I grew up in a traditional European family. The kind of family that swear by big Sunday lunches. Big Sunday lunches that always begin with soup. Whatever follows the soup varies from Sunday to Sunday; but in our house it wasn’t Sunday unless you had soup! Beginning a big meal with a spoon is just an example of one of the culinary customs we observed and one, among many traditions that has shaped my relationship with food today.
Let me paint a picture for you. My parents make their own sauerkraut in gigantic barrels in their basement . In the winter, my dad makes sausages, cures his own ham (šunka) and bacon (špek) and makes his own wine in the fall. My mom makes her own soup noodles, because you will never find noodles as thin as my mother’s in a grocery store. They make jam, pickle beets, hot peppers, cucumbers, anything that comes out of their garden. They roast peppers and can tomatoes. The list goes on and on.
Sunday afternoon visits to my grandparents was another tradition that has stuck with me all these years. It just wasn’t Sunday unless we visited Baka and Deda. There we would play with our cousins, tell Baka about our week at school and watch TV with Deda. My fondest memories of those visits were the treats Baka and Deda prepared. Strudel (štrudle), crépes (palačinke) filled with jam or cheese, walnut and poppy-seed rolls (štruce) and my favourite, fresh, homemade doughnuts (krofne) filled with plum jam. Thus, life was good growing up and the food even better. Then life hits you. You become an adult. You’re suddenly forced into the real world. A world that is like a blank canvas where you are the artist and you get to choose how your landscape will evolve.
Almost five years ago I moved out and began painting my own future. I went to school, got a job and got married. It’s been two and a half years of blissful marriage and fun in the kitchen. During these two and a half years I’ve realized two important things. One, I am a cooking fanatic; and two the traditions my parents and grandparents instilled in me are more important than ever. I’ve taken on the role of a wife and hopefully one day a mother and realized that I want to give my own family the love, warmth, good food and sense of belonging that I felt as a child.
Traditional European cooking, peasant cooking, the type of cooking that our grandmother’s took so much pride in, is becoming a dying art form. In the hustle and bustle of modern-day life we’re losing touch with a lifestyle that is healthy, sustainable, economical and above all, one that tastes sooooo good! But it’s also a lot more than that. It’s about sharing it with the people you care about. Feeling a sense of pride in what you’re putting out on the table and fostering a positive relationship with food that centres on family and making traditions.
So maybe you’re looking for a simpler way to cook, or perhaps you’re scouring the internet for a gnocchi recipe like your Nona use to make, or maybe you’re in need of an idea for dinner tonight. Whatever the reason I’m thrilled you came for a visit. So without further ado, my name is Ana and welcome to The Suburban Peasant. I hope you enjoy your stay!