By: | Post date: March 29, 2009 | Comments: 4 Comments
Posted in categories: Personal

I had a highly Croatian day yesterday (visit chez Nick of my friend Marija cum familiā; visit of Nick chez Andy and Reena cum familiā). At the end of the day, I had a dwarf lime tree, to complement the dwarf orange tree and compact lemon tree; and I had a bottle of Orahovac, to complement the duty free Laphroaig and Baileys.

Mm, Orahovac. It’s not gueuze (mm, gueuze), the vindication of all Belgic lambics. This is West Balkan walnut liqueur: dunk some green walnuts in some rakija (grappa, if that helps), leave in a summer window in Dalmatia for several months, and savour the woody syrupy goodness.

I’d had a shot glass of it at Hrvatski Dom, Footscray with my third Croatian friend Tim; it formed a trio of on-the-house welcomings together with paint stripper (er, Slivovitz, plum brandy) and cough syrup (er, Kruškovac, pear brandy). I fell in love—not least because it was neither of the above; and as lovers often do, I embarked on a quest, through the wilds of Dandenong (which has a large number of Croats, Serbs, and Bosnians), to find a supply of the golden walnutty nectar. The search proved fruitless, though it did generate what was my unupdated Facebook status message for the next several months. I complained about this strategically to Reena next time I saw her—and it paid off: now, from Boccacio Cellars, Balwyn to my humble abode, I have an added source of solace.

The taste was already familiar to me, because Greeks make walnut preserves, as one of their long suite of “spoon sweets”: take any edible fruit (and a few things that are neither—such as walnuts), and turn into a sickly sweet preserve that you can only ever consume one spoonful of at a time.

When I described Orahovac to my mother this morning, she reported that people in her village did the same with sour cherries and brandy. Odd that I’d never heard of it; I know of vissinadha (βυσσινάδα), sour cherry cordial, but not that there was a Greek version of crème de cassis. (Hercule Poirot’s favourite drink? He can have it: it’s closer to Kruškovac than Orahovac in my book.)

(Mm, Orahovac.)


  • opoudjis says:

    @Nakku: alternatively, I shall summon *you*. That would involve a perilous trip South Of The River, I know..

  • Nakku says:

    It sounds tasty. One day I will summon you and you shall supply me with some.

  • opoudjis says:

    Mon vieux, as one can quickly ascertain by looking around a High Street in contemporary Britain (or Australia), the Brit (and cultural Brit) is the first to admit that their food could do with enhancements from abroad. Their plonk, they’re a bit more reluctant on, so that becomes a class divide; but the cultural Brit is happily multiculti when it comes to what goes into their mouth, at least.

    Roman nut? (Goes to wikipedia.) Ah, I see:

    The word walnut derives from Old English wealhhnutu, literally “foreign nut”, wealh meaning “foreign” (wealh is akin to the terms Welsh and Vlach; see *Walha and History of the term Vlach). The walnut was so called because it was introduced from Gaul and Italy. The previous Latin name for the walnut was nux Gallica, “Gallic nut”.

    Vlach nut! Cool. You know, some things that arrived with the Romans 2000 years ago, Brits are used to by now. 🙂 I admit, wine may not be one of those things…

    I’m not responding to every comment you make, btw :-)—but the Dante quote makes me think perhaps Dante was actually a poet, and not just a Guelph polemicist. (Ooh, I know that always get reactions…)

    alksty? Not an alcoholic’s sty?

  • John Cowan says:

    How anyone who claims to be “culturally British” (gonna hear a lot of that phrase from now on) can willingly consume the Romans’ Nut, even when pickled (that would be you or the nut or both, it matters not), is beyond my comprehension.

    (I myself love ’em.)

    Fitting CAPTCHA: alksty, evidently a portmanteau of alky and angsty.

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