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Slovenian Cuisine – a Melting Pot of Diversity

Ajdova kaša z gobami (buckwheat porridge with mushrooms). Photo: Tomo Jeseničnik

The culinary image of modern-day Slovenia incorporates the influences of cultures and civilisations from the Alpine, Mediterranean and Pannonian regions. Centuries of social and historical development at this junction have created specific types of culture and lifestyle, not in the sense of assimilation, but in the sense of creating a unique and original variety, including the culinary.

Slovenian cuisine is based on cereal, dairy products, meat (especially pork), sea and freshwater fish, vegetables, legumes and tubers, olives and grapes. Slovenia's cuisine combines the influences of the rural population, medieval lords, the bourgeoisie and monastic orders.

Kranjska klobasa (Carniolan sausage). Photo: Tomo Jeseničnik

Numerous culinary innovations were introduced during the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, and during the French occupation in the late 18th century the first cookbook in Slovene was written by Valentin Vodnik. The development of popular tourist resorts in the second half of the 19th century, including Bled, Rogaška Slatina, Dobrna, Portorož, and some existing even before these, also greatly contributed to the development of food culture. Slovenian cookery, with its own range of unique and original features, has therefore been part of Central European cuisine for centuries.

During the first half of the 20th century, Slovenian cuisine was enriched by new dishes from the Balkan region. In the 1960s, Italian pizza began to spread, while the 1980s saw something of a re-birth of Slovenian cookery, which was reflected in the increasing number of cookbooks being published and new ideas being adopted by individuals and restaurants alike (an example of this is the ‘Slow Food’ movement). This has also led to the protection of geographical heritage and the traditional value of some local specialties, such as prekmurska gibanica, savinjski želodec, idrijski žlikrofi, kranjska medica, potica, kranjska klobasa, belokranjska pogača and povitica, kočevski med, prleška tünka etc.), to the establishment of food enthusiast societies (e.g. the Society for the Recognition of Sautèed Potato and Onions as an Independent Dish), and to various food competitions (such as the Kranjska klobasa contest, salami competitions, etc.).