Monday, April 5, 2010

Croatia and the Countryside

We were blessed to have spent Easter Sunday at my husband's grandparents home in Bribir. As we were having lunch I looked around and saw the happiness on everyone's face. I asked hubby, "when was the last time your grandparents had all their four grandchildren together?" He thought for a few minutes then said, "it's been years." The war back in the 1990's affected their family greatly. Hubby's Grandparents, Aunt and cousins were exiled from their farm and seeked refuge in Serbia. Hubby's brother left to Spain and Hubby to the States. Several years after the war ended his grandparents were allowed back on their farm and I couldn't be happier for them.
There is something nostalgic when I visit their home, reminds me of my childhood summers spent in Mexico. Beli wanted the real eggs!

Grandma Vida said that I was free to have a small piece of her garden to plant whatever I wanted. I'm thinking jalapenos seeds. What do you think?

The land is cultivated by Grandpa and Grandma. In spite of being almost 80 years old, they are healthy and strong and I can't help but admire them, as they are such a joy to be around. You can see they are truly happy and are not bitter about the experience they had during the war. I don't ask too many questions because it's still a sad topic.

In case you are wondering why I have this picture of burning ashes, let me explain. These ashes are covering a peka or domed shaped oven which steams the food in its own natural juices, enhancing the flavour. Peka is a traditional Croatian dish which gives you the best grilled meat dish, according to my hubby. Since I'm vegetarian I can't agree or disagree but I will tell you that the bread his grandma made was delicious. With the burning ashes covering the lid, in about 2 hours you will have a hearty meat dish or half an hour for the bread. And of course the meal couldn't be complete without a glass of wine made from the local grapes.

End result was a succulent meal of veal and chicken with roasted potatoes and herbs.

Fluffy warm bread.
I got to pick my own lunch from the garden, who doesn't love organic salads?

Sweet cherry tree blooming and I wait anxiously for its vibrant red fruit to decorate the tree.

You might notice some of our decorated eggs are broken. I was introduced to the tradition of cracking eggs. You take the egg in your hand and the other person also takes one and you smash the eggs together, if yours crack, you lose! The winner gets to boast about the victory and challenge the next person. I lost, in case you were wondering, but I had so much fun that I didn't mind losing.

In Croatia the Monday following Easter is a national holiday with all the shops closed except for the grocery stores. While the differences of this holiday in comparison to the American way are plentiful and most interesting, one thing is for certain: the more reasons for celebration, the better, so experience both any way you can! I enjoyed my day eating Beli's leftover chocolate kinder jaje. What about you, how did you spend your Easter weekend?


  1. awe, your hubby's grandparents are adorable! looks like a lovely Easter! We spent ours on my In-law's farm! Happy Easter!

  2. What a special way to spend Easter! We spent it at home relaxing and eating chocolate and cooking a special feast for 2.

  3. being away from our families, we went to a fab hotel on sunday nite! It was nice to have hubby for a couple of days with us and Bibs was soo happy to have her daddy!!

  4. Again, your story and your photos are very familiar to me. The people look alike (Croatians and Romanians), the traditions look alike (even the way of making bread that you described, its name in Romanian is "Tzest").
    Your blog is a very interesting way to know my eastern-Europe neighbors and my over-the-ocean-Latin relatives ;o))
    You make a real social-historical illustrated chronicle of the places you live!No kidding!
    I don't have time always to write a comment, but I visit your blog as often as I can because I like very much your open,natural way to describe what you see and what happend to you, day by day, almost.
    Keep going!
    A beautiful Spring I wish you, from my heart!

  5. How cozy and warm! I loved this Easter visit you took us along. It felt real.

    How did I spend the Easter weekend? For one, I didn't know it was an Easter weekend (I'm just ignorant about such things). Secondly, my husband and I don't really "celebrate" anything. So we just chilled at home! (Literally, since it was really cold and gloomy.)

  6. hi Elisa,

    our easter weekend was a bit different, since my old mother (97) died just before that.

    no heavy tears, still sad but with a warm heart we say goodbye tomorrow.
    children, grandchildren and grand/grandchildren, all are there to celebrate a special person, my mother.

    my selected bit of music is this one:

    and after the dust has disappeared we'll leave for Croatia as spring there is something so marvelous, I would not dare to mis it.
    so see you soon, pozdravi, pim.

    and as you always invite others with a question:
    what music would you like to hear on a funeral ?

  7. How wonderful you got to spend with family...even if they are not your own blood family. The pictures and your story is very heart warming. So good to hear that you had a great holiday weekend.

  8. Sounds like a wonderful Easter! I love hearing about different national holiday traditions.

  9. Hey Jen I saw the animal pictures, did you get a chance to ride the horses?

  10. Amanda sounds like you also had a nice weekend and I'm sure where you live you have plenty of chocolate to choose from. Which is your favorite?

  11. Hey Babs, I'm sure it's difficult to be away from family but sounds like you enjoyed it with your own small family. So you hubby also had some days off from work? How old is Bibs now?

  12. Oh Mihaela you are so sweet,thank you. and yes you can call me your latin relative, I like that very much! I do appreciate your kind words. I hope one day we are able to visit your country.

  13. Hey Juanita there's nothing wrong with not celebrating, I think if it wasn't for having kids it wouldn't be half the fun. So it was cold? Well at least you had a chance to be cozy at home.

  14. Oh Pim I'm so sorry for your loss. You chose a beautiful song. the lyrics "..I hear babies cry and I watch them grow, They'll learn more than we'll know." ...made me feel sad yet happy.

    As far as your question,ummmm, well I think it would have to be happy songs.

    see you soon,

  15. Karen, they have such BIG hearts, they treat me like a daughter and I feel very blessed to be part of their family. Hope you also had a great weekend.

  16. What a lovely way for all the family to spend Easter. The photos tell such a beautiful story. War is terrible but overcoming it's effects is priceless.


  17. Hi Elisa,
    Your husband's grandparents are adorable! You must have had a lovely Easter.
    It says a lot about a man when he has such love for his family. Lucky you! So very nice that we connected.

  18. What a touching post! This sounds like an absolutely lovely Easter. And the food looks positively delicious! Oh my, look at that bread!!

  19. Katrina, It was my first Easter celebration in Croatia and was introduced to many new traditions: Peka, egg cracking.. it was a lovely weekend.

  20. Bonnie, thank you. I really wanted to portray my admiration and love for my husband's grandparents and family.

  21. Hi Angie! thank you for your sweet words and yes I'm also very happy we connected and hope to see you around here. You also have a beautiful family.

  22. uhh Elisa, the bread was warm, and the taste it had right out of the peka, ahhh delicious!

    I just learned today that 1991 was the last time the family was together. I feel so special I was part of this special family reunion. 4 Generations later. Wow!

  23. Bribir has spectacular countryside! But I must say, as a true Croatia, that being a vegetarian next to peka is pure blasphemy! :))

  24. I love the look of your Easter break. The bread looks scrumptious, the setting idyllic, your grandmother-in-law picture perfect and as for the spring flowers - I am so jealous! Hope you had a lovely time.

    Did you go to Florence? Was is fun?

  25. prava domaća atmosfera, krasno!
    Ti si prelijepa žena.

  26. Elisa, this is it!! Croatian Easter tradition! I'm so glad you spent really good and quality time :)


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