Week 47. Slovakia. Detvianska Nátura

For any keen observers you might have noticed an unexpected three week gab between blog posts. I won’t go into the detail but life dealt a pretty tough blow which took a little time to get through. We are getting life back on track now so it is time to look back at normality. What this time did teach me is that there can be times when life just seems irrationally unfair, but that is not down to anything more than the science behind why we are here. We are not powerful enough to change anything major. Yes we can tweak things a bit by making sure people live a bit longer, but ultimately there is no point worrying about the major outcomes in life as we can’t influence them. What we can influence is what we do at the moment, how we strive for the future and what legacy we will leave our own families, as our legacy could be far more important than what we do during our life.

My legacy will likely not be this blog, but it could well be a part of what made me up and if the determination of me getting every country cooked is a trait which people will look up at, then maybe it could be a part of me.

I have been to Slovakia before. It was a stag-party in 2005. 30 naïve boys in their mid-twenties descended upon Bratislava. We hadn’t been to a stag-party before and therefore were likely driven by stories we had heard of the antics which befell such an occasion. As a result we played the weekend like parody of a group of idiots on a weekend away. We stayed on a boat on the Danube, stayed up until 5am each night and had two hours sleep. We shot guns in a horrifically unsafe environ, we go carted, we drank FAR too much and we threw up. We also all dressed up. We were horrible people for 3 days. From what I can remember of Bratislava it had a very Soviet feel to it from the 1980s. It was unpainted concrete grey with the bulging and ugly Danube cutting through the centre. There were supposedly beautiful areas, which we didn’t see, and instead we saw most of the places which made us think that the Quentin Tarantino film Hostel was very easy to imagine true.

As I have grown older I feel really bad to have the impression of Slovakia that I do and I am certain there is a side to the country which I did not see, but I just didn’t get a chance to see it. I would love the opportunity to go back and bolt a better memory of the country into my mind.

As I feel this way I decided to cook a dish which represented a different side of the country, a side I haven’t seen and a side I want to. I therefore chose Detvianska Natura, which can be translated to Detva’s Temper. It is called so, as it represents a city called Detva in the midst of Slovakia. It is known as “the temper” as the region is known for its hardy men who love their spicy food.

The make-up of the dish is very simple but the bite is strong. It meets my palate as I love the combination of paprika, mustard, horseradish and the cool potato base. It made me picture a hulk of a farmer returning from a day’s hard graft and needed to be filled quickly but not with any bland nonsense.

I would suggest cooking it on a very cold dark night when you need some sustenance which wouldn’t let you down with its meekness. A night when you think you would like something with mashed potato with it, but the Jalapeno jar in the fridge is also calling your name.

This week I have not a huge amount on; apart from preparing the house for my lovely wife’s return from New Zealand and preparing my sleep patterns again for the Rugby World Cup Semi Finals next weekend. I hope you have been enjoying it as much as I have.

Here is the recipe. Have a good week.

To make the meat dish you will see that you need to dice all the ingredients lengthway.

  • Start by cooking the onion for about 5 mins.
  • Add the pork and cook for 5 more.
  • Add the paprika, cayenne, ketchup and mustard and horseradish and cook until it is starting to look slightly too dry.
  • Add all remaining ingredients and cook for 5-10 minutes.
  • Add to the top of a potato cake. I chose to make a plate of potato cake.

Ingredients.

  • 400g Pork Steak
  • 1 Bell Pepper
  • 1 Onion
  • 250g Mushrooms
  • 1 Bell Tomato
  • Chillies to taste (don’t be soft on them)
  • 1 Tbsp Paprika
  • 1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 TBSP Tomato Ketchup
  • 1 TBSP Mustard
  • 1 TBSP Horseradish
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