1st Blog: Slovenia’s culinary variety

I have started my exchange semester in Slovenia exactly one month ago. It is not my first time visiting Slovenia, but I have never been to the capital city Ljubljana (Laibach). Before I start my story about some particular aspects I have noticed since my stay here, I just wanted to make clear that my time as an Erasmus student is surely a bit different from the experiences people had here in previous years. The Corona pandemic is still influencing people’s lives and therefore their daily behaviour. I was informed in August that my semester in Ljubljana will be completely online and it was obvious that there will be no parties or bigger events. I still decided to pack my bags and move from my hometown in Austria to this lovely city in the south of the Alps. In the first bit of my arrival I was lucky that my dad accompanied me on the trip and that he introduced me to some of his Slovenian colleagues. Therefore, I experienced already during my first few days in the new city the typical “gostilna” (what the taverns are called here) and got to know the Slovenian drinking behaviour. I learned that it is very common, that when a host invites his guests to dinner in a restaurant or in gostilnas, he decides what the guests will eat on this day. Meaning, that the guests do not receive a menu to look at. Of course, in most cases the host already knows the location and the staff and therefore is familiar with the cuisine and the offer. But as a guest or maybe because I could not translate the order right away, it was always a surprise what was going to be on my plate. In my previous weeks in Ljubljana I discovered a variety of different cuisines. In March 2020 Slovenian restaurants received 6 Michelin stars. I was aware that I stayed in a capital city, where the selection of foods and drinks always seem larger compared with smaller cities or even the countryside, where I grew up. But Ljubljana surprised me with the charm of little bistros, the regional and seasonal offers in gostalinas and even the fast-food places did not let me down. Another aspect I noticed is that in almost every restaurant in Ljubljana vegans easily find something to eat. Compared with the restaurants and their offers in my hometown, there is an extreme difference and I think this is a huge trend that is developing mostly in bigger cities. Not only more expensive restaurants are offering vegan options, it is also the bars and the fast-food places which match the supply with the demand. Speaking of bars, basically all of them offer drinks and food. Whilst I was used to only go to bars for a few beers, here it is very common to also have a toast, a burger or a pizza while you hang out with friends. What I really found unusual was that people, even though it was autumn and already cold, were still sitting outside enjoying their drinks. Mostly besides the river “Ljubljanica” several cafés and bars placed chairs and tables for people to sit outside. I will probably not get used to this habit, I still prefer my warm seat inside and prevent myself from a bladder infection. Slovenia is famous for its wines because the climate and differences in soil. This knowledge comes from my wine tasting I did in Marezige, “the capital of refosco wine variety at the Slovenian Istria”, as they call it. Slovenia has also a famous beer fountain „Zeleno zlato“, which means green gold. To sum up, I really did not expect to experience so many different aspects compared to my home in Austria. I merely thought that because of the geographical closeness the culture and values would be more similar. Nevertheless, I still experience something new every day, but I also cherish the environment at home maybe more than before. To get back to the beginning of this blog and why I mentioned Covid-19: As I am writing this, the Slovenian government has decided to implement another lockdown. All restaurants and bars are closed. I am very sad and frustrated by this, but I understand the importance of this regulations. I hope that I will be able to continue exploring Ljubljana’s culinary variety after this uncertain period of time.

Mariella Rubert, 3. Semester Bachelor BWL