Some friends of ours concocted an elaborate scheme to get us to their place to get drunk. “Leftovers,” they said. “We have so many leftovers from our party. Come and take some home.”
With trepidation, we went back to their house to pick up the food.
“You may as well have a beer,” they said. Arms firmly twisted behind our resisting backs, we reluctantly agreed. Four hundred beers, a bottle of pelinkovac, a floor pile up and some performance poetry later, we put the leftovers back in their fridge and passed out in the spare room.
Life as an expat can be really weird. It opens up doors and opportunities that normally aren’t available. Especially in a small city like Zagreb, it’s easy to get to know interesting people and get invited to bizarre events. We’ve had lunch in an ambassador’s residence, toured the national television station, and even appeared in a program about foreigners learning Croatian.
But the best thing is that locals hear our faltering Croatian and are delighted that we like their country enough to learn this ridiculous language. They love talking to us, finding out why we’re here, praising our dreadful accents. There are very definitely two types of Croatian in Zagreb – the snobby kind who wear the latest fashions and toddle about trying to look like they just stepped out of a Milan fashion show. And then there are the real people, the cool people, who just open up their hearts to you.
Just before Easter, we went to the market and had a few wines at our favourite bar (yes, the market has a bar. Several. It’s great!) The owner and her daughter were running around, smiling, as they always do. They gave us a bunch of radishes and shallots to take home.
“You should come on Tuesday,” the owner said. “After Easter I will have lots of ham leftover. Come on Tuesday at midday and eat some ham.”
We dutifully went to her bar on Tuesday morning, ate ham and boiled eggs, and drank some wine.
Obviously, we can’t say no to leftovers.