Cook Eat Slovenia is one of the most successful books on Slovenian cooking aimed at an English-speaking audience, a collection of seasonal recipes that’s a clear and beautifully produced guide to potica, štruklji, gibanica, žlikrofi, kremšnita, mlinci and many more classics of the local table.
As we noted in our review when it was launched in 2019, back when eating out was possible, “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.”
It's a well-written, well-made book. Photo: Mateja Jordović Potočnik
It's a great book, still available in stores and online, and while in happier days the author – Špela Vodovc – also offers in-person cooking classes and culinary tours, that side of her work has obviously been on hold along with the rest of the travel and tourism industry in Slovenia. Until now, that is, as Špela is coming back with a one-off opportunity to learn how to all make your Easter brighter and more Slovenian.
Photo: Mateja Jordović Potočnik
This year Easter Sunday is on 4 April, and you can prepare for the big day by taking a live, online video class in English with Špela and learn how to make Potica and decorate eggs using natural dye. The class will be hosted on YouTube, thus avoiding the awkwardness of Zoom calls and letting you relax, watch and cook alone, no matter what your wearing or how much you swear as you cook.
The class will take place on Friday 2 April from 17:00 to 20:00, and all you need to do is make sure you have access to a kitchen, a screen with internet access and the ingredients listed at the end of this story. Registration is required, and costs €35 per person, and can be done by clicking on the event under the calendar here.
Look for this
If you can’t make it, then do check out the book and some of the recipes it contains, such as Tarragon Potica, Easter Breakfast - Velikonočni Zajtrk, Three Kinds of Slovenian Easter Eggs and Potato and Pasta, or Grenadirmarš. If you can make the class, then don’t forget to register and make sure you have the following ingredients ready for 17:00 Friday, 2 April 2021.
Prepare and measure ingredients in advance
Place the eggs and yeast at room temperature at least half an hour before baking.
You will also need
2 medium-size cooking pots
STA, 22 March 2021 - Nation-wide exams for primary school children in years six and nine were cancelled last year due to coronavirus, but they are planned to be held as usual this year. The exam is taken with a pen and paper, and it will be no different this year. But to test the option of taking it online, a special pilot project is being launched today.
From Monday to Friday, more than 40,000 pupils in forms six and nine at 441 primary schools will be taking the exam online - on a computer or a tablet - to get the ropes.
Every school has been assigned the day and several slots to carry out the e-trail exam, with the majority of kids to take it in a computer classroom at their school.
Up to 5,000 pupils will be sitting for the exam simultaneously, for which reason schools have been divided into two approximately equally large groups.
The pilot project is designed to test how the network works if used by several thousand pupils at the same time and which problems may emerge, Darko Zupanc, the director of the National Examinations Centre, said on Friday.
This should allow education authorities to see whether it would be possible for the exam to be simultaneously taken at all primary schools, or also at home.
Kids will be able to use various online tools to do the assignments, while they will have a chance to retake the exam on their home computer later on the same day.
The electronic exam will not be graded because it is not meant to test knowledge, so children will get no test results.
At the end of the exam, they will have to answer several questions on their examination experience.
Zupanc said the data obtained from this pilot project should facilitate development of systemic tools for exams and grading with new technologies, especially in case of distance learning.
The national exams for primary schools were introduced 20 years ago and were last year cancelled for the first time.
However, they are not compulsory and have no bearing on the pupils' final grades, but there is also an idea to introduce them for children in third form.
The exams are not meant for schools to compare how well their pupils are doing in comparison with other schools, but for individual schools to evaluate their own work, the head of the national commission for the nation-wide exams in primaries, Janez Vogrinc, said on Friday.
The exam is taken in three stages; children in year six will this year take it in their mother tongue on 4 May, maths on 6 May and the foreign language on 10 May.
But Slovenian Headteachers' Association president Gregor Pečan believes that in the given situation, the national exams for primaries should not be held this year at all.
A month and a half after primaries reopened following a four-month closure, gaps in knowledge are starting to emerge, he said at today's government Covid briefing.
Pečan also recalled that the exams had been cancelled last year while pupils had been distance learning only for approximately two months.
"The majority of headteachers and other educators maintain that what is needed more is peace and support to rectify the situation as soon as possible."
Although admitting not everything was as gloomy as some see it when speaking of "a lost generation", he said "very good planning will be needed to restore the situation this year and in coming school years to get the generations to the level we want".
For the same reason the headteachers are against organising various competitions for primary school children, urging "immediate suspension" of competition activities, which he said were now fully underway.
Pečan also touched on today's launch of testing whether national exams could be taken online, saying the information he had showed there were many problems.
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STA, 19 March 2021 - University professors, teachers, municipal officials and journalists have gained the most trust of the public during the Covid-19 epidemic in Slovenia, while police officers have lost the most public trust, shows a survey by the pollster Valicon.
The survey, carried out between 26 February and 5 March on a sample of 1,032 adults, is part of the ongoing Mirror of Slovenia series that was launched in December 2012.
Valicon said on Friday as it presented the poll that the rate of trust in small Slovenian companies was up by 11 points compared to the previous measurement to 63 points to solidify them on the top of the list for organisations.
The "company or organisation in which you work" remains second on the list (44), after recording an eight-point growth, and education is third, followed by shops and retailers and large Slovenian companies.
The list of organisations with a positive rate of trust concludes with healthcare, military and police, with healthcare and police having lost some of the public trust since June 2020 - the former three and the latter six points.
Compared to November 2019, healthcare has actually gained 19 points, while the negative trend for the police continues, as their rate is down by 12 points. The rate is at 14 points, compared to the highest measured rate of 33 in 2014.
The key institutions of the executive and legislative branches of power and the Catholic Church are at the bottom of the list. The National Assembly is last with the rate of -60, which is actually a 5-point growth compared to the previous poll.
Government coalition parties have a rate of -58 (a 2-point growth) and the government a rate of -57 (a 3-point drop), and the list of institutions with a rate of below -50 concludes with the Catholic Church (-54).
The most trustworthy profession is still that of a firefighter, followed by nurses and scientists, while doctors, (small) entrepreneurs and teachers also enjoy the trust rate of above 50.
At the bottom of the list are "politicians in general", who trail government ministers, state officials, priests and company directors.
The selection of the winning entry concluded the 13th international Plaktivat competition, which this year was centred on the social concept of solidarity. A total of 336 submissions were entered in the competition, of which 176 arrived from abroad and 160 from Slovenia. The final submissions came from 28 different countries.
The expert panel – consisting of Sašo Petek (Agencija 101), Katja Petrin Dornik (Grey), Vasja Grabner (AV studio), Domen Husu (Yin Young), Martina Kokovnik Hakl, Luka Bajs (Grey), Tomaž Drozg (TAM-TAM) – was most convinced by the creative solution “Snežak” – “Snowman” by Peter Zabret, Rok Flego, and Lenart Slabe of the Pristop agency, as seen at the top of this story.
Sašo Petek, creative director at Agencija 101 and chairman of the panel described the chosen entry as follows: “The winning poster fits all the criteria of a good poster and simultaneously succeeds in presenting the complex theme of solidarity in an original, simple, and warm way. Its playfulness speaks to all generations and inspires solidarity in all of us.”
This time, the TAM-TAM Institute’s Plaktivat aims were to stimulate and strengthen solidarity in society, open a discussion on the fundaments of the values of solidarity, and reflect on the role of solidarity in forming a better society in our future.
In recent years Plaktivat competitions have been receiving an increasing number of student entries, which is why the organisers decided that this year would be the first to include a student category. In total 117 works were entered by students, with the winner being chosen by Nejc Trampuž, Alja Herlah, Blaž Rat, Alja Horvat in Nejc Prah. The lucky entrant in the student category is Tina Nunar (Academy of Figurative Arts, Univesity of Ljubljana), with the poster seen below.
Design: Tina Nunar
The posters promoting solidarity are already on the streets and can perhaps be seen in a neighbourhood near you as they’re appear on 500 TAM-TAM poster locations across Slovenia. If not, don’t worry – you can seem below.
Design: Chia Hsiang Lee, Taiwan
Design: Zlatan Dryanov, Bulgaria
Design: Nenad S. Lazić, Serbia
Design: He Huang, China
Design: Yuanchao Wang, China
Design: Alja Herlah, of Type Salon, Slovenia
Design: Metka Knap, Slovenia
Design: Lara Oset and Eva Gjörek, of Agencija 101, Slovenia
Design: Katrin Bittnerová, Czech Republic
STA, 17 March 2021 - Murder or attempted murder charges more than doubled in Slovenia in 2020 compared to 2019. Last year marked the first time the country saw three triple murders in a single year, all of them being domestic homicides. The trend appears to be continuing this year.
The police processed 16 cases of murders and 29 cases of attempted murder last year, which makes 2020 one of the worst years in this respect in Slovenia's recent history.
In the first months of 2021 the trend has continued: until 15 March, seven murders or murder attempts were recorded.
Underlining the gravity of the trend, the figures do not include the most recent three cases, for which charges have not yet been brought. Nor do they encompass cases - resulting in at least two deaths - where the perpetrator committed suicide afterwards and there were no charges.
Moreover, the statistics are only a reflection of the number of such offences and not the total number of murder or murder-suicide deaths.
Most of these cases are domestic homicides, including intimate partner murders that are often escalations of a domestic violence situation.
The most recent murder-suicide case, which took place near the town of Šmarje pri Jelšah on Monday, suggests such an escalation, with police saying that the most likely motive for the killing was a years-long conflict between the male perpetrator and the female victim.
The Ljubljana Social Work Centre has recorded 680 reports of domestic violence so far this year. In 125 cases restraining orders have been issued and in 43 cases the victim or victims have been moved to a safe house.
The actual prevalence of domestic violence is much greater though, says the centre, noting that such a type of violence, particularly intimate partner violence, is often a hidden problem, swept under the rug due to the stigma surrounding it.
As a result it is difficult to identify, report or prevent domestic violence. Victims often need a lot of expert-based support to speak out, the centre officials says.
Since the start of the epidemic, the centre has not recorded any rise in such reports, warning this does not automatically translate into a lull in such cases. Due to Covid restrictions as people spend more time at home, the victims might find it harder to seek help now that the perpetrators are more present.
Social work centres around Slovenia advocate a zero tolerance policy on domestic violence, warning that despite promising trends in recent years the level of tolerance is still too high.
In most cases the victims are women, however children's safety and health is also at stake and they come first when processing such cases. The experts highlight that living in a domestic violence environment is enough to deem a child a victim of it.
Any type of violence should be reported, the Ljubljana centre says, adding that there are various support platforms for victims. It says any threats by the perpetrators or victims' fears are being taken seriously.
STA, 15 March 2021 - Criminal complaints have been filed against eight persons and two legal entities as part of an investigation of alleged trafficking in human beings or abuse of prostitution in a night club in Šentilj. The scheme involved at least 38 women victims and is believed to have fetched the criminal gang at least EUR 207,000.
The investigation culminated last Wednesday with house searches carried out at 13 locations, with criminal police officers identifying at least 38 victims, mostly from the Dominican Republic.
Criminal complaints have been filed against two legal entities and eight persons, one of whom is still in detention.
The suspected criminal acts in the night club on the border with Austria near Maribor are believed to had been taking place for several years, Beno Meglič, head of the criminal police of the Maribor Police Department, told the press on Monday.
The police have found out using covert methods that the scheme was performed by a criminal gang in which every member had very specific roles.
"The gang was headed by a 40-year-old Slovenian citizen who, together with his wife, a 35-year-old citizen of the Dominican Republic, ran the night club," Meglič said. The club was leased from a 63-year-old Slovenian citizen.
The gang recruited at least 38 women, mostly form the Dominican Republic, but also from Serbia, Romania, Paraguay, Croatia, Venezuela, Colombia, Ukraine and Slovenia.
According to Meglič, the suspects took advantage of the socio-economic situation of the women in their native countries as a recruitment tool.
Some of them were lured to Slovenia under the pretence of a well-paid waitress job, and they were accommodated at various locations in and around Maribor. From there they were taken to the night club, where they had to provide sex services.
The scheme did not stop even during the Covid-19 lockdown, which according to Meglič "shows how utterly careless and irresponsible attitude the gang had towards the victims and visitors, and to public safety and health in general".
The price of sexual services was set in advance at EUR 140 per hour, with the women receiving only part of the payment, as they first had to give most of the money to the gang as reimbursement of costs of transfer to Slovenia.
"Only when they repaid this debt, they started getting their share. They were able to stop doing prostitution only when the gang allowed it or when they managed to recruit, under the pretence of a well-paid waitress job, at least two other women who would then had to do prostitution themselves," he added.
The victims, aged 25-35, were under constant surveillance and some of them formally married Slovenian citizens in order to get residence permits. The first estimates say that the criminal gang has earned at least EUR 207,000 with the scheme.
Under the Slovenian criminal code, between three and 15 years in prison and a fine is envisaged for a criminal act of trafficking in human beings as part of a criminal gang.
Meglič added that criminal police officers were also looking into suspected criminal act of money laundering committed by the mentioned 40-year-old and the 63-year-old Slovenian citizens.
According to the newspaper Večer, the suspects include Zlatko Župec, the person who leased the Tropicana night club, and its owner Bojan Belna, who is a member of the Šentilj municipal council from the Democratic Party (SDS).
Meglič did not mention any specific names today for the sake of protection of personal information. "I may confirm that no political party was subject of investigation in these preliminary proceedings," he added.
STA, 15 March 2021 - Slovenia awarded citizenship to 1,900 foreigners residing in the country in 2019, which is a 5% drop in comparison to the year before, show statistics published by Eurostat on Monday.
While Slovenia recorded a 5% drop, an increase of the same percentage was recorded in the EU overall, shows the data that excludes the United Kingdom.
A total of 706,400 people were awarded citizenship by EU member states in 2019, with Germany leading the way with 132,000 citizenships or 19% of all.
Non-EU citizens accounted for 85% of those who were granted citizenship by an EU member state in 2019. In Slovenia, this share was much higher, at 95.7%.
Luxembourg and Hungary were the only EU member states to award more citizenships to citizens of fellow EU members than to non-EU citizens.
The share of women overall was 51.7%, with Slovenia being one of the eight EU member states to award more citizenships to men (59.7%), trailing only Romania (63.9%).
Half of those who were granted a citizenship of an EU member state in 2019 were younger than 32. In Slovenia, the median was just below 29 years of age. Around a third of these persons in Slovenia were children younger than 14.
All the data can be found here
STA, 12 March 2021 - Radio Študent has avoided losing the funding from the University of Ljubljana's Student Organisation (ŠOU) entirely, but says that the EUR 84,000 it will receive for this year nevertheless represents only 70% of last year's sum from ŠOU's budget, which will not be enough for the radio station to function smoothly.
The small independent radio station was at risk of losing funding from the organisation altogether as the first draft of the budget of its founder ŠOU, adopted in early January, envisaged no funds for Radio Študent.
The new version of the budget, adopted yesterday, sees EUR 84,000 earmarked for the radio station, which its the management and editorial board said today posed a threat of serious consequences.
A cut from last year's EUR 120,000, the sum is not sufficient for Radio Študent to function normally, as the core journalist activities, the training programme and many other radio projects will be severely hampered.
Radio Študent added that there were no quick solutions to compensate for the budget cut and that the "development plans for the radio will have to give way to innovative survival strategies due to the reduction of funding by the founder".
The management expects struggle for survival and says it would need to work hard to preserve independence and financial stability of the station, whose survival has been demanded by "almost the entire relevant public home and abroad".
Radio Študent added that the financing problem did not stem from the current financial situation of the founder, but that it was "planned destruction and disciplining of the media outlet that does not bow to the ruling student elite".
Funding of the radio station, launched in 1969, has been on decline for almost a decade. In 2012 it received EUR 230,000, but only EUR 120,000 last year when, during the Covid-29 epidemic, the radio station intensified its reporting and programmes.
The radio station has more than 200 young contributors, who make 17 hours of live radio shows a day.
STA, 12 March 2021 - The government adopted a revised national vaccination strategy at a correspondence session on Friday, making some minor changes after it revised the document adopted on 3 December at the start of March. The strategy now says vaccines will be provided to all residents with permanent or temporary residence, not just to Slovenian citizens.
Soldiers were meanwhile added to the nine groups to be prioritised for vaccines together with police officers, while previously only soldiers leaving for missions abroad were on the priority list.
Earlier in the day, Slovenian Olympic Committee (OKS) secretary general Blaž Perko said the OKS would like Slovenian athletes who will go to the Tokyo Olympics to be vaccinated earlier than planned now.
Under the vaccination strategy, they are in group eight of the nine groups, meaning they will get a jab just before the games, he told the STA.
Perko believes this would be too late for the vaccine to be effective while posing a risk of "potential bodily reactions", so they would like Tokyo candidates to be placed at least at the level of diplomats.
"As ambassadors of the state, athletes represent the state at the international level, so they have to travel and thereby risk getting infected and transmitting the disease".
The strategy was also upgraded with the data about the vaccines in line with the information provided by the country's Agency for Medicinal Products.
What is more, the Oncology Institute in Ljubljana, the country's main cancer treatment centre, was added to the list of vaccination centres.
When the strategy was first revised on 1 March, it was announced that 61 vaccination centres were envisaged, including 13 in hospitals.
Today's revision was needed to bring the document in line with "certain new scientific circumstances related to the vaccines" and to harmonise it with the 7th anti-coronavirus stimulus package, the press release from the Government Communication Office said.
STA, 12 March 2021 - Weddings of up to 10 persons are permitted again across Slovenia bar the coastal Obalno-Kraška region, where the number of participants is capped at three or four persons, including the bride and groom, the Ministry of Labour, the Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities said on Friday.
Minister Janez Cigler Kralj has notified all the administration units in the country of the decree, the ministry said, adding that Covid prevention measures must be observed at weddings.
The red-coded Obalno-Kraška region remains the area with the worst epidemiological situation in Slovenia. Any gatherings are hence banned there, so the decree envisages a stricter protocol to be followed in the event of weddings.
The number of participants is capped at three, including the bride, groom and marriage officiant, or four persons if an interpreter is needed in line with the law.
STA, 12 March 2021 - Exactly a year ago, a coronavirus epidemic was declared in Slovenia after the number of infections jumped to almost a hundred only a week after the first infection. Slovenia was in the epidemic for more than 60% of the last year.
The epidemic was declared by the then Health Minister Aleš Šabeder, who left the ministry the next day.
On the same day Slovenia closed its border with Italy, where the Covid-19 situation was the worst at the time.
The outgoing government also decided that schools on all levels close the next week and that only emergency cases be processed in healthcare.
Not long after that, the country went into a full lockdown to prevent further spreading of the virus, and people's lives changed drastically.
With strict measures and fear over a new, unknown virus, Slovenia was relatively successful in overcoming the first wave of the epidemic, which lasted 80 days, until 31 May.
In the autumn, however, the situation deteriorated again, and the epidemic was declared again on 19 October. Initially for 30 days but then this was extended multiple times to last until this very day.
In line with the latest government decision, adopted at Wednesday's session, the epidemic was extended for another 30 days, meaning until 18 March.
During last autumn and winter, children were mostly learning from home. Primary schools were closed for more than three months and secondary school students returned to their classrooms only recently.
Shops selling non-essential products were also closed for months and only the main services were available. Bars and restaurants are still closed, except for outdoor tables in two regions.
Slovenia has so far recorded almost 200,000 infections and 4,192 deaths due to Covid-19.
Experts are placing all hopes in the vaccines, striving for at least 60% vaccination rate in the population.
The first effective coronavirus vaccine was registered less than a year since the outbreak of the virus and so far four vaccines have been registered in the EU, the last one getting the green light this Wednesday.
However, despite enormous investments in the development of the vaccines, pharmaceutical companies have been unable to deliver enough vaccine for all citizens, so the vaccination strategy gives priority to the elderly, who are the most vulnerable group.
In Slovenia residents and staff of care homes, which have turned out to be the main hotspots of the disease, have already received the vaccine and people over 80 years old have been mostly inoculated too. As a result, the number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals has started to decline and the epidemiological situation seems to be finally improving.
Yet the future seems uncertain. Although the second wave of the epidemic is not over yet, a third wave is being predicted. Three of the new, highly contagious strains of coronavirus have so far been recorded in Slovenia and the British variant seems to be spreading exponentially in central Slovenia.
The latest data on COVID and Slovenia