Traditional Slovenian dishes are mostly based on local ingredients that were accessible at the time. Whatever could be grown or raised would be used in local culinary.
Picked from the garden, straight to the pot was the norm in Slovenian cooking.
These local ingredients were most widely used all over the country:
Grains – for vegetarians and vegans. Wheat, corn, barley, buckwheat and millet are used as a base for many traditional Slovenian dishes. Grains were easy to harvest and store for the season, so that made them a popular choice. Millet and buckwheat porridge topped with dried fruit were regularly on the menu. Buckwheat or corn spoon bread with milk was also an everyday staple.
Meat – for meat lovers. It’s an important part of Slovenian culinary. Pork, beef and poultry being the most popular, followed by fish and lamb. Meat, however, was not eaten daily but was saved for Sundays and special occasions, such as holidays. Sausages, blood sausages and different pork delicacies are enjoyed regularly these days.
Vegetables – for health enthusiasts. Cabbage, turnip, potatoes, beans and pumpkins are the most commonly used vegetables. Previous generations preferred fermented foods over fresh vegetables, mainly for practical reasons. Properly canned, they could be kept in a pantry all year. Sour cabbage and turnip are therefore used in many traditional Slovenian recipes, such as stews, soups and as side dishes.
Fruit – for the sweet-toothed. It’s used in making desserts or spirits such as schnapps and wine. Apples, pears and plums can be found in many orchards throughout the country. Apple and Plum schnapps are widely produced and Pear schnapps, made from a special type of pear – Viljamovka, is a spirit of the highest quality. Then there are Slovenian vines, known for producing high-quality wine, which regularly receives international awards.
Other ingredients were also used besides mentioned above, such as chestnuts and berries foraged in the woods, or herbs picked in meadows. Honey is also widely produced throughout the country, as beekeeping is a very widespread activity in Slovenia. Blueberry and Honey liqueur is very popular aperitifs, as is Juniper spirit.
Historically the majority of Slovenians were farmers, so it’s not surprising that a lot of people keep a small vegetable garden. Those living in urban areas are experimenting with urban gardening.
Foraging and herb picking is also a popular pastime, with masses of people gathering dandelions in spring or chestnuts and mushrooms in autumn.
Living in a geographically diverse country with relatively low pollution and plenty of natural goods is a privilege. A fact Slovenians are well aware of.