Compared to her husband, first lady Melania Trump is a bit of a mystery. Most people know she’s President Donald Trump’s wife. And you’ve likely gathered she wasn’t born in the United States. We’ve unearthed many interesting things you probably didn’t know about Melania Trump. But plenty of aspects of her daily life — such as what she likes to eat and whether she likes to cook — remain in the dark.
In fact, NPR reports that though first ladies usually set the culinary tone of the White House and start food trends that sweep the nation, “Melania’s menu is a mystery.” We’re not sure whether she spends any time in the kitchen. And we don’t know what she likes to feed her family. But we do know she grew up in Slovenia. So though we can’t say what the first lady eats now, we have an idea of the traditional Slovenian dishes she ate as a young girl.
Curious about how Melania Trump’s childhood diet might compare to yours? Read on to get the details.
A Saveur writer visiting Slovenia started his journey with pršut, which he describes as “Slovenia’s excellent air-dried ham.” Slovenia.si explains pršut is typically a dried pork ham. A fresh ham is cleaned and salted, and then it’s left to dry. Some producers salt the meat in specially made tubs, while others dry salt it. The salt is then washed off, and the ham is pressed into its characteristic flattened shape to remove moisture. It can take between 9 and 15 months for the ham to dry and cure.
2. Prleška tünka
Another Slovenian food Saveur encountered in the part of the country that acts as a “Slavic Tuscany, where people still ate the way they did before the first World War” is prleška tünka. It consists of slices of roasted pork preserved in lard, garnished with pickled vegetables and freshly grated horseradish. According to Tunka.si, the dish in its traditional form is pretty simple to prepare. Separate the meat and lard, and cut the meat into thin slices. Then, spread the lard onto black bread, add a few drops of pumpkin oil, and place a slice of meat on top.
3. Prekmurska gibanica
Saveur also sampled prekmurska gibanica, an elaborate, light cake composed of layers of apple, walnut, and poppy seed fillings. If that sounds like something you have to try, you’re in luck. Saveur published a recipe for this layered strudel cake. The magazine notes the cake is time-consuming to assemble. But the dough and fillings are easy to make and work with. Plus, you can assemble the cake up to two days prior to baking it, which gives you some flexibility.
4. Sunday soup
You don’t have to know Slovenian to understand the name of this delicious beef stew Saveur encountered in Slovenia. (The name “Sunday soup” refers to the long simmering time that’s needed to get all the flavor out of the beef bones.) The soup is composed of a beef broth with liver dumplings, which Saveur explained “were surprisingly light and offered a contrasting prism of beefy tastes.” If that sounds like the perfect recipe for your own Sunday afternoon, check out Saveur’s recipe.
5. Roast goose and mlinci
Saveur also sampled roasted goose served with red cabbage and mlinci, broken noodles made from flatbread. “The cabbage’s tart sweetness was the perfect foil for the roasted bird, and the mlinci absorbed the juices,” according to Saveur. Most of us are probably more used to roasting chickens than geese. But if you want to give it a try, Saveur offers a recipe you can easily accomplish at home. The goose is stuffed with apple and chestnuts and flavored with plum eau-de-vie. It’s served alongside mlinci, which you make from an egg-and-flour dough.
6. Farmers’ cheese
Saveur reports that farmers’ cheese is another traditional Slovenian dish you don’t want to miss. The magazine shares the recipe for this delicious spread, which incorporates onions and pumpkin seed oil. That might sound like a far cry from your usual mild salsa or French onion dip. But the magazine promises that “this creamy Slovenian spread is fantastic spread on toast at brunch or served as a dip with crisp vegetables — like radishes and fennel — at cocktail parties.”
Saveur also tried krpice, a traditional Slovenian pasta dish composed of torn fresh noodles and a sauce of cabbage braised in butter. The publication offers a recipe for the dish, noting that cabbage is a staple vegetable in Slovenia. To make krpice, you’ll wilt the cabbage in bacon fat and then season it with cayenne pepper. Then, you’ll toss it with homemade noodle dough.
Travel + Leisure reports that Slovenia has become one of Europe’s best food destinations. The magazine’s rationale? “To eat in Slovenia is to encounter influences from Italy and Austria, Hungary and Croatia, even Turkey and Russia.” Both chefs and winemakers use “the traditional kitchen as a laboratory to create an evolving but hugely original food culture.” One of the first Slovenian foods the magazine’s writer encountered was jota, a sour turnip soup. Saveur tried a version that included red beans, bacon, potatoes, and sauerkraut. And Slovenia.si shares a recipe that includes beans and pickled turnips.
Travel + Leisure also encountered žganci — cold-smoked buckwheat porridge with sour milk and cracklings — while visiting Slovenia. Slovenia.si reports that žganci is prepared differently in each region of Slovenia, but “the essence of žganci, however, stays the same.” The dish is prepared from buckwheat, corn, wheat, or barley flour. In some regions, cooks even use groats or potatoes to make it. Wheat, grits, cornmeal, and potatoes can be added. The flour is cooked or fried, depending on the region, and the side dishes served with it vary across Slovenia.
10. Idrija žlikrofi
According to Slovenia.si, Idrija žlikrofi are the national dish of Slovenia. Originating in the town of Idrija, they consist of dough with a potato filling. The filling consists of potato, minced lard or smoked bacon, onion, seasoning, and herbs. The dough is then folded into its distinctive “hat” shape. They are then cooked and served with a sauce, such as bakalca, made with mutton or rabbit.
Potica, a distinctive roll cake, is one of the most storied desserts in Slovenian cuisine. The Chicago Tribune reports that traditionally, the dough is stretched until almost transparent. Then, it’s slathered with a walnut-honey filling and rolled into 20 or 30 layers. Cooks across Slovenia use different methods and recipes to make potica. But the Tribune offers a recipe for a classic version you can try at home.