Just up the road from the house where I watched the Koline (the ritual conversion of one big fat pig into many big fat meals—more on that later!), is a little museum honoring the old ways of Slovenia. It’s simply a house that’s been converted, with a variety of traditional accoutrements, into a testament of the way things were. There’s an album of old photographs in the bedroom, which houses a surprisingly short and narrow bed with the probably necessary inclusion of a raised edge so as you can’t roll off the bed onto the cold stone floor in the middle of the stone cold night. The windows are small, designed to allow a maximum of heat retention, with the obvious disadvantage of allowing a minimum of natural light insertion. Oil candles and old paintings adorn the walls.
The kitchen features a wood burning stove, which is still commonly found in older homes today—but now in conjunction with a modern gas or electric oven. The heat from the fire warms the stove-top, the ovens and the room. Temperature control is limited by sluices that guide the heat to each segment, and by simply knowing your cooking surface—knowing the cold from the hot spots, so you slide the pan around the stove-top as you need more or less heat. The kitchen table featured an interesting addition I think would be welcome in most comes today—a deep “drawer” that was meant for the baby to lay in. Imagine that… you go into the kitchen to prepare dinner, pull out the kitchen drawer and plop the little tyke in. Brilliant!
The dining room had a common wooden table and chairs, with place settings of metal bowls, and candles for light. In the corner, as was common in every dining room, a large flower-adorned crucifix overseeing the family activities.
The largest room in this house (although in a working home, it would be in a different building), was the wine-making room. A massive wine press dominated the room, centered in a huge stone vat (well over 10x10 feet in dimension) and a two-story tall screw carefully carved from the trunk of a single tree with a monstrous counterbalance stone on its end that would have been slowly twisted, lowering the weight of an even more massive beam of wood on top of the vat of grapes. Today this is handled by modern machinery, but back in the day the display of ingenuity to crush mass quantities of grapes was more than impressive. It beats having all your friends over to jump up and down barefoot in a tub of grapes to crush them down as I saw in Spain twenty years ago—although perhaps not quite as much fun.