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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 :)

Here's the couch from my grandmother's kitchen.

Here's the couch from my grandmother's kitchen.

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’.  :)

9 Comments leave one →
  1. 09/03/2009 01:14

    Who wouldn’t need a couch in the kitchen?! :))))

    I never had it in my kitchen (it was never big enough for the couch :))) ), plus, my Mom would go insane if she’d see anything but a couch in mimosa green-yellow and a carpet in same shades in her living room, let alone to put a couch in the kitchen and cover it with a blanket! :) (She’s from Bosnia, believe it or not! :)))) )
    My grandma doesn’t have one, but she did remove the wall between the kitchen and the living room to be closer to her couch! :)))
    But, now that I see this picuture…i remember of my other, late grandma- she loved a couch in the kitchen, she didn’t like living rooms and she LOVED to sleep on it! And, though she lived in a flat and in the centre of the town, she kept a cabinet just like the one in this picture until she died. Don’t know…Ifind this picture to be very warm! :)
    (Does it say Beautiful on this blanket??? :D )

    Hey, but how about doilies on a TV? Or under glasses filled with water?

  2. 09/03/2009 07:43

    Uvek su bili tako udobni za sedenje. Na jednom takvom kauču satima sam sedela i fascinirano gledala tetku kako plete!

  3. 09/03/2009 09:49

    Strangely enough, neither of my grannies had one, although now it strikes me as quite unusual considering the fact that all their neighbours did. I’ve seen couches in kitchens everywhere in Vojvodina and Serbia so I don’t think it’s an exclusively Bosnian thing (although, to be honest, it’s hard to say in Vojvodina because it’s such a melting pot that you can no longer tell). And whereas the Turkish influence cannot be disregarded (ottoman, divan), I believe it’s more a matter of practical organization of a household where only one room was heated in the winter. And this room was, as you say, a kitchen cum dining room cum living room. People needed a place to lie down after lunch without much formal preparation such as starting a fire or putting on clothes and I guess this was the most convenient way to do it. Mind you, my in-laws have a couch in their kitchen-dining room-living room and every time we go there, there is a race for the couch :) Especially after lunch :)And I love it when I win!

  4. 09/03/2009 09:56

    And yes, I forgot. ‘Letnja kuhinja’ reminded me – there’s also somehting called ‘prednja soba’ (front room), especially in villages around here. It’s a room that has windows looking onto the street, a room that is never heated and that no one ever lives in, which is kept perfectly neat and tidy (for guests), with all the best furniture and most cherished doilies. A room that looks more like a museum than a room in a house.

  5. 16/03/2009 03:14

    What a lovely article. A couch in the kitchen sounds like a cosy idea. I can imagine a couple of older women sitting, perhaps as they make doilies, as another makes up a pot of something for dinner.

  6. 16/03/2009 16:25

    hello! i don’t have your email, hence i am commentig ;))
    a postcard is waiting just to be posted to you, please email me your postaladress :)
    have a wonderful week

  7. 18/06/2009 15:04


    You know I like the story about the couch in the kitchen, but you don’t have to forget that such things like a couch in the kitchen makes that different people or ethnies are very great, and you don’t have to forget this, because it’s a part of national culture.

    You know, before in France the kitchen was the most important room of the house, and at this time you could find some strange things which had nothing to do in it.

    I like what you done with your Grand-Mother couch.

    bye bye


  8. 30/10/2010 01:52

    we always love to decorate our living rooms with bargain decors that we can find on the local store ::

  9. 16/11/2010 22:52

    living rooms should be decorated with style that is why i always get some living room decoration idea on the internet `”*

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