A brief intermission from the World Wonder adventures and a quick explanation or demonstration of Slovenian’s love for pork. Dickers, this ones for you! Beth, I’m sorry!
I never noticed the plethora of pork consumed in Slovenia until my beef-craving father came for a visit. It was his second time coming to Slovenia, and many of my teammate’s wanted to host us for dinners, lunches, snacks, etc. The hospitality in this country is indescribable, come for a visit and you’ll experience this first hand (see examples). After about a week my Dad said to me, “No more pork. I’m going to turn into a pig!” All I could do was laugh. Of course he wasn’t complaining when we was stuffing grilled sausages, freshly cut slices of prosciutto and perfectly baked pork tenderloin down is throat. But it was at that moment that I realized, we sure do eat a lot of pork and I kinda love it. There are so many ways to consume “the other white meat” and I haven’t found a way I didn’t enjoy.Examples: Keegan’s schnaps and prosciutto experience five minutes into walking into Nejc and Matic place, April and Zach’s mussel and civapcici feast via the Kovacic family again, Emily’s calamari extravaganza at my president and teammate’s house, Matt receiving homemade marmalade filled donuts from Teja’s grandma, my Dad has experienced it too many times to count and of course for me it’s a weekly occurrence. And yes, all of these basically include the triple threat of hospitality, welcoming home, food and drinks. It is fairly common in Slovenia for a family to buy a whole or half of pig and then slice it up and make different cured meats. Salami is the most common, and “easiest.” Pancetta (a dried type of bacon) and prosciutto are also very popular choices. This year the boys decided they would buy their own half-pig together so that they could make some salami and pancetta. Our good friend Vasja was in charge of the whole project (his family buys a whole pig every year) and found a 250 kilo (500+) pig that they would split with his aunt’s family. On butchering day (sometime in December) we went out to Seki (where Vasja’s grandparents have a little “vacation home”) and the boys started slicing away.
NOTE: I apologize to all the vegetarians out there! And maybe don’t keep reading! But if it makes you feel any better, these pigs are free range and live a lovely life on Slovenian farmland.
So to break it down, basically you put a half a pig (cut long-wise) on a plastic-covered table (think Dexter) and you start cutting off and separating all the good meat and fat. But don’t throw the fat away!! No no, that’s the tasty stuff. You’ll use some in the sausage for extra flavor, or maybe dry some out to use for soups and you can keep the skin and make some homemade chicharones…the possibilities are endless! After the slicing and dicing (this takes the longest), then you put the meat into a grinder and make yourself some fresh ground pork (mixing in some fat here and there). After all the meat is processed, then comes the seasoning…bring in Nona (grandma, oma)!
After seasoning with salt, pepper and garlic juice (garlic cooked and squeezed) the mixing begins. Again, on the huge table, everyone just gets their hands in there and starts mixing. Nona then takes a little and cooks it up to test the seasoning, and when everyone gives the thumbs up you move on to casing. I actually helped for this part, a very important job, I got to push the on/off switch…ohhhhhhhhh, the power!There were a few pieces of the pig that we didn’t cut up into pieces…the stomach meat (not sure what it’s called). American’s would all think, “yum, bacon!” but the Slovenians hang and dry this to make pancetta. The pork tenderloin is also saved, but also partially hung and dried before cooked. The sausages are dried for however long you prefer, if you like a soft tender salami you only have to dry it for a month and a half or two. If you are more into the harder chewier salamis you just leave it to dry out a little longer. All depends on your preference. Also, you can make a mostly fat salami (pictured up top), which is a favorite of Vasja’s mom. We didn’t make any fat salamis, but I’m not going to lie, it sounds kind of delicious.
When I came back to SLO after Christmas break we had a taste testing. The salami was delicious and the boys also cooked up the ribs. The ribs were a bit too salty for my taste, and they had hung and dried them a bit and then baked them in the oven, so they were very dry compared to the ribs we eat in America. I told them that next time I’ll handle the ribs! It was decided that the salami would hang a bit longer to get just a tad bit harder, then we would package it for safe keeping.Last week we went back out to Seki and the vacuum sealing began, but first we had to take all the casings off. The easiest way to do this is to dip the sausages in lukewarm water, then the “skin” just peels right off. We had a pretty good little assembly line going, and we packaged them all (while eating a few along the way) in about an hour.Now the boys can save them for anytime they all get together, which is pretty often, I don’t think they’ll last too long! I’m pretty sure they have all agreed that next time they’ll get the whole pig, and maybe experiment on some of the meat (my vote was a spicy salami)!
After everything was packed and cleaned it was time to relax, drink some beer and eat some of our “hard” work! How much would you pay for some homemade salami?!?!
Oh, and I couldn’t pass up this portrait of Tito! Classic!
Note: Here’s Tito’s wiki page, educate yourselves! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josip_Broz_Tito Note: I know I said this was the boys thing…luckily I’m like the annoying little sister that always tags along (when Uros says it’s ok). AND sometimes Jelena is there with the kids, so at least I can hang with them.