I started learning Slovene in the kitchen, writing shopping lists in the language and paying attention in supermarkets. From there I naturally got into the English-language cooking shows on cable with Slovene subtitles, and now I think I’m ready for the real thing, an RTV Slovenia show called Čarokuhinja pri atu, which means something like “Cooking Magic at Grandfather’s.”
Herbs for ratatouille
This is a short cooking show with two hosts, Živa Selan and Gojmir Lešnjak (aka Gojc). Živa plays the granddaughter to Gojmir’s grandfather, and each week they cook a different national or regional cuisine, with the episode we’re looking at today being on French cooking (hence the title, Francoska kuhinja). While the show seems to be about the older man teaching the younger woman how to cook, take a brief look at the way Živa cuts vegetables and Gojmir stirs the onions or adds herbs and it’s clear that these two weren’t hired for their wealth of kitchen lore or cooking tips,gleaned from years of experience and interest. Further investigation reveals that both hosts are actors, and the action takes place on that premise, with short skits and jokes played in character.
A typical market exchange
In this episode they make ratatouille, do an outdoor skit with Gojmir in drag at Ljubljana Market, cook some more, then Živa goes to visit a crêpe factory, taking a few back to the show—which is sponsored by Pečjak, the baker—then Gojmir makes an orange butter sauce.
How to make crêpe
The pièce de résistance, if you will, is the last scene, in which Gojmir dresses as a comedy Frenchman and Živa invites a French woman to enjoy the food and engage in a lively discussion.
If you already know food and cooking words, then this show is pretty good. It’s scripted, so they speak slow and clear, with some kind of aim, and it’s fast-paced enough that you get plenty of variety in the visual presentation while still (and thankfully) going over the same terms again and again. Whether the show has any appeal when you understand everything they’re saying is a question for another day.
The French lady tells the story of Crêpe Suzette