"Perusic, Croatia" Perusic by edwis

Perusic Travel Guide: 1 reviews and 5 photos

A Visit to the Family Farm

One of the most exciting and memorable trips was the one in which I was along for “J” and “C”’s little boy’s (Luca) second birthday celebration. This occurred while I was spending a week or so in Croatia at their home in Slano. Joan did not come along on this trip, for she was not able to get away from her work schedule and I just happened to have one free mileage ticket left over. And of course it was burning a hole in my pocket just waiting to be used.

“C”’s relative’s and extended family in Croatia still live and operate a couple of family farms, one being in a very small town named Perusic’. It is not on most maps, but they always tell me to look for the town of Gospic, and it is somewhere by there. I spend some time doing research before the trip and I could never find the place on any map. I had no idea of what to expect on this adventure.

It turned out that our couple of days stay at the farm of “C”’s relatives was truly remarkable and a life-long memory. We find that there are two brothers and their fully extended families living there; one family lives on each floor of their ‘new farm house’, and they share the main floor as a common living room, TV area and an eating area. We observe that they all live as one big happy family with no distinctions on anything. Then there were always a couple of older grandmas and uncles around which was confusing to me trying to figure out where they fit into the scheme of things.

no one spoke any English.

I quickly find out that no one spoke any English. But luckily for me, as I was seated at the table on the first day, a little teenage girl named Ivana appears next to me and says, “Hi, I am your translator.” It turns out she is a very gifted student, speaking perfect English (British style) which she learned from her schooling, and she is hoping to get to London some day for her further education. She already had finished the latest Harry Potter book which just came out a month earlier, in English! She led her school class in doing a Shakespeare production in English which was presented in their little town earlier that summer. We had several good talks on many subjects and I sensed that she really liked to practice her English speaking and learning with an American. She told me all kinds of great stories about the history of their town, including how the ancient Turks invaded them, resulting in inter-faith marriages, and then how her family and “C”’s broke away and became the Christians. That evening the farm mom serves us coffee which is they tell us is their passion – surprise! It is Turkish coffee! We had these tiny little cups full of dark coffee grounds and what seemed similar to a mud base.

Ivana took me for pleasant walks around their farm land and also up in the hills to show me some local ancient ruins. I mentioned that we saw man-made stone walls terracing all along the mountain sides as we drove up from Trogir, and I commented that they must be hundreds and hundreds of years old. She responded “more precisely, like 2 ½ thousand years”. Ok, I was out-smarted again by a kid.

She tells me that she takes 16-17 different subjects in school, including lessons in Croatian, English and Latin; then can also choose optional French or German. While her name Ivana, her farm mom is Ivanka, another girl is Ivanika and then the dad is called Ivan. I could never tell who was being called or talked about because they all sounded the same in Croatian fast talk. The old uncle speaking in Croatian tells the group upon my arrival that it is ok I don’t speak any Croatian; “we can talk with our hands … and feet”. Every one has a big laugh.

I slept in the old farmhouse which still has a sink and stove in the main bedroom. The floors are wooden creaky, sloping and wavy from years and years of settlement and it was like an old cabin up in northern Minnesota. I slept well each morning until the 615 am roosters announced the new day.

My bedroom window view presented the family’s 150 sheep, which need to be walked / fed on grass each morning and each evening. One of the girls does the night job from 530 and returns at 830 every night. It is just what they do, no one ***es about having to do their chores. Plus there were many chickens just roaming about clucking and crowing, and then there were the duties of milking the 5-6 cows.

This was amazing; the food is cooked in the old farm kitchen building, which is across the drive in area of the farm near the barn, which meant a lot of walking back and forth for the women carrying plates, pots of food items which were prepared in the old building and then brought to the new house for eating. The men do chores all day, while the women mostly sat, talked, and cooked in the old kitchen building amongst themselves.

Luca while at the table needed a glass of milk. The farm family mom leaves for about 10 minutes, went out to the barn to milk a cow, comes back and boils it up some and produced Luca a warmed pot of milk. Everything is completely always fresh and homemade; the bread and cheeses, sausages, eggs from the yard, meats, and tomatoes. Oh what a flavor from those tomatoes! I could not stop eating them which were always served chopped up with a little minced garlic in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil / vinegar.

The Roasted Lamb

Of course the purpose of this little journey to the farm was to have Luca’s 2nd birthday party with some family. Early that morning they knocked on “J’s” bedroom window about 600 am and all the men went out and collected a lamb. Then we all gathered near the machine barn and watched it get processed. First the farmer dad and his young son helper, cut its’ throat and let it bleed over the grass. Then it was de-skinned and peeled off. The belly was slit open and the guts were gathered and thrown to the dogs that were chained up but were on stand by dancing around and around. God, at this point, I didn’t know if I should be taking step by step pictures (which I did), or be throwing up ill on the side of the barn, which I almost did. Yikes, what did we get into here? Ok, so the skinned animal then had a 10 foot rounded pole stuck through its’ body and they nailed the backbone to this rotisserie stick pole, securing it into place by pounding nails through old beer bottle caps over the skin. The little boy helped and was becoming an expert in his own right. At least I saw why they kept a pile of the used beer bottle caps from the all the beer that we drank. The beer (pivo) of choice at the farm was ‘Ozujsko’ as opposed to the other popular Croatian pivo called ‘Karlovacko’. And the pivo we drank was always in the larger .51cl sized bottles not the standard .33cl bottles.

Anyway, so now the poled animal is rubbed down with coarse salt taken from a bucket in the kitchen. The dressed animal is then hung in the barn for a few hours after which it was ready to be carried over to the homemade rotisserie setup behind the garage barn. A wood fire had been lit and the pole started to slowly turn and turn. Here all the men sat around for several hours drinking beer, while the lamb slowly roasted. This is what I learned about lamb roasting over an open pit fire; that after about one hour of roasting, the lamb’s eyeballs pop out of the skull with a smashing noise!

That evening’s meal and birthday party was a wonderful and memorable affair. While we and the knife-eaters attacked the lamb meal, little Luca was fixated with the birthday cake that one of the ladies in town prepared for him. It was shaped as a race car, using painted cardboard for a windshield and graham crackers placed for the seats, and we all loved it. If only he could remember what such an experience he had, for I will cherish it forever.

It was very hard to leave the farm life, and I told them they better watch out for I might be coming back just for their Sunday meals.

  • Last visit to Perusic: Aug 2005
  • Intro Updated Jun 26, 2007
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edwis

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