Friday, 14 August 2009

Moonshine machines

September is fast approaching, and around here that means the plums are ready to fall off the trees and the time to make the local rakija is upon us. Slivovica (or plum brandy to the uninitiated) is part of the staple diet of Bosnians, coming out at any gathering or event. You can buy it in shops, but that is shunned in favour of the homemade stuff. The making of it is an event in itself, lots of people get together to eat and drink and look forward to drinking the rest of the gallons of it throughout the year. We, the unBosnian Brits, might get through a litre in the year (and secretly use most of the stuff we've been given to get the ticks off the dog). The Bosnian party could get through that in a night.

We were chatting with some friends the other night, arranging our annual sliva fix. The men were animated, discussing the best way to ensure the purest brew. Dave offered to bring along his homebrew ale, but they waved it away - a kit? you just add water? It is like orange squash! - it appears they are only interested if he was to be picking the hops himself. Dave retreated to lick his wounded manly pride, muttering darkly about the difficulties of the art of homebrew.

Anyhow, during the course of the conversation we discovered what the Bosnian word for the still, the moonshine maker, the contraption that permits them to make the brandy is. Literally translated it means Happy Machine.

Genius.

13 comments:

Muddling Along Mummy said...

I love that, happy juice coming from a happy machine (and hopefully its nicer than the homebrewed ale ...)

Laura said...

My parents have 4 or 5 litres of Slivovica (made by our Croatian relatives) at the back of their drinks cabinet in the UK. None of us like it, and we have no idea what to do with it (shame they don't have a dog - that's the first non-drinking use I've ever heard of for it). Every Christmas we get some out and try a tiny nip, just to make sure we still don't like it, and that it's as blow-your-head-off powerful as we remember. I love that it's made by a "hapy machine"!

ck said...

Happy Machine, I love it!

I know I've mentioned it before, but I really enjoy reading your blog. Especially for little tidbits like this.

Metropolitan Mum said...

Brilliant. What a cheery weekend post. xx MM

Patrick said...

Zdravo FM! You're quite right about the sljivovica! Not long among, two Bosnians and I were in a restaurant in New York whose dessert menu included "Prava Bosanska Sljivovica" among the digestifs. We all agreed that for such a description to be correct, they would have to serve homebrew from a big plastic soda bottle. (Sadly, the restaurant had run out of the sljivo, so we had to settle for something less memorable.)

I must tell you that your blog is terrific! Thanks for offering a glimpse of the real Bosnia – the friendly, beautiful, comically eccentric Bosnia – that differs so greatly from the dated, negative images that have lingered too long in the popular imagination.

The wife of bold said...

Sounds rather complex to me... just buy it and pass it off as your own!

Mwa said...

Genius name.

My mother's aunts used to make their own cherry brandy, and my parents did, too. One aunt used to "not drink". She only ate the cherries but got very giggly in the process.

Maternal Tales said...

Love it - can't say I'd be tempted to make my own homebrew though - am far too lazy and have only heard bad stories about it. Let us know what the results are like this time! x

goonerjamie said...

I am going to look for my own 'Happy Machine', will start making room for it in the shed, excellent.

owen said...

How could you use it on the dog? The idea brings tears to the eyes.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

MAM - the home brew isn't bad, but it doesn't come from a happy machine!

Laura - it really does blow your head off. I have to say that I'm with you. Keep it at the back of the drinks cabinet. Dave does occasinally put it into pancake mixture...

ck - thanks! I always think the tidbits make the colour of the country.

MM - got to have a bit of cheerfulness at the weekend.

Patrick - I knew I spelt sljiva wrong, it wasn't looking right. And obviously as all our stuff is in plastic soda bottles I couldn't double check easily. Glad you enjoy the blog!

WoB - I don't get involved in the making of the alcohol, just the sampling of it later!


Mwa - they do occasionally bring out the cherry drink too, which I much prefer and get a bit giggly too.

MT - at least we have a garage. When we were in the UK he used to do it in the bathroom and the smell would linger for DAYS.

GJ - every household should have one.

owen - ah, a true Bosniaphile. The ticks don't like it, makes them easier to get off. We love Bosnia, but just haven't yet developed the taste for the national drink!

Insomniac Mummy said...

Happy machine....fab!

Would me more like hangover machine in my case ;).

nixdminx said...

I could do with one of those. We always used to have Yugoslavian Plum Brandy in our house as my Dad had a business associate who would visit us regularly and bring Zvonko Bogdan records...peculiarly both unpopular in the Uk for some reason x