Some time ago we reported that Špela Vodovc, the woman behind Culinary Slovenia and its food, drink and hiking tours of the country, was starting a Kickstarter to raise funds for a new cookbook that would explain, in clear English and beautiful photos, how to recreate classics from the Slovenian kitchen. That project met its funding goal within a few days, but it’s only recently that I got my hands on a copy of the book itself – by coincidence just in time to recommend it as Christmas or New Year gift to anyone you know who wants to learn the mysteries of potica, štruklji, gibanica, žlikrofi, kremšnita, mlinci and more.
Indeed, the book takes you on a tour of all four seasons and Slovenia’s 24 culinary regions, and with more than 100 dishes over 200+ pages you’re certain to find plenty of old favourites along with some you’ve never heard of. Each recipe is presented alongside a picture of the dish itself – providing inspiration as well as some serving suggestions – and thus the book also works a practical guide to Slovenian cuisine, one that outside the kitchen you can use to spot dishes in the wild and expand the range of items you order from the menu or the market, providing a checklist of things to seek out.
And the recipes are so easy-to-follow, no doubt due to the years of experience the author has explaining these dishes in classes, that anyone who knows a frying pan from a sieve will be able to put together a shopping list, come home and produce the desired results. This is, after all, traditional, hone-style food, made using standard techniques, and the words foam, emulsion and sous vide seem to appear nowhere in the text.
The book itself is a well-made paperback, strongly bound and suitable for the frequent use it’ll enjoy. Although written by Spela Vodovc the book was designed by Gregor Žakelj (of VBG design studio) and the photos taken by Mateja Jordović Potočnik, while the food was styled by Špela and her mother, Branka Vodovc (with the pictures taken in the latter’s home)
As Slovenian cuisine gets more of a global reputation, due to the sterling work of its producers, chefs and promotors, we can expect more books that attempt to explain the canon to interested readers. With Cook Eat Slovenia, Špela Vodovc has set a high standard indeed, and one that’s available for just €24.99. While further distribution is being arranged the easiest place to find a copy is in Felipe Dvore, the fancy kitchenware store just opposite the Tourist Information Centre and next to Lolita Café by Triple Bridge in Ljubljana, or online here – with shipping worldwide in around 10 days for the furthest locations.