I am finally back on Australian soil for long enough to write about my recent travels.
After visiting so many countries in a short space of time, it was hard to choose a subject to write about because there is simply so much to write about. I have chosen food; the tastes, aromas, experiences and observations.
As a photographer, it quite surprises me that food (simply thinking about, cooking, seeing recipes online or my own photographs) brings back more memories to me of places than ‘just’ my photos!
I love to cook and as I’m writing this I’m cooking potatoes to make German Potato Dumplings for the very first time. Later on this week, I am going to attempt Polish Pierogi and sometime next week, I will choose another dish to cook from my friend, Jarmila Hlavkova’s award-winning ‘A Taste of Slovakia’ Cookbook.
Speaking of Jarmila, I’d like to share my tales of visiting her in Slovakia recently. I had gotten so close to Jarmila twice already, so the third time I was in her region of the world, I made a great effort to meet her. I am so glad I did.
I have been selling her cookbook for a little while and love it. It really is unique and encapsulates her passion for her culture, in every way. As the title says it’s not only (a) cookbook! On my last trip I was travelling with a friend, also a great cook, so that was another reason to make the extra effort to get back to Slovakia. I thought they would enjoy meeting each other, which they did.
Jarmila (and her husband, Paul) were ever so kind and not only picked us up from the Zilina station many hours later than expected (we missed our connecting transfer due to the bus from Krakow, Poland being almost an hour late with originally only ten minutes to transfer to a train from Ostrava, Czech Republic to Zilina, Slovakia) but they insisted we stay with them in their lovely apartment. Jarmila had also prepared us fish for dinner that night. How lucky were we? These are the amazing travelling experiences that not only show you a different place and people, but also the real culture.
I feel so honoured to have been able to watch (and smell) Jarmila cooking in her own kitchen. One of my favourite photos of my entire two month trip is that of her apron hanging in her kitchen. I was fascinated at how beautifully simple, practical and pretty her kitchen, and everything in it, was. Especially that apron which she slung on with ease and grace every time she tended to something in the kitchen.
Every morning we would awake to a healthy breakfast of Slovakian yoghurt and cheese (I ate so much of the cheese. It was beyond fabulous), lettuce, capsicum, tomatoes, sliced meat and fresh bread. (Thanks so much, Jarmlia!) It was a beautiful start to the day, sitting at her kitchen window watching the treetops swaying gently in the breeze and Spring sunshine. And then there was lunch.. Homemade soup. Just so good. So inspiring!
On another morning my friend and I awoke to the delightful aroma of Jarmila cooking her Bandit Goulash (Zbojnicky Gulas). I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful that was. On that final day staying with Jarmila, we had a family lunch with her, Paul and their son Matt, which consisted of the goulash and then a delicious dessert of fresh strawberries and Slovakian icecream (oh my, how I LOVE European icecream!). Sitting at the table in the living room, surrounded by welcoming people and great rustic food was the best send off from Zilina ever.
I will write more about Zilina and Slovakia in my next post, but for now, I have Potato Dumplings to make. I think I should get a new apron…
Cheers for now,