Brda dishes

White polenta

Polenta spread from Friuli and soon became the main dish in Brda, replacing bread at most meals. It was mainly cooked with white corn flour, but less popular was yellow (rusa) polenta, which was considered a poor man's dish and also tasted slightly different. It was said that 'whoever wanted to speculate, cooked yellow polenta so that fewer would eat it'.

Polenta was eaten at least once a day throughout the year and regularly cooked for dinner. If there was any left over at dinner, it was fried or pan-fried the next morning in crackling, bacon or butter. If all was eaten, it was cooked fresh for breakfast, and necessarily when they had workers. Fresh polenta was most often eaten with pork, various sauces (“toč”), soups (“župe”), eggs, “frtalja” (omelette) and vegetables. Sometimes it was simply thickened in various ways: with fried ham, salami or sausage; with bacon and fried onions; with crackling drizzled with vinegar or wine. Fresh polenta was also soaked in a mixture of vinegar, oil, salt, pepper and garlic. At mowing time, polenta with zaseka (“tacanje” or “košenina”) was prepared. Women and children liked to eat polenta fresh, baked or cold, with sour or sweet milk, with white coffee, or covered with butter, fennel and sugar. Cold, baked or fried polenta was often eaten with soups, vegetables or frtalja.

In addition to the polenta made from white and yellow corn flour (“sirkova polenta”), buckwheat polenta made from a mixture of corn, buckwheat and wheat flour was eaten occasionally. If some milk and butter were added to plain polenta while it was cooking, it was called improved polenta. When a sauce made from fried crackling, a pinch of wheat flour and vinegar was poured over the polenta, the dish was called “zavihnjena” or swirled polenta. Carnival polenta was eaten, as the name suggests, only on Carnival Day, with sausages and turnips. The fact that the polenta was truly locally prepared, is also shown by a dish called the polenta sister: before all the flour was mixed into the cauldron and the polenta was still watery, some of the mixture was taken out. The polenta was then cooked to eat and the removed mixture was thickened with cracklings or speck and eaten with the polenta. Melon polenta was also prepared rarely. Peeled and cleaned ripe melons were sliced or grated, salted and cooked with corn flour, and the polenta was thickened with cracklings. Potato polenta consisted of mashed boiled potatoes to which corn flour was added and then cooked as normal. It was then thickened with cracklings or zaseka.


Egg dishes and frtalja

Eggs were saved by most people to sell, so only the elderly, children and the sick ate them daily. The yolks were foamed with sugar, for children, milk was added, and coffee or barley coffee was added for the women. They drank this in the morning, before breakfast, and sometimes a soft-boiled egg was eaten during the day for strength.

Fried eggs were a better dish, so they were rarely eaten and often served to guests. For breakfast or dinner, the eggs were mixed with water, wine or vinegar and seasoned with onions. This mixture was also used to make an egg “toč”. It was added beaten egg, salt and rosemary. In summer, tomatoes were used to make an egg with tomatoes, which was a particularly popular breakfast for men. The so-called “peperonada” (paprikash) was made by adding bell peppers and courgettes to the eggs along with tomatoes.

A popular egg dish was FRTALJA, which was prepared in all possible variations. The batter for frtalja was the basis for all other types. Frtalja with cabbage (“madrjalca, fennel, yarrow) was most popular and always prepared for lunch after a long working day. Meat frtalja was prepared with cracklings or sausages. Vegetable-herb frtalja with onions, nettles, parsley, dandelion, elderflower or acacia flowers and frtalja with grated apples. When frtalja was sprinkled with sugar, it was called “pocukrana frtalja” or “sugar-dusted frtalja”. Alongside the frtalja, a drop of typical Brdah “rbula” (Rebula) was always a good choice.

Women and children loved to eat quick egg dishes: fried bread slices soaked in wine and egg (“šnite”) and zucchini, elderflowers or acacia blossoms fried in egg batter and sprinkled with sugar. Guests, the sick and the weak were treated to egg foam with wine and sugar. Pancakes filled with marmalade, apples, cottage cheese or chestnut filling were very rarely made.


Meat, sausages, salami and offal were usually used to make “toč”. People used to cook goulashes from “markandele”, sausages, salami, prosciutto, “rataje”, liver, lungs, beef meat, mutton, game and domestic rabbits.

Game meat required longer preparation. For more formal meals, roast wild rabbit was prepared by adding bacon, pouring hot lard over them, covering them with slices of bacon, adding rosemary and sage, roasting them in the oven and slowly basting them with wine. It was eaten with various salads or risotto.

*Toč (goulash): most “toč” dishes were prepared according to a single recipe: onions were fried in lard, pieces of meat or slices of ham, salami, etc. were fried, a little wheat flour was added, and some had tomato sauce, water and wine were poured over them, and they were seasoned with spices that blended best with the flavour of the meat. The most common were marjoram, basil and bay. Poorer families had to save meat, so they made meatless “toč”. They were called “točfurbo”. They simple added potatoes, beans and eggs.

“Krodegini”, “markandele” and “šakanele”

Meat alone was only rarely prepared. They usually used it for soups, stews and goulashes. Fresh pork meat was used to make steaks (“bržadlce”) and sausages, which were cooked in water or wine: krodegini*, šankanele* and markandele*, cooked in a stew or separately. The pork was used first for offal, then for “markandele” and sausages, which lasted until spring, and finally for “kožarice” and ribs, at least until the harvest, a few salamis and prosciutto were saved. Black pudding was dried and eaten baked or fried with bread or polenta as a stand-alone dish or side dish.

*krodegini: to make “krodegini” use a part of the fat with the skin, trimmings from other parts of the meat and the ears. First cut the ingredients, then mince, salt and pepper and add a few tablespoons of the garlic and wine solution. Mix well and fill the pork intestine with the mixture. These sausages need to simmer for quite a long time to cook the skin and ears well.

*šankanele (black pudding):make them by dicing the bread and soaking in the blood, salt and pepper, cinnamon and filling the pork intestine with the mixture.

*markandele (typical Brda and Friuli dish): made from pig offal (liver, heart, lungs, kidneys), blood meat and spices (salt, pepper, cinnamon). Grind the ingredients, season with salt and pepper, add a little cinnamon and prepare the loaves by wrapping them in pork fat. Markandele originate from antique cuisine.


Stews (“kuhnje”)

In the spring-summer season, the menu included kale (“vržotova”), pumpkin (“targičeva”), corn (“sirkova”), broad bean, pear, vegetable, barley “kuhnja” and black pot. In the autumn-winter season, people coopedturnip (“biščeva”), barley, corn, chestnut, bean, wheat, broad bean “kuhnja” and “jota”. From spring to autumn, stews were made from fresh pulses, legumes, fresh chestnuts and milk corn, and later dried cereals, broad beans and chestnuts were ground at home in a mortar or carried to the so-called “stopa”. Most popular was barley stew.

Bread and cakes

The cakes were baked several times a week, especially when a lot of embers remained in fireplaces. It was most often made with white corn flour, which was cooked with salt water and when it was almost cool, only enough wheat flour was added to keep it from crumbling. In a large bowl, the mixture was stirred until it was smooth. Before there were cookers, cakes were baked on the hearth, and they are said to have been the best. The ashes were blown off the hot hearth and the loaf-shaped batter was placed on the cleaned surface. It was covered with kale leaves or the paper in which sugar was sold, and the ashes with burning embers (“prhav'ca”) were spread on top. It was baked for one hour. Care had to be taken to ensure that it was sufficiently covered with coals at all times.


Where cakes were baked frequently, special tin lids (“bndon”) were used. They put coals on the lid and watched when it was cooked enough through a small opening in the lid (“špegalo”).

Cakes were eaten for lunch, individually or with pork, sausage or salami. They also went well with fresh or sour milk and coffee with milk. It was also often enjoyed as a side dish at lunch.


“Štruklji wljkava”

The Brda people cooked or baked “štruklji” mainly with two types of dough: sour dough, which was slightly softer than that used for “potica”, and plain, unleavened dough, which was rolled out thinly. In terms of shape, there were two types of štruklji: those cooked in rolled loaves and sliced when cooked, and as dumplings, which resembled pockets and were cooked individually. These were prepared in Gornja Brda. The most delicious were štruklji filled with walnuts, breadcrumbs and raisins. They were cooked at the end of a hard-working days or during mowing time. They were also filled with apples, pears, figs, apricots or plums, to which walnuts, hazelnuts, honey, cinnamon and raisins were added. After calving, they cooked fresh yellow curd into curd rolls, which they did not normally make.

Pulled dough štruklji were initially cooked by girls returning from the household school in Tomaj, after 1920. These štrukljji were filled with cherries, apples, cottage cheese or chestnut and they were baked. But they preferred sour dough štruklji. Some housewives cooked štruklji with potato dough and filled them with grated fruit and breadcrumbs or with a meat filling. All the cooked štruklji, except the meat ones, were thickened with fried butter and sprinkled with sugar and roasted breadcrumbs.



Pastries were part of the festive cuisine. Sweet fruit cakes made from plums and prunes, and sweet (fine) bread were the “cheap” pastries. Under the influence of the girls returning from the Tomaj household school, confectionery also found its place in Brda cuisine, where previously only potica (“hubance”) and leavened “šarklji” (“kuglofi”) with walnut kernels, raisins or chocolate had been known.

Potica, baked in a bread oven or on a hearth under a cake cover, was round in shape. Potica was baked in the shape of a loaf when kitchen-ranges came into use. The dough had to be golden yellow, with lots of eggs and as light as possible, so it had to be kneaded for a long time. A good potica had to have a rich filling, the best being walnuts with roasted breadcrumbs, raisins, honey or sugar, brandy or nutmeg, pine nuts, and some even had a little black pepper. In autumn, chestnut cake was also baked with a filling of mashed cooked chestnuts, egg yolks or eggs, butter, sugar and cinnamon. At the beginning of the century, only skilled cooks also made puff pastry potica called “šfojada”. The filling consisted of pine nuts, raisins, dried fruit and other ingredients. A glass of “rbula” (Rebula) always went well with the sweet potica.