Today is Friday
In my eyes a Friday in Ljubljana is by far the best day of the week. The people in the streets are smiling. The buildings are alive with the sound of music and conversation.
The Fridays here are on a level I have never witnessed anywhere else. At first, I thought it had something to do with it being the weekend, it didn’t. Then I thought maybe it had something to do with the marvelous nightlife the city offers, It wasn’t. So then I assumed it had to be something connected to the sensational Ljubljana Food Market, it was. This market is the reason Fridays here are so good. It offers such marvel and wonder; a place people gather to taste the foods of the world, a place they can explore other cultures and heritages, a place they can socialise into the darkest hours of the night.
It’s here in Ljubljana my love for food truly surfaced. My nose would flare as I got as ecstatic as a kid in a candy shop. My inner fatty would protrude from beneath, coming out to play, wanting to devour everything in sight. I never did, I always practiced such constraint and control, it was impressive. Whenever we came to the markets I always took my time and assessed each and every stall. Like a food critic or inspector. Lurking, taking mental notes of the noises my senses were making. Each stall open planned, busy and bursting at the seams with their own seductive scent, luring me into a world of wonder.
In addition to the mass range of food, there happened to also be just as big as a collection of drinks. White, red, rose, dark, colourful, bubbly and flat. The selection was admirable. Putting most bars and clubs to utter shame. To me, this place became such a breath of fresh air to my monotonous food choices of the week. It’s on a Friday, every Friday, I would say no to the healthy eating. No to the chicken and rice. No to the food scales. It was the only day I would say yes to diving in head first towards the fatty unhealthy yet beautiful foods of the world. All at my finger tips.
My First Time
As soon as we crossed the road in the direction of the market we were met with an overwhelming echo of laughter, music, and conversation. I grabbed Danielle’s hand. Hurrying her along. Stomach turning, creating knots. My nose following the trail of aromas. There are people of all ages and backgrounds here. Different languages filling the surrounding air. The vibe energetic and consuming. Food is being dished out left and right, hot and cold, sweet and savory.
As a 21-year-old, I am very much not a 21-year-old, in the sense that I barely drink. I’m not sure why I just don’t. Even on special occasions, I will stop myself after 2/3. For me it’s not a necessity, it’s not a vital component in having a good time. I’m perfectly happy staying sober and consuming my body weight in either water or coffee. So to get me to drink on an average day is a task in itself. One that became easy whilst consumed in this market. I mean how could I not.
Parading around in my clothes deemed a little smarter than casual, I headed in the direction of the drinks most fitting. The bubbling glass of rose Prosecco aligned itself nicely with the salmon coloured linen shirt I had on. Served in a fish bowl of a wine glass for that extra sass. The bubbles popped and sprang from the glass, the taste sweet and mouth watering, so nice I had to have more. Just one more. It was one of those drinks that peacefully lingered in the back of your throat, letting out erupted sparks of flavour every once in a while.
Glasses in hand we take to the maze that is the market. People heading in different directions. We squeeze, snake, dive, curl and push through the masses. Our minds racing at the thought of what to eat. I, being the bloke, opt for the direction of the burger stalls. Already tasting the beef between my lips. As we edge closer and closer to the counter I catch Danielle’s eyes widening. The burgers look humongous, and they were. A quick €5 passed through hands in exchange for a mountain of deliciousness. We flee to the edge of the market. Covering our prizes like they’re a defenseless child. We see steps. Backs turned, bums perched and mouths open. We are ready to consume.
The Taste Test
The first bite was WOW. The second YES. The third OH, and it continued like this until all that was left were the juice soaked napkins, crumbled up in our hands.
Over the years I hold my head high in pride with the fact that I have tried countless burgers from countless shops, restaurants, and vendors. However, none. I mean none, compared to the taste of what I have just eaten. The meat was so tender and cooked a perfect medium rare, allowing more juice to flow through. This then caused the grilled brioche bun to soften on the inside, still leaving the outside hard like a shell. As I think back to the meal I’ve just devoured my tongue glides along the floor of my mouth, picking up any remaining pieces. Reminding me of the addictive sauce featured. Not one component was off or wrong. Nothing was out of balance. Everything worked in perfect harmony to create a burger dreams are made of.
As the sun casts its shadows and our eyelids become heavy. We feel the end of the day near. It’s time to scout out desert.
Of course, just like the vast choice of main dishes, desserts had those to match. We saw nitro ice cream bars left, right, behind and in front. The sound of smoothie machines churning away, mixing vibrant, colourful fruits to liquid. There was cheese cake. Oh, heavenly cheese cake. With white, thick, foam like cream stretching tall on top of each piece. People leaving the stand with literal blocks of paradise on each paper plate.
We latch to the back of the line. Bending around tables and chairs. Forcing into the space of other stalls. We had obviously picked a winner. Or so I thought. Whilst stood in this catastrophe of a line my head twitched slightly to the left. It was at that moment I saw something I didn’t recognise. Something unknown to me, something mysterious. I glanced back at our line, now seemingly miles and miles long. Then back to this new exotic and appealing stall.
Perhaps for a reason. Perhaps not. It was then, at the moment of my grueling decision my stomach which was presumably full. Began to feel empty. Empty like the line of this mystery dessert stall. My stomach now calls out a hunger cry for whatever it was seeing.
I look at Danielle, obviously waiting for approval. I see her eyes focus behind my head and then back to me. She’s in. In one fluid motion, we leap and spin to the counter of this unknown stall. It looks Slovenian. I point to the picture on the right, saving the embarrassment of me trying to speak its name aloud. The woman smiles, passing over the desert with two forks. I hand over €3 in return. There’s no time to find a spot to eat. We just stand, huddled together as if we need the extra body heat. Now is the moment of truth. Did we jump the gun and opt for something vile. I look down. It’s a cake. Well, something resembling a cake. There seem to be multiple layers of pastry with various fillings in between. One of the layers presenting what looks to me like crumbled cheese.
Risky I know.
My fork pushes through and manages to scoop up a bit from every section. Danielle does the same. We look at each other, eyes making contact. Moving both pieces of cake together so they clash, we shout “Cheers”.
Oh ‘Sweet’ Lord
Once again my mouth explodes with flavour; Sweet, savory, bitter, dry. All things that aren’t meant to be there. This cake is strange. Strange but extremely tasty. The filling between the pastry can now be identified as plums, with various nuts and seeds spread across. I taste a hint of cheese. That must be the crumble I saw spilling from the sides. It sounds, looks and tastes weird but there is something about this cake that makes it irresistible. If you saw us now you would know it was just by the look on our faces. The whole cake was gone in a matter of minutes. I take a moment, close my eyes and taste the lingering earthy flapjack like texture present on my tongue.
Today is Friday.
In my eyes a Friday in Ljubljana is by far the best day of the week.