Cheers 🎋 for Samurai Blue

I learnt Japanese with great enthusiasm from my Japanese friends who lived in Belgrade at the time, a few years before I officially enrolled in Mandarin Chinese at the University back in the early 1990s. For two years I studied the two languages simultaneously until I gave up on Japanese in the third academic year, mostly because of the hectic lecture schedules which made it quite difficult to physically keep up with both. My level of Japanese had already advanced to upper intermediate by then and I thought that was good enough.

 
My Japanese friends, both high school teachers, encouraged me to move to Japan and work there, but I was absolutely reluctant to leave my parents and so I declined their kind invitation.

 
Anyway, a couple of months ago, quite inadvertently, I came across an interesting Japanese drama called バンビーノ! (bambino or bambina, a general term of endearment for kids in Italian). I became curious as to what Italian had to do with Japan, so I watched the first episode. Being so absorbed in other languages I use daily, I almost forgot I’d be hearing modern spoken Japanese again, and after a long, long time… And with the story related in a way to my Italian roots, I watched on, all eleven. Needless to say, I was stunned at how the language surged back like a flood from a long unopened shelf in the back of my mind to the point where I can again speak it quite well, even though I haven’t used it much for almost two decades.

 
For anyone interested in Japan and their culture, and how it fits in the 21st century, Bambino has it all. The educative focus of the story is on the typically Japanese mentality of “giri” (duty) and perseverance, something we all should learn and practice, no matter where we are in this big wide world.

 
And if in addition to all this you enjoy cooking, especially Italian food (who doesn’t? ) and perhaps (like me) cheered for Samurai Blue’s amazing football performance in the World Cup in Russia, please, have a watch of the rebel boy Bambino, I’m sure you’ll love it !

 

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Of Home-Made Bread, Cheese, Traditions, Love & Appreciation

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homemade bread-rolls – домаће кифлице

I’ve always been very picky with food, basically I  prefer fish and salads to anything else, but recently I’ve also started baking my own bread, as it is virtually impossible to find anything baked without additives these days. I’m also what you’d call moderately intolerant to lactose. I can cope with small quantities of hard cheese and I actually love mozzarella, but when it comes to fresh cheese, I usually give up.  There is one little exception: the light white cheese from Mt. Jastrebac. I love it !

In fact, Serbia is famous for many varieties of cheese, the most famous being the so called cachciavallo kačkavalj, a speciality from the southern small town of Pirot, (where my Dad’s grandfather’s origins are) situated in the vicinity of the famous historical city and the birthplace of Constantine the Great, the city of Naissus (Niš).  And of course, the dairy spread KAJMAK (kuy-mukh) from Šumadija (Dad’s home region, in Central Serbia).

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Serbian light white cheese from Mt.Jastrebac – млади Јастребачки сир

The cute hot-pad in the picture is my most used kitchen item. It’s actually one of my first crochet makes, and the one I created in one go without any written pattern, being a crochet novice, but very enthusiastic about it. I  saw a picture of the little hen hot-pad a couple of years ago when I was just starting to teach myself to crochet. I loved it so much I wanted one, too !  So I made one.

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crochet hot-pad КОКИЦА  (little hen)

Traditionally, women in my part of the world and in all of Balkans possess the inborn talent to improvise in order to”reproduce” (read: knit or crochet) a nearly exact replica of almost anything they see, without written instructions, that’s how I was taught to knit, first by Mum, then by my Dad’s mother grandma Mila and later my mum’s baby sister Jadranka (Adriana in Italian), who never spent a day without needles or those tiny thread crochet hooks in her hands :-).

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I made this crochet heart relatively recently, just for fun, improvising on a circular vest chart I saw in a Japanese magazine. Looks like a nice stitch for a shawl, maybe ?! But with thinner yarn and a smaller hook, don’t you think.

Anyway, I’m sending it to all of you my regular and less regular blog readers including invisible visitors, with Love, wishing you a happy Sunday 🙂