This last weekend my mother in law celebrated her 70th birthday. It was a big event, due to generous family sizes. We set for 70 people, including children.
At a Slovak celebration, there must be about three times as much food planned as can actually be physically eaten, as my father found out at my own wedding. Before the ceremony, people gathered at the inlaws house for sandwiches, to sustain themselves through Mass. Afterwards, dinner was served and my father filled himself, thinking he had to last the rest of the night with that much food. Then the cakes and sweets came, and he made sure he didn’t miss out on those. A few hours later, to his surprise, came another meal. And, a few hours later, another. We only had three meals after the ceremony, the first brother to get married had the traditional five. Slovaks celebrate a wedding, however, till the late hours of the morning, usually finishing around 5 am. At our last family wedding, the great aunts and uncles, well into their 70’s, stayed until 3 am.
At any rate, this was not a wedding but a birthday. We opted for the DIY route (cause we’re fashionable like that…). The evening before was spent peeling onions, setting tables, and getting all those odds and end finished. The next day for lunch the immediate family had goulash together, cooked by my husband.
After a Mass of thanksgiving, all the guest trekked over in blistering heat to the ‘svadobka,’ a room on the back of the community hall. First came the customary clear bone broth soup, necessary to any celebration even though it made us all sweat even more in our finery.
Also out were savoury snacks, various kinds of pagač. Dry and biscuit like, some had cheese, some rolled. The best are my mother in law’s made with lard cracklings (hopefully I’ll get it up here on the blog this summer for you), flaky and buttery and perfect (the round ones on the right).
Later on in the evening, out came plates of buns, cold cuts, and salads, made by my Belarussian sister in law, who made some of her many Belarussian salads.
The last of the guests left around 10:30 pm. Crazily enough, the svadobka doesn’t have a dishwasher, so all those dishes for all those people for all those courses had to be washed by hand.
In order to ensure that there is enough food, there must be enough left over that you can still feed 30 people the next day. We went to finish tidying up and had lunch, with still more food left over.
Can you pour me a glass? he said. See 4 Things to Know When Drinking In Slovakia.