Contributor: Peter Simonič
Slovenia experiences a great variety of geographical, historical and cultural elements. The land spreads from the Pannonian plain, across Alps and forest hills, down to the Karst and the Adriatic Sea. Environmental, social and cultural conditions have influenced the art of cookery, which is as diverse as the people themselves. Every region has its specific dishes and drinks, related to the seasonal cycle, whether appropriate for day-to-day cuisine or for special occasions.
Christmas is a time of plenty. As at Easter, the tables are specially overloaded with an exceptional quantity of tasty foods. Two elements were essential for the Christmas table: firstly poultry and secondly breads, cakes and sweets. Different kinds of poultry are the basis of the main course: rooster or turkey in southern parts of the country, chicken in the north and goose or duck in eastern Slovenia. Today this division is not so clearcut. Then family and social wellbeing has always been represented by all kind of breads, cakes and sweets. A special 'ritual bread' is called Popŕtnik, because it is usually covered with a white sheet (the Sovenian word, prt, means a sheet). It stays on the table for two to three weeks. It can be made of wheat, buckwheat or rye, with small pieces of fruits, herbs, etc. Ingredients depend on the region, family tradition and personal taste.
However, if there is one single, nationally most popular Christmas food, it has to be Potica (pronounced potitza). This straight or rolled-up bread is preferably filled with walnuts, but it can sometimes, in some places, be filled with fried onions and/or small pieces of salt pork.
* * (c)Copyright 2008 Peter Simonič, Helen Macbeth. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce and distribute copies of this Introduction to Christmas food in Slovenia solely for the purposes of non-profit domestic use or non-profit educational purposes in either case provided that copies are distributed at or below cost and that the author's source and copyright notice are included on each copy.