good Friday did the majority of the population fast as well. No animal source foods could be eaten during fasting, except for fish. The meals consisted mostly out of potatoes, cabbages and beans. If people were fasting during the summer months, they would eat a lot of vegetables. The dishes traditionally made on Good Friday were mashed beans and potato salads and almost all households would try to serve fish on that day.

Beverages

Apart from regular water which was the main beverage in this area, people drank a lot of milk as well. Dairy products they consumed quite often were sour milk and surutka (whey) as they were very refreshing, especially during summer. Women prepared homemade grape and blackberry juices.

When it comes to alcoholic beverages, they drank rakija (homemade schnapps). While doing physical chores they would drink a milder kind of rakija known also as brlja. On Patron Saint’s Day and other special occasions they served šljivovica (plum schnapps) or kruška (schnapps made from wild pears).

One type of refreshment was turšija (one of the winter preserves) and raso (brine - the liquid in which cabbage was preserved in). Unlike coffee, they didn’t have a habit of drinking tea. It was usually reserved for people who were sick.

Milk and Dairy Products

Milk represented the main food source for people in this area.  They first used milk in the form of varenika, which is simply the name for boiled milk. Along with that, they used various dairy products: cheese, sour milk, skorup (cream), surutka (liquid squeezed out of freshly made cheese or other dairy products), čvrsti kajmak (type of cream), tučeni sirac (type of cheese)…

Kiselo mlijeko (sour milk) was made by pouring varenika into earthen pots who were then stored someplace warm for about two days. Kiselo mlijeko was mostly combined with kuruz/kukuruza (type of corn bread), but it was sometimes served with plain bread or as a drink. In most cases, however, it was used for making other milk based produce.

Skorup/povlaka (cream) was composed of the higher-butterfat layer skimmed from the top of milk that was let to sit for a while. People used to eat it on bread or combine it with other dishes.

There were several types of sir (cheese). Mladi sir (young cheese ) was the most popular. It was made from fresh milk , which was boiled and then stored inside a dried pig's stomach. The process or milk turning into cheese was called sirenje. The milk would acidify and this would speed up the coagulation process. The solids were dried out though a dishcloth. The liquid pressed out of any dairy product was called surutka and it was either served as a drink or used in stewes.

Ljuti sir (ripened cheese) was made from young cheese kept in small wooden pots for up to 15 days. It was served as a sidedish or fried on lard and served as the main dish.

Tučeni sir was made with well dried out and crumbled ljuti sir.  It was huddled inside a wooden pot with a wooden pestle, generously salted and covered with pig lard to prevent it from going bad. This cheese was used for making a dish called popara on Mali Božić (January 1st of the Julian calendar, New Year's Day).

Čvrsti kajmak (type of cream) was made from skorup. Skorup was salted and left in earthen pots for several days, then dried out.

Pasta and flour dishes

Sprema was made from cooked wheat flour and boiled milk.

Cicvara was made similarly to sprema, boiled milk and corn flour were mixed with cream.

Pura was made with corn flour, cooked in water until it would thicken and then piece by piece it would be added into boiled milk. Pura was sometimes combined with old cheese or a lard based thickener.

Popara was made from stale bread cut into tiny cubes and mixed with boiled water and beaten cheese. This dish was also made from kovrtanj (Christmas bread) and eaten on Mali Božić (January 1st of the Julian calendar, New Year's Day).

Omač was made from thin dough and milk. The dough was made with wheat flour, thinned out with a rolling pin and then cut into strips which were baked on the cooking stove in a baking tin. When they were done, they would be cut into noodles and then boiled in milk.

Banjgur was made from corn or wheat flour mixed in with milk and left to boil. When it was almost done, either cream or skorup would be added in. Banjgur was cooked in earthen pots over a low fire as it had to simmer the entire day.

Kruh (bread) was the main source of nutrition for people in this area. There were two kinds of bread: regular bread and slavski kolač (the Slava bread) which was baked especially for the Patron Saint’s Day.  On Christmas they also baked pogača, which differed from bread in only one ingredient- yeast. Bread was made with yeast. For instances when there were shortages of it, they would dry and store small breads of which they would take out pieces to put into the fresh made bread dough to serve as yeast.

Kuruza (kukuruza) is a type of corn flour bread. It was very common and it went with all dishes or was boiled in milk and served separately for breakfast or dinner.

Ljevuša was made from flour, water and salt. There were two kinds: wheat and corn flour ljevuša. Flour was first mixed in with water, then salt and eggs. This dough different from others because of a type of casserole it was baked in. When it was almost done it was covered with cream or skorup. It was served both as the main dish or as a substitute for bread. When it was the main dish it was eaten with cheese or bacon (in the winter).

Kolačići were made almost the same as ljevuša, but the dough needed to be a bit more thicker and it was deep fried in a pan in hot lard. They were mostly eaten with cheese, bacon, onions or jam.

Pita (pie) was the favorite dish in this area. It was made for special occasions or during work season. Thick dough was prepared and separated into several different buns, which were thinned out with a rolling pin. This thinned out dough was then covered with cheese and lard, rolled and put into a casserole for baking. When it was almost done it was covered with hot water and cream. There were several different kinds of pie: potato, cheese, apple etc.

Prevrte were made from the same dough made for bread, the only difference being that pieces of it were deep fried in lard same as kolačići and eaten instead of bread.

Krofne (doughnuts) were made with thick dough. The dough was thinned out with a roller pin and then cut into round shapes with a glass and left to rise, then deep fried in lard.

Vegetable dishes

Piskavica is an agricultural area so people generally included a lot of vegetables in their nutrition. Vegetables were in most cases the main ingredients in stews, but they were also grilled and eaten as salads.

Beans were prepared in several different ways. In most cases they were simply boiled and made as a rich stew, usually with smoked meat. Another type of preparation was mashed beans. Beans were cooked and sieved, then squashed and mixed with a thickener made out of red paprika and onions. Mashed beans were often served during fasts, especially on Christmas Eve.

Potatoes were also made in a number of ways. In most cases they were simply baked in the oven, either peeled and cut into small slices or unpeeled and whole. Whole baked potatoes were peeled and eaten salted or mashed and mixed with kajmak (skimmed cream) or skorup (cream). Potatoes were also cocked as a stew or more precisely a thick potato broth.

Cabbage was usually cooked. Young cabbage was common during the summer months, while in winter people prepared pickled cabbage. The water in which the pickled cabbage was preserved and held is called raso and was used as a drink. Cabbage was also served as salad.

Onions was used to enhance flavours of almost all dishes, but also as part of a main course when fried with bacon or eggs. It was eaten in salads as well.

Paprika grew well in this region so it was served as a main dish, a salad and often as a side dish with other meals. A dish called sataras (similar to goulash) was made out of paprika.

Pods were also grilled or used for soups.

Meat dishes

Poultry meat was the most commonly consumed in this area. Roasted chicken was usually served on holidays or special occasions. More commonly, small pieces of meat were made ingredients in other dishes.

Pork was mainly eaten in winter, in particular during the pig slaughtering season. Most often it was simply roasted, while other times it was cooked in stews. Sausages, blood-sausages and žmare/čvarci (cracklings) were all made with pork. Žmare came as a byproduct in the lard making process. Often, pork was consumed cured (referred to as iz pajca, meaning “from salt”), for it was the tastiest as such and it was air dried as well.

Winter Preserve

Preserves were made during autumn with fresh homegrown vegetables. Cabbage was preserved the most. Cabbage heads were pickled in big wooden vats, while grated cabbage was stored in smaller ones. Cucumbers were pickled in glass jars or earthen pots. Cucumbers were first stacked one on top of the other and then covered with boiled water, salt and cider vinegar. Green tomatoes were pickled the same way and the same was done with paprika, the only difference being that they were steamed beforehand.  Paprika was sometimes filled with grated cabbage. Another winter preserves was turšija, made with wild apples, pears, pomegranate, sloes etc. The fruit was eaten and the juice i.e. turšija was served as a beverage. Jams were mostly made with hew and cornel berries. There was also honey the people collected from their private bee hives. They also dried apples, pears and hews for making tea.