Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ewww! Former Yugoslavs Eating Raw Bacon

I couldn't figure out where the bacon was going. I work from home these days, so if someone was cooking up some bacon I was sure to smell it. But, I never did. There was a bunch of bacon in the fridge, and then it was gone.

Then I caught him.

I walked into my husband's home office late one evening and there he was tucking into a heaping portion of raw bacon on one of my favorite blue-and-white plates. Ewww! In America we cook our bacon up in a frying pan. Crispy or chewy, it's your pleasure, but it's cooked up before you eat it. Even then you feel kinda sinful because it's bacon, a guilty pleasure, you know?

So a few days later I'm hanging out chit chatting with a couple of former Yugoslav women - one from Belgrade, the other from Zagreb - and I think, 'well here's a funny story' and I bring up the raw bacon. They look at me like I'm nuts. "How else would you eat it?" the one from Zagreb asks.

OMG. Raw bacon. Situation normal. Ewww.

At last I ask, "is there any situation in which you'd cook the bacon before you eat it?" They think long and hard. "Perhaps with polenta or if you're frying some eggs?" at last the one from Belgrade ventures. "But, you'd cook it beforehand and pour off the fat before adding it to the rest of the food, right?" "No," she looks really confused, "Why would you want to do that?"

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jebiga! An Old (But Good) Story

When I first met my husband, he barely spoke English, but our hearts spoke the same language ... or so I thought with stars in my eyes.

Luckily I knew a guy at work who was half Serb, who indeed had spent a year of his college life in Belgrade. So, one day I asked him. There was this word my beloved used in conversation with me nearly constantly it seemed. And I was pretty sure it was an endearment. Which is why I didn't feel shy about asking my friend about it in public, in an open office full of people.

"What's the word?" he asked. "Jebiga!", I said, "'Jebiga, Honey.' He says it all the time to me. What does that mean?" My colleague gave me a look, such a look that I began to feel a bit foolish. Finally he said dryly, "Well, it's not endearment."

Two years later, by which time I could "jebiga!" with the best of them, he danced at our wedding.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Power of 'The Secret'

Zadar Croatia only has a tiny handful of bookstores, and they in turn only have a tiny handful of titles -- even in Croatian. These people are not big readers.

However, even in Zadar, bookshops carry copies of the worldwide bestseller, The Secret, which is a much-hyped redo of many, 'new age' tomes of the past, in particular Shaki Gawain's Creative Visualization. The Secret's premise is that if you visualize what you'd like to have in your life as though it's already there and you feel joy and gratitude for this fact, then pretty soon that item will appear. The universe bends to the power of your emotion-laden will.

The good news is, this is not all hype or new age mumbo jumbo. As much of advanced quantum physics and Lynne McTaggart's footnote-heavy book The Intention Experiment reveals, many scientific studies have been successfully conducted showing mind-power affects the "real" world.

All of which goes to explain why when I was a little stressed out about money recently, I decided to take action by visualizing a check for my lucky number five million in my hand. What's not to lose?

Lo and behold a few weeks later, my husband, to whom I did not reveal my secret get-rich plan, walks in the door crowing, "I've got a present for you!" Yes. A five million dinar bill from the craziest inflationary days of old Yugoslavia.

Which goes to show. The Secret does work, but you must be very specific about that which you ask for. As in currency that's legal tender.