Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Travel Meets Genealogy, Part 2: Running Away to Home

This is part 2 of my interview with Running Away to Home author Jennifer Wilson. You can read part 1 of the interview on my blog Gena's Genealogy. In this interview we talk more about Croatian food and antique recipes.
(c) 2012 Jennifer Wilson. Used with permission.

Gena: I love your idea about posting antique recipes on your blog. What gave you the idea to do this?

Jennifer: As you remember from the book, I'm not the world's best genealogist on paper. But I collect ephemera like nobody's business. I just wanted to show how there are different ways you can hand down your family's story--including through food. That'll be an element that runs through the France book, too. I'd love for your readers to share an antique recipe from their own family! Everyone loves an old recipe, and some can be quite odd. Always so interesting to see. Email me at I'd love to hear from you!

(c) 2012 Jennifer Wilson. Used with permission.

Gena: What is your favorite Croatian recipe you could share here?

Jennifer: I absolutely love zelodac, which is disgusting to most people's palate. It's like a Scottish haggis, and the word in Croatian means "stomach." My great-grandma used to cook it in the stomach of a sheep. I just use sausage casings (stomach of a pig, technically) and boil it. It's an Easter treat. My husband would advise me to put "treat" in quotation marks. It's very simple, and a combination of ingredients that you don't really see together. I love recipes that are so old that you can just feel the antique quality to them.

1 lb. ham, diced
1 lbs. cooked bacon, diced
Sausage Casings
3 bunches green onions, chopped
12 oz cornmeal
8 eggs
6 oz raisins
Salt to taste
Beat eggs. Add cornmeal and stir well. Add other ingredients. Rinse the sausage casing by holding one end up to the faucet. You can either purchase a sausage stuffing kit, or cut a big water bottle in half to use as a funnel. It’s awkward and messy, but it works.
Stuff the mixture into the casings to form bratwurst-sized sausages. Don’t overfill or leave air bubbles. Prick with a fork. Boil in water for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Gena: Anything in Croatia you would not eat?

Jennifer: Nah, I couldn't afford to be too picky. But I wasn't crazy about pelinkovac, which was a shot that people liked to do in celebration. Made from wormwood, I think. Tasted like ear wax. I suffered through it, of course, it's rude to turn down a drink in Croatia. But I wasn't savoring it, either.

Gena: Please describe a typical day’s menu in Croatia

Jennifer: For our family, we started the day with sliced apples (Mrkopalj had amazing apples, from the tree outside) and drinkable yogurt, that Jim swears by when we travel internationally. We were never sick from food on the road once, and he swears its yogurt that helped. Orange juice and Nescafe, which is much nuttier and more robust in Europe. Lunch we'd eat mortadella sandwiches with fresh kruh or bread from the bakery. Supper was something we shared with neighbors or friends at the caffe-bar--chicken soup or pig on a spit or sheep on a spit and some garden veggies. Lots of great food, very simple and straightforward. All organic and fresh, too. Sometimes the fishmonger would drive through the village from the sea an hour away, and then we'd eat fresh fish.

To learn more about Jennifer's book, see her website.