When I was a child, the walk home from the school bus passed my grandparents’ house. I often stopped in to say hello - and to see if anything was going on in the kitchen. The best days were when Grandma (Babička) had a freshly baked loaf of bread cooling. She would cut a slice and slather it thickly with butter that would then melt into the still warm bread to sustain me for the rest of the walk home, another 1.5 kilometres up the mountain through bear-infested forest.
Many of us have nostalgic memories of food from each of our grandma’s kitchens. Grandmas have years of practice making the same recipes, years of honing her craft of loving people through feeding them. Many grandmas also have the experience of providing sustenance for a family when there wasn’t much food to cook with, valuable knowledge in these days of inflation.
My own experience of the connection between grandma, food, and love has given me a curiosity of other grandmas and their food, and is what propelled me into the kitchen of pani (Mrs.) Obúlaná. Five years ago, she graciously welcomed me into her kitchen to show me how to make slíže, homemade Slovak noodles.
Noodles in various forms are a popular food anywhere in the world where grains are grown, Slovakia being no exception. Today’s grandmas were cooking for their families when they couldn’t hop down to the nearest grocery store for a package of pasta, and so they made the noodles themselves. Another word for slíže is rezance, and Slovaks don’t seem to agree among themselves exactly which kind of noodles are which word.