Can I just say now how hard my host mother worked this weekend. She and her friend Ivanka processed 2 enormous bags of peppers into something called IVAR–think Trader Joes’s pepper spread. The grill by my feet is burning wood which heats the surface. The peppers are grilled then stuffed into platic shopping bags like you’d get at the grocery store. Inside the bags the peppers continue to cook and collaps in on themselves resulting in 40-50 peppers /bag.
The peppers are then peeled, seeded and set aside in huge buckets. Then they’re put through a grinder and some grilled egplant and some other types of peppers added and the whole mixture ends up in a huge vat. Sunflower oil is added as well as other seasonings–but the only one I was sure of was salt.
Then it’s stired with theis big wooden paddle for hours until it’s reduced by about halk and is the consistency of a spread. It’s then spooned into jars and viola–a winter’s supply of pepper spread. Now I’ve upleaded the pictures of me, but make no mistake–it was my host mom and her friend Ivanka who did most of the work. In fact they were a bit taken aback that I even wanted to help. These ladies put in a 12 hour day on Saturday and were back at it at 8 AM on Sunday. They finished some time after noon–but I couldn’t tell you when because I was off to eat lunch at Sam’s host family’s house.
Lunch was delicious–it’s the Macedonian main meal of the day and they put on a spread that I wish I’d photographed. A large sort of stuffed onion pizza (no red sauce) cabbage salad, tomato salad, 3-4 kinds of chili dishes, 2 more baked bread concoctions cooked-outside on the coals. sausages (as a side dish) and of course the Rakya. As I was leaving, Sam’s ‘mom’ took me next door to show me the still.
The neighbor–hospitable as Macedonians are, would not let us leave unless we tasted his brew–distilled just this morning from potatoes. Now I’m no expert, but this stuff was wicked-strong. Is it any wonder I just wanted to go home and take a nap?
This town is a full of charachter–and characters. The laghter among families and friends warms my heart. The scenery is beautiful, and the houses are charming. Oh yeah, did I tell you I have to go through the apt, and out on to the balcony to get to the bathroom? It’s gonna get pretty cold in about another month I’m told, so I guess I’ll have to learn to limit fluids after about 4……
These are just random pics of the town which was built on the side of an extinct volcano. It was originally settle here because it was easier to defend against Turkish invaders. Much later as the story goes, Hitler was supposed to have said he’d finally made it to the end of the earth when he arrived at this town of Krotovo–my home for the next 10 weeks. Intense language training starts tomorrow at 8 AM sharp, so Dobra Noky (good night) and let me know if you’d like to hear about anything in particular.