You Might Be Croatian If…

*The other day as I was doing some blog housekeeping I came across what was, at the time it was published, one of my most popular posts, Growing Up Croatian. And as I skimmed through it, it occurred to me that it was only partially complete. There was so much I left out, forgot about, or didn’t think of until later. {Which just goes to show that sometimes it pays to sit on a post for a few days before publishing}. Therefore I have decided to re-visit and re-write the whole thing.

*Please note: this post may well be based on actual people, events, and facts, but while the observations are my own the beliefs and views described in it are not, and it’s not my intention to cause even a shred of offense to any non-Croatians. Please read it with a sense of humor and by the end of it be glad you’re not Croatian 😉

You might be Croatian if…

…your family life revolves around food. The first condition is that there must be Vegeta in absolutely everything. Ditto garlic. If you don’t know what Vegeta is then relax, you’re not Croatian. This bright yellow chicken-stock-powder-and-dehydrated-vegetable-salt is substituted in every instance a normal person would use salt. EVERY INSTANCE. Anyone who doesn’t use it is guaranteed to be a terrible cook, and it is always purchased in the largest size available, and should last the average Croatian household about a week.

Still on food, there is no amount of coaxing that will ever convince your parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles that any other nation on Earth cooks or eats as well as Croatians. The complexities of Asian cuisine are brushed away with a comment that will invariably go something like: “but all they eat is rice”; even our neighbours in Italy are average cooks, why else do they smother everything in tomato sauce?; Greeks know absolutely nothing about preparing fish, and besides what do they have besides Kalamata olives and Feta cheese? Any attempt to take your relatives out to a nice restaurant will end in embarrassment {yours}, as they order a prime cut of steak to be cooked “well done plus another ten minutes”, then you will listen to them complain how tough said steak is and what shitty meat these restaurants charge people for. The older generation will be insulted to see polenta or pumpkin soup on the menu because, after all, this was the food they fed their pigs back in the village.

Spit roasted meat is the food of choice for any special occasion, which ensures that Croatian children will all witness either the slaughtering itself, or at the very least walk into the kitchen one morning to be confronted with a whole pig lying on the bench staring at them. On these special days there will be enough food to feed the neighbourhood, and if anything actually runs out YOU HAVE FAILED AND MUST NEVER SHOW YOUR FACE AGAIN. Faced with mountains of leftovers Croatian families will eat them for the next few days for lunch and dinner, until someone breaks down and cries when offered cold pork one more time, at which point the woman of the house will throw the leftover food away, all the while crossing herself and asking God to forgive her for throwing food in the bin when there are starving people in the world.

…you know the word “propuh”. It basically translates to a draft which blows into the house through a partially open door or window. It is highly dangerous and is to be avoided at all costs, and you will frequently hear the refrain, “where is the propuh coming from?”, as that person looks around frowning and eventually gets up and closes every door and window in the vicinity. If all of this sounds like something you would think of as “fresh air” then you are obviously not Croatian.

…shots of rocket fuel are passed around at all hours of the morning, afternoon, and night. Good manners dictates that when guests arrive you offer them a shot of homemade rakija {think grappa or ouzo}. But far from being just a beverage it also doubles as a home remedy for backache and arthritis {rub some rakija on it}, and as a sore throat gargle {gargle with some rakija}. Back in the good ol’ days no wedding party could end until the rakija was almost all gone. {ALMOST, you’re never actually allowed to run out of anything.}

…speaking of weddings, you are probably Croatian if planning your wedding involves every single cousin being in the bridal party. Including the ones you don’t like and especially the ones who won’t do justice to the watermelon pink taffeta gowns that your Dad’s cousin is sewing for everyone. You may also be Croatian if the guest list goes over the 500 people mark, a few of which you have never heard of, and including but not limited to, every person who has ever invited your family to their own or childrens’ wedding. For good measure your parents will invite all of your cousins and relatives who live just about everywhere in the world and who no-one actually expects to come. The desserts offered at the reception are not acceptable and every female relative will spend the two weeks prior baking good Croatian cakes. And if the pre-ceremony nibbles at the brides’ parents house resembles most actual wedding receptions, and the after party the next day has about a hundred or so people squeezed into the garage, changes are good that you are Croatian.

…if everyone you know subscribes to the mantra, why buy what you can make yourself, you just might be Croatian. This entails the children stomping on the grapes for the wine, the garden shed being used to cure and dry the prosciutto, furtively watching out for neighbours and passers by as your father and uncle cook up the {illegal to make at home} rakija, backyards given over to vegetable plots instead of say, a swing set, and there is never ever going to be a justifiable reason to buy your small child commercially prepared baby food. Instant fail. Your grandmother who used to get up at 5.30 am to start your lunch when you were a baby will never forgive you.

…you will be used to hearing a certain saying for every given situation. As you head out the door for your first disco you will hear “pamet u glavu”, or: have some common sense and don’t be the drunken slut that everyone talks about. Yes, all that in just three words. When something you have bought breaks you will get “skrtac dva put placa”, or: why did you try to save money by buying cheap shit when everyone knows that whenever you buy something you must buy the most expensive as it is obviously the best?”. My personal favourite is “da se budale cudu”, which basically means “because you are a fuckwit”. And when confronted with under-cooked meat you will hear your dad say something about how this meat could still get up and run around.

…before the legal age of eighteen your entire social life will revolve around Croatian clubs, Croatian sporting events, Croatian youth or social groups, and Croatian folk dancing classes. It doesn’t matter how young you may be, you WILL be allowed to travel, unsupervised, interstate for that folklore festival, and it is inevitably at such an event that you will get drunk and will probably have your first pash. But your parents won’t be worried about any of that going on because you will be in the company of well brought up and well behaved Croatian children.

…at every large social event where Croatians gather you will learn of yet more relatives. It will sometimes appear that every random stranger your parents say hello to is your grandmother’s father’s brother’s great-great grandchild’s son. And don’t ever develop a crush on any cute Croatian boy that you just met because chances are that he’s your cousin too.

…misbehaviour is dealt with by using physical punishment. There will be pinching when subtlety is called for, threats will be made as you drive to someone’s house, the humble wooden spoon will be waved in your face and at your bum far more than it stirs any sauce, and pride of place in every Croatian home goes to the siba. Pronounced shiba, it will usually be a thin branch from the fig tree, and is highly effective at keeping Croatian kids in line.

…your grandparents and parents will yell at you to stfu while they watch the nightly news. At the end of the program one of two things will happen. After intently listening to every word they will turn to you and ask what was just said. Or they will comment on it in such a way as to make it clear that they had not a single clue what they just listened to.

…Croatians do not believe in drink driving. There is not a single Croatian man over the age of fifty who is EVER OVER THE LIMIT. And don’t you dare suggest otherwise because you are then being disrespectful and calling your own father a drunk. And an idiot. You will cross your fingers and hope for the best. You may even say a little prayer on the ride home.

…being a pious Catholic is great, but if attending Sunday Mass is more about being social and getting a free fashion show then you’re probably Croatian. Don’t bother turning up unless you are dripping in designer labels and look like you’re going to a wedding. As you mature and have your own family you will suddenly feel the need to end every Faceboook update with the words “God bless”, and lest you forget your political side you will also tack on “Za Dom”, which translates to “ready for the homeland”. And has world war two fascist associations, but, who cares, whatever. It sounds and looks patriotic.

…you hate Serbian people without knowing why. You could never see anything all that wrong with them and may have even liked the ones you knew at school or work, but you also knew that you were NOT ALLOWED to admit to this. As a child you were confused when someone told you that Croatia was not an actual country, and that you were from Yugoslavia. That may have been true but when you asked your parents about it they raged at the stranger who would dare to tell their child such a thing. They then glossed over the “facts” and told you not to let anyone tell you that Croatia wasn’t a proper country EVER AGAIN. {Even though it wasn’t until 1991. But then again Croatians never let the truth get in the way of “the facts”}.

So in conclusion, if one or more of these scenarios sounds familiar, if you have cringed, laughed, or nodded your head as you read through this, then CONGRATULATIONS! You are officially Croatian. {And even if you think you’re not you really are, because everyone Croatian somewhere down the line}.

And finally:

 

Til next time,

Ana.

P.S. And there’s no doubt I have managed to leave something out yet again, so please, use the comments to add to the list! Thanks!

  1. Reblogged this on Babbleogue and commented:
    A fresh take on one of my most popular posts, with all the extra’s I left out the first time. Here are some signs that you might be Croatian…

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  2. It was great last time and it’s still funny and hauntingly accurate this time too!

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  3. Hey Anna,

    Amazing post. I absolutely loved it. i want to be a Croatian now. First Brown Croatian :))

    I was the first to Like this post this time, as I am sure this is going to go viral :))

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    1. Lol, thanks so much. Feel free to share it round! X.

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  4. So true!! we took my in laws to Japanese Teppanyaki and one said” what kind of restaurant is this where they don’t serve bread???” LOLOL
    Great post – I’d like to add the Croat’s love of Kupus and Sarma and also the fruit of life “smokve” mandatory in every backyard heheheheheheh

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    1. Yes, have heard the where is the bread story too, lol. Thanks Suze.

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  5. Ana you couldn’t have said it any better , so true.

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    1. Thank you, too much to work with, lol.

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  6. hehe I love this. Thanks for sharing. xoxox

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    1. Was too much fun, lol.

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  7. […] the better part of this past year. She is currently in the thick of a white European winter, and my last post about being Croatian combined with the recent Australia Day celebrations led to some Facebook comments which led to some […]

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  8. I think you need to brush up on your Croatian history. Croats have been living in Croatia for the past 1300 years and in that time we have definetly been a “proper country”. We have been independent at different times in history and in different unions (with serbs, slovenians, austrians and so on and so on…). So pls, check the history books before you say we were never a country before 1991….

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    1. Other than that one little remark, nice post overall, helped me explain some things to my non-croatian boyfriend

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    2. My Croatian history is actually quite good, what I was referring to was that period of time during the break up of Yugoslavia, when Australian born kids of Croatian parents were told we had no country and were in fact Yugoslav. It was more a reflection of the lack of history and understanding taught to us, because the fact is that it was a republic within Yugoslavia while we were thinking that Croatia was an independent sovereign nation.

      I certainly never meant to say that it had never ever been a proper country.

      Thanks for reading.

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      1. Well if they told you there wasn’t a Croatia in Yugoslavia, then they were right, you were not even allowed to say you were a Croat back then cos you could’ve ended up in jail, so ofc they were conditioned to call themselves Yugolsavs. I really don’t think it was a lack of understanding or knowledge on their side, I guess that was just what they believed at the time

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        1. But growing up in Australia you could say you were Croatian with no fear of reprisal. The thing I’m talking about was our lack of understanding of the situation. We grew up so far away, and all we knew was that we were Croatian.

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    3. To Corra Noire – your last post is absolutely not true. Croatians living in Yugoslavia were free to call themselves Croatians.
      To the author – very funny and very true.

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      1. Thanks Sara, and yes, you’re right. Everyone I know who lived in Croatia while it was Yugoslavia had no problems. But my whole point was about those of us elsewhere. Thanks for reading.

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  9. i was laughing sooo hard about the Vegeta! Its so true! we have at leave 3 cans at all times! i live in America and we ship it in because we cant live without it!!

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    1. I’ve gone cold turkey on the vegeta! Stopped buying it when I realised that I could cook just fine without it, lol.

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  10. What a great read! It certainly brought back some childhood memories! And some, well …. they’re still a part of our life now! lol I just love how non-Croatians pronounce Vegeta. No matter how you try to correct them, some people just can’t get it right.

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    1. Thanks Kathy, glad you enjoyed it. And yes, some of it still holds true!

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  11. You know you’re Croatian when your father dies and your Australian friends support you at that terrible time and your Croatian relatives criticise the funeral.

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    1. Ouch. I’m so sorry if that’s what you went through. Also, you know you’re Croatian when your parents disown you for not living your life the proper Croatian way and being too Aussie. Thank god for the non Croatians in our lives.

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      1. Thank you Ana74x – yes, we’re going through that right now. Our relatives didn’t even come to the wake we held for Dad – they had their own. As you say, thank God for the non Croatians in our lives.

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        1. You know, I wrote this post as a humorous piece, but I really feel at this point that the whole idea of being Croatian in Australia has warped our family relationships. It sounds like you have good people around you.

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  12. And Ana74x – just live your Aussie life and enjoy. Thanks for your support.

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  13. heeeehehe….so funny 🙂
    How about your grandmother and a neighbor talking infront of you about how amazing and skinny and good at school and at piano playing the neighbors grand daughter is and then turns around to you and says “do you hear that??”

    Liked by 1 person

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