The way we used to live is a mysterious, almost forgotten thing in many parts of the world but in its Croatian corner this is not much of a mystery. In Croatia, most people are only a generation away from ancestors born and bread far from the city life, from Mums or Grandpas who spent their childhoods tending horses, making bread the old fashioned way and running around on meadows. Should you wish to experience life as it was once led, family owned farms are destinations you should not miss.
The region of Srijem has been the home of many great men that are the pride of the entire country since ancient times. There are famous athletes, scientists, actors and poets born in Srijem, including Josip Lucić, Josip Jelačić, Fabijan Šovagović, Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić, Josip Kozarac, Ivica Olić and Goran Vlaović.
When was the last time you saw a skinny Slavonian, let alone a Slavonian from Srijem? Slavonian cuisine is a delightful blend of aromas coming from things like the delicious ham, kulen (flavored sausage) and kulenova seka (a spicy type of kulen sausage), all the way to the large cast iron stew pots filled with beans, lamb and fish stews. With this kind of “dynamite food”, it’s best to ease its way into the stomach with a glass of home-made šljivovica (plum brandy) or some fine wine. You want to end this kind of a meal on a traditional note, so the home-made salenjak (a type of puff pastry made with pork fat and jam), or an apple and walnut strudel should be the perfect match.
The golden nectar in a wine glass has a mysterious origin. Graševina is assumed to have come from Central Europe. Germans have called it Welschriesling since ancient times, which translates as “Romanic Riesling”, while most synonyms in Central Europe are variations on the name “Italian Riesling”. Historians assume that this wine variety found its way to our parts at the time of the Roman Empire. Yet, our name for it, graševina, suggests that it might have come from the Eastern part of the Balkans.
The only true rakija (grappa or brandy) is Slavonian rakija, or so the saying goes. Everything else pales in comparison. This world-famous liquor has an exceptionally rich history. In the Šokadija region, there wasn’t a household or cooperative that did not have its own plum grove. In the 19th century, grappa was prepared in large clay cauldrons or steamers. Every part of the cauldron used to be made from clay and later it was replaced with metal.
When there was a good plum yield, there was no winter: jams would be made, the plums would be dried, but the most passion went into making rakija. Those with money had their own distilleries and cauldrons, while the poor would loan them na ušur (with an interest). They would usually be charged a liter of grappa per cauldron. But in the end everyone distilled their own rakija.
Everybody dreams of time travel, but few have the imagination to make it happen, if only in their minds. If you cannot get you imagination going from the armchair, go to the source – visit the place history was made in and your imagination will be fired up.
Nature is all around us, only at times we do not appreciate it. In Srijem this happens only rarely, because the nature is especially beautiful and people’s lives are still very much connected to it. Those who love to spend a weekend or a vacation close to nature will find an abundance of choice for relaxation and fun in nature.