3.10.2007

Do you know what I miss?

Spicy food, that's what I miss. The traditional Slovenian diet consists of heavy carbs derived from its wonderful breads and dumplings, and strong doses of protein from pork, turkey (chicken is not so popular here), veal and beef, known collectively as meso, or meat. Horse is also very popular here too, one can smell roasting horsemeat wafting through the streets on some days. I was surprised by the scent - like barbequed spareribs but sweeter and gamier. As described in our trusty guidebook, Slovenian cuisine is "plain and simple, pretty heavy and pretty meaty.*" Furthermore, Slovenia has imported similar cuisines from other parts of Europe as well, like klobasa (sausages) from Austria, njoki (potatoe dumplings) from Italy and gola┼ż (goulash) from Hungary. Borrowed cuisine is understandable, being situated in central Europe. I'm curious as to how indigenous tastes developed in this region. Vegetables used in spicy condiments don't readily grow here, with the possible exception of horseradish (which could easily be imported from Austria via Germany), hence the lack of heat in local food. Another visit to the Enthnographic Museum is in order.

Andrew was kind enough to bring a small bottle of Sriracha from Vancouver, which was really tasty but now it's almost gone . . . the only hot sauces I can find here are Tabasco (too mild) and Louisiana Gold (slightly hotter than Tabasco, but still not enough heat for my palate) in the supermarkets.

As soon as I get back to Vancouver, I'm going out for Thai.

* Reference
Fallon, Steve. Slovenia. Victoria: Lonely Planet, 2004. 45-6.

6 comments:

Jean said...

But don't you have a fair number of ethnic restaurants in Ljubljana now? Chinese, Mexican, Middle Eastern...? Can you get your spice fix that way?

Pickings are a lot slimmer (at least as far as variety is concerned) outside the capital.

Jay said...

You're right Jean, Ljubljana does have a few options. I checked out one of the Mexican restaurants (Cantina, I think) and the heat was decent, but not at the level I'm used to. I tried this appetizer there that was basically a large plate of hot peppers and fried cheese: hot, yes, but a little too greasy.

I've also tried a couple of places selling Middle Eastern dishes (delicious, but heat-wise they don't register) but I haven't tried the Chinese restaurant yet . . . have you been there? Is there anything you would suggest? I'm always on the lookout for potential restaurants.

You did get me thinking - I should keep searching for a decent fix and keep my options open!

Jean said...

At this point there are probably a dozen Chinese restaurants in Ljubljana and surrounding area. I've been to a few, but not frequently and anyway I'm not much of a connoisseur. I like the prices at the one near my daughter's dijaski dom on Poljanska ulica--you can get a set meal, portions large enough to feed two hungry people, for about 5 euros. Not qualified to comment on the quality of the food, I'll gratefully scarf just about anything when I'm hungry, especially if someone else does the cooking.

This page might be useful:

http://www.slovenia-life.com/ljubljana/restaurants/

and this:

http://www.sloveniawelcomes.com/expats/

The expats club organizes monthly dinners at various restaurants. Never been myself but you might want to try it since you're in Ljubljana.

Jay said...

That's cool Jean! Thanks so much for the links!

Disablez said...

There's one nice chinese in Domzale, Kitajsko mesto... it's not so chinese (very europeized dishes) but to us it is a quite nice place.

La cantina mariachi, if that is the name, is not what I'm used to. It has a pair of good dishes, but the top-spicy thingies felt like a sweet to me. And there is also a Spanish one, but of Spanish it only has the name, and the flamenco stereotypes... was ok but not Spanish at all.

So I'm lucky that my wife is such an excellent cook :)

Jay said...

Yes, I believe that's the right name Disablez. I agree, the menu ventured onto the sweet side rather than the earthy, savoury and peppery flavours I'm accustomed to at the moment.

I should check out that Chinese restaurant you mentioned. Isn't it nice to live with talented cooks?