When visiting your future mother in-law, be prepared to eat A LOT. I have learned “jedi Steffy” (ye-dee) which means “eat Steffy”, and usually she says this to offer MORE, aka seconds. I say “ne” (neh), which means no, but she still puts food on my plate. There is no such thing as “no more”. It’s like visiting your grandparents house and they ask you if you are hungry, you say no, but they feed you anyways. Same thing here.
Milka making lisnato tjesto which translates to a puff pastry. She puts sesame seeds on top as well. Me and Ivan tried making this a few months ago.
The puff pastry–sorry the picture kind of sucks
Her name is Milka, like the Swiss/German brand chocolate sold throughout Europe. She doesn’t know or speak English, but I’m sure she understands some. Like the other day I ask her something in English and she replies, “something like that”. I was shocked I even told Anita (Ivan’s half sister).
Milka is a great mother, wife, and cook. She works as an aid at a rehabilitation centre for special needs’ children. She deserves the attention of this blog post because she works very hard, and her partner Niko as well, to give her family the best lifestyle they can, even though they cannot afford a lot. She does most of the housework, and occasionally nags Anita to help clean. When she cooks or bakes she doesn’t follow a recipe because they are “all in her head”, or in other words, memorized. All the food I have tried so far has been excellent and I wish I had the skills to make the meals she prepares. I look up to her because she is very knowledgeable, especially with cooking. I think to some degree Anita and Ivan take her for granted and fail to realize how much she really does for them. I don’t mean that in a negative way, but I think they don’t display enough appreciation for all that she does for them, even if it means helping her out when she doesn’t ask, or call her up randomly and ask how she is doing. I tell Ivan all the time, “Skype your mom, she misses you!”, but with busy work lives and an 8-hour time difference, sometimes it is hard to do so. I regret not communicating more with his family through face-to-face conversations, but I stay in contact with Anita and she updates her with my latest Facebook posts.
Niko helps out as well of course, and he also rolls out his own cigarettes with fresh tobacco. He is the father of Anita, but not Ivan and they both get along very well. He also does not speak English but I have taught him some words and he has done well. The three of them make a great family, but they are lonely without Ivan and miss him very very much. Soon Anita will be all grown up and will find herself in the workforce so she can buy her own makeup, clothes, and cigarettes (shh don’t tell her mom or dad).
Oblatne (wafers) with caramel and walnuts. Tastes similar to baklava.
Income in Croatia is mediocre, but nothing like in Canada. The average monthly salary here is about 5,700 kuna which converts to about $1,150 CAD. Homes are usually purchased, not mortgaged, and final renovations take time to complete because not everyone has the money to pay for it all upfront. People live a good life here, it’s not like they live on dirt floors or anything. Most people are very up-to-date with fashion and their homes are very modern. The food is fresh, free of those harmful GMO’s, and is generally healthy–except for those devilish sweets.
Most families have this in their homes. It is basically a fire pit used to keep the room warm. Ivan’s family, like many others here in Croatia, are unable to afford a central heating unit such as a furnace or radiator because they can be quite expensive. I am sleeping with a heater in Ivan’s room for the length of my stay, but even with this in operation, the electrical bill can be costly as well.
Today Anita and I made lunch together. It is chicken with a white sauce and pasta, similar to chicken fettuccine alfredo. Milka is working all day today and Anita took the day off school to spend the last day with me before I leave tomorrow afternoon.
By the way, this is Anita. She is 16. This photo was taken last summer during my first visit to Croatia. Isn’t she gorgeous?!
Yesterday I purchased some much-needed goodies from the local grocery store, Interspar. Shown above is Lino Lada duo (milk and hazelnut spread), bubblemint Orbit gum, and two mini Pelinkovac liquor bottles which I will get my future Dutch friends to try. Pelinkovac is derived from a wormwood plant. It tastes bitter and is quite similar to Jägermeister.
As I spend my last full day here in Croatia, I am thankful for Ivan’s family for giving me a roof over my head and delicious homemade meals during my short visit. This evening me and Anita are invited to Ivan’s fathers’ house for dinner as we met up with him at Arena Centar yesterday for coffee. He is Ivan’s biological father and his name is Ante. He is also very tall like Ivan, if not a little bit taller, and also resembles Ivan quite a bit. I met Ante during the summer in Cista Velika which is a small village near Dalmatia at the seaside. The Kegalj village is also very close to Cista as well.
I hope everyone in Canada is doing well and I look forward to posting more in the next few days!