We’re excited to bring to you one of these tiny little everyday things that when you look again, represent the very essence of local culture: Dražgoški kruhek.
It’s a scrumptious honey biscuit that symbolises festivity, bio-resilience and cultural tradition in its home in the Slovenian Alps. That’s a mouthful, you might think, and you’d be right! We invite you to have a bite with us.
Dražgoški kruhek translates to as much as little breads from Dražgoše, a village in about an hour’s drive up the mountains from the Slovenian capital Ljubljana. The rich little breads have been produced here for centuries as a part the celebrations that in Europe traditionally take place in the darker months. It was what women turned to when the days became short and the weather hostile and all of their energy was poured into the sophisticated decorations and recipe variations of kruhek, whilst the men kept themselves busy with just as elaborate woodwork.
Whilst people keep busy and buzzing throughout the year, so do the bees. Dražgoški kruhek rely on the excellent honey made by the local “kranjska čebela” – or more accommodating to non-Slovenian tongues: The Carniolan Bee. This is a very resilient and apparently gentle type of bee, which has adapted perfectly to the climate of cold winters and short summers in the Eastern Alpine region. “The Grey Bee” as it is also known buzzes around under EU protection and seem happy with the beekeepers working alongside and with the little breads their produce are being transformed in to.
Dražgoše itself, the village that lends its name to Dražgoški kruhek, has a pretty special and gruesome history in the recent past. In Dražgoše, one of the most terrible and significant fights between the nazi-regime and dissident groups took place during the Second World War. Much to everyone’s horror, this resulted in the complete destruction of the village and deportation of all residents. It later transpired that against all odds, some had escaped and survived. Resilient and gentle like their bees, residents of the former Dražgoše met after the war, regained and rebuild the village. This time in a different way than the previous traditional layout, adapting to their current needs, by for instance allowing for more space around the houses for each family. Thus, the present day geographical village is more sprawled then the original one, but the community is ever as tight. And even these days, you find people preparing for celebration with the preparation of Dražgoški kruhek, made by hand and decorated con amore!
Typically, Dražgoški kruhek are shaped in hearts or flowers, wishing you love and prosperity. But for new years, they come in pairs of a saint and a devil, sending you the more somber message that with the patient and embracing saint-like comes the naughty, energetic and cheeky characters, too.