Slovenian cuisine (slovenska kuhinja) is very diverse thanks to its small size, but varied landscape and history. Thanks to its neighbors, common dishes found in a Slovene home can range from strudel (Austria), goulash (Hungary), burek (Balkans), and pasta (Italy). But let’s not forget that Slovenia has its own cuisine, which is quite delicious, and it is establishing its place in the international food scene.
The most famous of these recognitions is from Ana Roš from Hiša Franko (rated the 48th best restaurant in the world). In 2017 she was named world’s best female chef and has been featured on Netflix’s Chef’s Table. What I find so compelling about this, other than bragging rights, is that she works with local recipes and ingredients. She is literally putting Slovenian cuisine on the map.
International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts, and Tourism recently awarded Slovenia as a European Region of Gastronomy for 2021. Even BBC Good Food ranked Ljubljana as #3 in their list of Top 10 Destinations for Foodies 2019. Yes, you can book your flights now!
There are 23 gastronomic regions – for a country that is smaller than the state of New Jersey this is so impressive – and good news for me and you.
What does a typical Slovenian meal look like?
If you go to someone’s home for nedeljsko kosilo (Sunday Lunch), which is taken quite seriously, you will be served first a soup, either gobova juha (mushroom soup) or goveja juha (beef soup). Picking mushrooms is almost a sport here so it is possible, depending on the time of the year, to have handpicked fresh mushrooms! If you go with the beef soup it is a very light soup, with an almost clear broth and egg noodles.
If you come to Slovenia then you must try pražen krompir. They translate literally to roasted potatoes but they are not. The potatoes are boiled, then peeled, then sautéed with onions and you end up with this semi-mashed, semi-sautéed potatoes that are so delicious.
You will also usually have a side salad with lettuce and cabbage with vinegar dressing. In restaurants, you can also find beans and other veggies in it. And the meal will be finished off with something sweet and coffee.
Traditional Slovenian Dishes
If you come to Slovenia and would like to try some of the true Slovenian dishes here are a few that I would recommend.
One of the most popular Slovene dishes are these potato-filled dumplings. It is the first Slovenian dish awarded a protected geographical status. It can be served as a side or as the main dish. If you have it in Idrija try it with bakalca, a stew made from mutton and vegetables.
Made of dough and different fillings (often cheese) that have been rolled up and cut into slices. It can be boiled, baked, or fried. You can have them savory or sweet and there are some different variations around Slovenia. I highly recommend going to Velika Planina, not only because I think it is one of the most special places in the world, but because the ričet and struklji are SO. GOOD.
Ričet is another one of those dishes shared by a wider region include Croatia, Austria, and Germany), but I think there are variations between them. It is a thick soup with barley, beans, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and some cured pork. It is the perfect dish on a cold day or after a long hike.
Also known as Carniolan sausage in English. It is granted protected geographic indicator. It must contain 75-80% pork, at most 20% bacon, water, sea salt from Sečovlje salt pans, garlic, and pepper and prepared a very specific way. Order this with some pražen krompir and thank me later. It is a quintessential Slovenian dish and loved by many who try it.
Ajda is buckwheat, žganci is well..žganci, haha. Google Translate insists it means porridge but that is a poor interpretation. Wikipedia shares that it comes from the Slovenian verb žgati, which means to burn, or toast. There are various forms of žganci, and you can find others in parts of Italy and Croatia, but ajdovi žganci is a national Slovenian dish. Made from buckwheat flour, water, salt, oil, and cracklings.
Also sometimes referred to as Istrian Stew you can find it in this region which also includes Italy and Croatia. People always think I am weird for loving this dish. It is a sour soup made with beans, sauerkraut, potatoes, bacon or sausage, and garlic.
This is the first thing everyone asks me if I have tried while living in Slovenia. It seems everyone has a love/hate relationship with this nut roll pastry. They are so proud to call it theirs but when the holidays roll around you eat so many pieces you can’t even think about it for another year. It is made with a sweet dough, filled with ground nuts and honey, and rolled into a log. Although it can be found in different shapes.
Also awarded protected geographical status in Europe, Prekmurksa gibanica is a layered pastry that is more like a cake because of its sheer size. Gibanica has poppy seeds, apples, raisins, walnuts, and quark filling and is just all-around delicious. This is my favorite dessert from Slovenia (sorry kremšnita). Gibanica comes from Prekmurje the eastern-most region of Slovenia.
More to come for Foodie Fridays!
I find the variation of cuisines and learning about their history to be incredibly interesting. You can learn so much about a culture just from the food so that is why I am introducing Foodie Friday/Wandering Eats to my line up of articles. I am excited to dive into a lot of the things I’ve learned or tried and share them with all of you, as well as explore what else Europe has to offer.
I’m looking for people who want to share their food stories with me for upcoming articles. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured in an upcoming post. Thank you again as always for taking the time to read Wandering Helene and follow me on Instagram and Twitter for daily updates! -Helene