Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Toast

As much as technology allows me to stay connected with family and feel close to home, there are certain moments when I am reminded of the distance between. 

My best friend got married last week and, after sharing more than twenty five years worth of monumental moments, I was suddenly stuck on the other side of the world.  Refusing to let thousands of kilometers keep me from celebrating such an important occasion, yet believing that there would likely be no sudden advances in teleportation technology (or, if there were, I would hardly be one to afford such a luxury), I took matters into my own hands and began to entertain alternative methods which would allow me to participate without being physically present.

My dear friend, the bride, is an incredibly skilled chef, a lover of all things food and a faithful follower of my blog, so an edible offering to honour their union seemed like a suitable salute.  I ran through a quick collection of ideas in my head, crossing each of them off before they could even be counted.  A wedding cake could never be trusted to my oven.  Rice would be nice, though a little bland on its own.  Perhaps a bubbly cocktail?  No, she's food, not drink.  Should I just make toast? After Googling my way around for some time, hoping for inspiration but finding everything but, I locked my laptop and took a break on the terrace, faithful that a flash notion would come.  As the church bells chimed, clarity came; I would prepare a taste of Croatia.

The dish was finally settled upon with the help of my lovely friend, Katica.  "I am desperately seeking typical Croatian wedding fare?" I queried via email (also relaying my purpose to avoid the obvious confusion it might have caused).   Soon she arrived at my door, recipe clippings in hand, to discuss the procedure and the prominence, insisting that "there is no family with self-respect in whole Croatia, from border to border, who would have traditional wedding table without sarma."

sour cabbage, minced meat, herbs, spices, onions

Saša would prepare the meal while I followed along with the camera, and so armed with minced meats, onions and a full sour cabbage, we assumed our kitchen positions.  Sun rays danced through the window and together we noticed how the tall stack of cabbage leaves was magically transformed into a delicate tower of bridalesque petals and, although Dalmatian sarma (arambašići) does not include rice, we decided to throw some in anyway (it was, after all, a wedding).  After mixing and rolling (and a quick call to Aunt Vera to confirm that everything was just right) we tucked the last piece into the pot and simmered our marriage feast.

sarma assembly

pot full of sarma

placing pork rinds

adding tomato roux

Later that evening we dined on the terrace sending well wishes across the water and, after several savoury scoops of the smokey-sour sarma and mouthfuls of mashed potatoes, sat as stuffed as the cabbage we'd eaten.  And then feeling blissfully full, not only from food, but of happiness, we raised our glasses to Hannah and Pete, thankful we could share in their day...

 "To Hannah and Pete, who both bring their own individually unique ingredients, and a perfect blend of spice, to create the ultimate recipe.  May together your flavour forever continue to develop; becoming more delicious with each passing day."

sarma dish

sarma

...with much love.

2 comments:

RnR said...

You lost me at sour cabbage .... but I perked up again at the thought of mashed potatoes!!!

Congrats to Hannah and Pete!

pollysplayground said...

Sour cabbage is basically sauerkraut that isn't shredded. 'Sour cabbage' sounds a bit icky, but actually it is very delicious - I think you would like this.

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