The kitchens in these places have always smelled of different herbs that were added to soups, stews, one-pot meals, goulash and sauces, risottos or even to fried dishes.
Meat dishes were highly esteemed by both guests and the local people. People prepared and still prepare meat dishes in hundreds of ways that are full of strong flavours from the herbs and spices.
Lake Cerknica provided many fish for preparing fish dishes.
Potatoes were regularly used in this cuisine. They prepare “krompir v zevnici” (potatoes with sauerkraut), “krompir na župi” (potato soup) or “zaroštan krompir” (potatoes with vegetables and topped with roux). In these areas, beans are also very popular. It is used for matevž (puréed beans with cracklings), jota (sauerkraut, potato and bean stew with sausage), bean stews and trojka s kavro (thick kohlrabi hot pot). Always, the local kitchen has been filled with different vegetables: cabbages, turnips, vzrota (kale), kavra (kohlrabi), spinach, fennel and even nettles.
There are the descriptions of some of traditional dishes (summarized from the book Knjiga o notranjski kuhinji in drugih rečeh of Stanislav Renčelj, PhD):
Krompir v zevnci/zevenci/zelnici/zevnci/zivnici (potatoes with sauerkraut)
This dish is prepared in different ways and everyone is proud of their own procedure. Some people cook potato pieces and the sauerkraut separately. Then, they put both ingredients on a plate, top with cracklings and serve with cooked pork. The dish is even tastier if the potatoes and cabbage are cooked in one pot. The cabbage must be placed on the potatoes. When the potato start to boil, add the cabbage and salt. During the subsequent cooking phase, a slight skin forms on the potatoes as it hardens due to the acid, and is more firm, does not overcook and is more tasty. Then you strain the cabbage water and add salt, pepper and garlic to the potato and cabbage, and top with cracklings, pieces of smoked pork or sausage. Pickled turnip may also be prepared in a similar way.
Zaroštan krompir (potatoes with vegetables and seasoned with roux)
Pieces of boiled potatoes are topped with roux made from fat, onion, garlic and flour. The flour thickens the dish, and the addition of vinegar, according to some, improves the taste.
Krompir na župi (potato soup)
Peel the potatoes and boil them in salted water. To enrich the taste, add parsley or lovage. When the potatoes have boiled, top them, most often with onion and crackling or pan-fried liver sausage. The dish is light and quick to make.
Zaroštan fižol (beans with vegetables and topped with roux)
In Zgornja Pivka, people cook the beans with slices of apple. Then, they thicken the dish with roux made from fat, flour (bread crumbs) and garlic.
Bean soup is very popular. First, you purée the beans, thicken with roux and boil home-made noodles, bleki (noodle dough squares) or other pasta.
Matevž (puréed beans with cracklings)
Boil the potatoes in salted water with lots of garlic. Cook the beans separately. Strain both vegetables, put the potatoes in the pot with the beans with a small amount of the beans’ water. Mash everything well and thicken. Top the dish with fried onions and cracklings. Eat this dish topped with sauerkraut.
Bloška kavla (koleraba/kavra) or trojka (thick kohlrabi hot pot)
You need three ingredients to prepare this dish: kohlrabi, potatoes and beans. Enriched the dish with yellow or red carrots, parsley, onions, garlic and pepper. Mash the beans and leave some beans whole, to make the finished dish look better. Add all the other ingredients. They say that it is impossible to make a good “kavra” without pork.
Barley with pork
Soak the barley in water before cooking it. Cook it in salted water with pieces of pork. Cook the beans separately. When the barley is almost done, add pieces of potato and the carrots if you like. Finally, add the boiled barley, parsley, pepper and the other vegetables. It is not necessary to thicken the dish with flour.