A couch in the kitchen (??!)
My parents moved to Slovenia when they were a bit over 20 years old. So did a lot of my relatives who have lived here for more than 30 years now. But still, there’s this general attitude towards certain things in life that is rooted in their minds that fascinate me again and again. And that have – when I was a child – frustrated me and even made me ashamed to belong to such a community.
As I wrote my previous post about my grandmothers kitchen one of those things sprung up in my mind again.
It’s a fantasy about having a couch in the kitchen.
I remember my parents discussing this every now and then. I would come home from the school and find them discussing how they would rearrange our eating corner to fit a couch in it (because they’ve found a cheap one in store and it would just ‘fit’). I would go completely nuts (in my teenage years) at such ideas. I mean – we lived in a 50 sqare meters apartment – our kitchen was just a few steps away from the living room – and there, surely, we had a couch!
And imagine – my friends, coming to a visit and realizing we have a couch in the kitchen. Oh my God. How to explain that to somebody, who has never been to Bosnia, where (in rural areas, at least) it was normal to have a couch in the kitchen. Actually, not in kitchen, it was one room for cooking, eating, drinking coffee and meeting friends, socializing… They didn’t have a living room to put a couch in it so they put it in a ‘kitchen’.
So, later, my parents as well as a number of my relatives built a house in Bosnia – because, as most of the expatriots of their time, they believed they would return to their homeland when they earned enough money, or when the kids would start going to school, or when they retire, or… And you know what – all these people who have ‘seen the world’ (as the sometimes like to refer to themselves) have put a couch in their Bosnian kitchen. And put a tacky spread over it. Ooohh… and doilies! Couch is a perfect place to show all their handiwork for (I am sure) any ex-Yugoslav woman. From my childhood days I remeber/hate all sorts of crochet doilies being put on head rests of the couches.
And still sometimes, when we go to visit some of our relatives, the issue of what a comfort it is to have a couch in the kitchen arises. I guess it’s a longing of a special sort. Just like I miss the orchard and the green grass beneath the plum trees they miss the comfort of the rural kitchen, the sound of the simmering pot and the smell of Bosnian beans in it.
Today, I can say that I have learned to accept this type of differences among people belonging to different ethnicities. But they still amaze me – in a positive way. I grow, huh :)
If you, my ex-Yugoslav readers have suggestions for similar cultural fascination, bring it up. My husband just reminded me of another one – ‘summer kitchen’ – takozvana ‘ljetna kuhinja’. :)