If you are what you eat, then I am a cup of coffee and a handful of salted peanuts. My boy Ed is a bowl of cereal, with another bowl of cereal for a chaser. The average Slovenian, on the other hand, is a mountain of meat, potato, bread, cheese and cabbage. I was flabbergasted at the sight of my first "typical" Slovenian meal. After five days in the country, I am fatter, and still flabbergasted. My publishers -- kind, generous and concerned to treat me well -- sat me down in front of a traditional lunch after a long morning talking to radio and school kids. I couldn't come close to finishing. I did okay with the sausages (wonderful, spiced and smoky) but couldn't manage more than a bite of the potato hillock in the middle of the plate, or the small swamp of cabbage nestled beneath it. I skipped dinner that night. Next day we were in another town, and they sat me down in front of the same lunch that the next table was having -- a platter of meat, meat, and more meat, with another platter of garnish for the meat. I tried. I did. First a sausage and then some tender pork. I had a bite of rice stuffing, and a forkful of spicy pepper garnish almost as good as my mom's (who will read this blog) and way better than my baba's (who will not). I skipped the special cheese that I was supposed to spread on the meat and allow to melt, but I did try some pickled cabbage. And then I pushed back my plate. But you haven't tried your salad! cried my publisher. I gave her a helpless look. I ... I can't, I said.
Beside us, the couple who had been eating when we sat down were still going strong. Their platter was half empty.
Why aren't Slovenians the size of houses? With this diet they should be waddling along, barely able to fit into the small cars they drive through the narrow winding streets of the old town. But as a nation they are slender, fit folks. Is it a trick of national metabolism? Or might it, perhaps, have something to do with the dearth of fast food outlets?