Category: Our Destinations

Croation Tales of Long Ago

Ivana

One of our readers and commenters recently told us about one of her favorite children’s book authors from Croatia – Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić. Although she passed away 1938 she is still considered to be one of Croatia’s most famous and well-loved writers for children. Born into a family of politicians and poets, Ivana homeschooled all six of her children, and became famous in 1913 for her book The Brave Adventures of Laptich. Croatian Tales of Long Ago was published in 1916 with huge success, which prompted Ivana’s nickname – “The Croatian Andersen” (in reference to Hans Christian Andersen). The stories are original, but reference characters and themes from traditional Slavic mythology.

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In 2002 and 2003 an animation artist named Helena Bulaja decided to adapt some of the Croatian Tales of Long Ago into a web animation project.  In her words: “The digital revolution, the Internet, and modern communications are on one side, and the world of fairytales on the other…the concept of the interactive book is so open, and unlike film, theatre, or illustration, it can take almost any form, it can be a film, an illustration, a game…”  The website is a little dated, but the animation is stunning, such as in Yagor below:

 

 

Yagor from Helena Bulaja on Vimeo.


This is part of an ongoing blog series exploring children’s literature and folk tales from the regions of Hungary, Romania, and Croatia. Do you have any recommendations? If so please feel free to leave a comment below.

Land of Falling Lakes

I’ve wanted to visit Croatia ever since I saw the PBS special Land of Falling Lakes about Plitvice Lakes National Park.  I could barely believe such a majestic landscape actually existed.   Sixteen bright turquoise lakes are nestled in woodland-covered mountains, and are connected by waterfalls, caverns and bubbling streams.  Plitvice Lakes was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979 for its “outstanding natural beauty.”
PlitviceLakeSpring
PlitviceLakes01PlitviceLakeAutumn
PlitviceLakeWinter
Spring photo (top) by Elliot Jenko
Summer photo (2nd from top) by Jack Brauer
Fall photo (3rd from top) found here
Winter photo (bottom) found here

The documentary takes you through the seasons of the park, teaches you about the land’s unique ecology and introduces you to many of its animal residents.  With fascinating explanations of animals and the landscape of the region, this documentary will appeal to all ages.

Stream the previewPurchase the DVDAdd it to your Netflix queue.  Or better yet, go visit.

Kati and Kormos

On a quest for children’s stories from Hungary, Romania, and Croatia, I found myself at the San Francisco Public Library:

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The Main Branch downtown is massive, with 6 stories of books, and an amazing Children’s Section. To my surprise I found piles and piles of folk tales from these regions, and thanks to a kind librarian, was able to look at some books from the Historical Archives, which are not loaned out to the public. The one which resonated the most for me in both illustration and content was Kati and Kormos, written by Anico Surany and illustrated by Leonard Everett Fisher:

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Kati Viszla is a prize-winning hunting dog who lived in a grand kennel on a huge estate in Hungary. She was happy, but lonely, as her owner Count Toldy was away often, and she spent most of her days inside a cage, and bored.

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Luckily one day she met Kormos Puli, a shaggy little sheepdog, and his owner Old Imne:

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She learns to love a life of herding and not hunting, and abandons her life of lonely luxury for a life with good company.

kk fire

The illustrations are gorgeous in person. The tale is simple but the writing is wonderfully descriptive, and similar to Selma the Sheep, I find it conveys wisdom within its pages. The author Anico Surray is born of Hungarian ancestry, and owns a Viszla dog similar to Kati. Leonard Everett Fisher has an MFA from Yale, and has illustrated over 100 kids books, including 11 of his own.

Published by Holiday House Press in 1966, copies of this book are not very easy to find, but Amazon has a few for sale here.

This is part of an ongoing blog series exploring children’s literature and folk tales from the regions of Hungary, Romania, and Croatia. Do you have any recommendations? If so please feel free to leave a comment below.

Croatians love soccer

Hajduk Split is a Croatian football club, one of the most popular in the country. If you had World Cup fever like we did here at Tea, you learned that the whole world calls soccer “football.” Croatia is one of the countries where they spell it “fotbal”.

Their bold graphics really scored with us.

Photograph by Mandy Loncar

Learn more about the team on one of their Facebook fan pages.

Check out some of the Old World Hungary products the Split Hajduk graphics inspired:

Football Jersey Polo

Football Stripe Hoodie

And if you want to play soccer, a great resource is the American Youth Organization where everyone plays. GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLLL!

Kolacky Recipe

One of my favorite ways to explore a new country is through taste. Whenever I travel I try my best to eat locally, from street vendors, small restaurants, or whenever possible, local people’s kitchens. I’ve eaten fresh feta salads in Greece, baked fish in Morocco, foufou in the Congo, and tamales here in San Francisco. Having not visited any of the modern countries that formerly made up Old World Hungary, I thought I’d do some research into traditional cuisine and see what I could make here in the States.  Kolacky will appeal to the most stubborn sweet tooth, and are easy and fun to make with your kids.

When searching for Kolacky cookie recipes I found references to Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. Perhaps due to their tastiness they seem to be common across much of Central Europe. Also known as Kolachi, Kolacki, Kolaczki, or Kolachky, these sweet fluffy cookies are a breeze to make, and with a little bit of fruit in there you can even pretend they’re healthy. I recommend making and refrigerating the dough in advance, and including kids for the rolling, cookie-cutting, and final construction steps.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup any flavor fruit jam (I used strawberry jam, and orange marmalade)
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar for decoration

Directions:

1.   Mix cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add flour slowly until well blended. Shape into a ball and chill in the fridge until firm.

2.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out 1/8 inch thick on a well-floured counter. Cut into squares approximately 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches, and place about 1/2 tsp of jam or preserves in the middle. Overlap opposite corners and pinch together. The dough puffs up in the oven,  so make sure they’re sealed well so that they don’t open up when cooking (a little water warm water helps create a smooth seal). Place on ungreased cookie sheets.

kolacki on tray

3.      Bake for 12 – 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool. Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar.

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Share your results and suggestions below. Have a favorite kolacky recipe? Please let us know!

Tea’s Norway Inspiration: part II

Norway is renowned as the “cradle of skiing” and it is possible to ski there, even in the summer time.

Emily and I wanted to see these snow capped mountains first, so we headed toward Jotenheimen National Park, home to Norway’s highest peaks.

We needed to rest up before we embarked on our journey through the mountains, and found ourselves in the perfect spot. The quaint and eclectic Elevester Hotel sits in the shadows of Norway’s tallest mountain.

Inside, the hotel is decorated with motifs and crafts from Norwegian history.

The upholstery fabric and hand painted designs on the antique furniture inspired some of our winter textiles, as used in our Elevester Floral Dress (shown above).

We were ready to make our way up to the peaks. As we climbed higher, the snow walls began to tower at least 3 feet above our car. I was starting to regret not bringing along some cozy mittens and warmer layers…

…but along our decent, snow gave way to waterfalls and lush green pastures.

We decided to stop in Skjolden, a small town on the other side of the mountains. We were delighted to find that the town was having a local craft fair. Here we met Olga, a sweet woman selling her hand knitted mittens and slippers.

The history of hand knitting in Norway dates back to Viking times and most snowflake motifs and lice patterning that we see on ski sweaters today, originated there. A Norwegian collection would not be complete without a nod to these designs.

Our Skjolden Ski Cardigan and Viking Intarsia Vest (shown above).

At a rest stop we noticed an unusual steeple silhouetted against the setting sun. These dragon head gables are distinct to Norway’s Stav churches.

We went to Borgund to find the only Stav church that has been unaltered since the middle ages.

The intricate framework and gabled roof inspired the architecture of our twirling Stav Dress (shown above).

We ended our trip in the harbor city of Bergen, where even the radiating colors of the 11pm sunset left it’s impression on us.

Our interpretation of a midnight sunset is conveyed through our Ombre Tunic Sweater (shown below).