The other weekend we spent a very pleasant afternoon in the company of a Happy Machine (a Bosnian still for making plum brandy for the uninitiated amongst you). It was rather late in the year as everyone felt a little guilty about making very strong alcohol during Ramadan, but no one seemed to be having too much guilt about drinking large quantities of the stuff immediately afterwards.
The men sat around stirring the plums, sterilizing the machine, bringing it all to the boil, watching it condense down, measuring the alcohol content with a whizzy little gadget that floats in the liquor and tasting it all to make sure it was all ok. We could see which the most important aspect of the process was judging by the amount of time spent tasting the output. The rest of us ate large quantities of food, the kids ran riot outside and life was good.
This brewing of the sljiva is an integral part of Bosnian culture (Muslims many of them may be, teetotal Muslims they are not). It is one of the autumnal rituals. The rumours that are running rife that the EU would ban the Happy Machines (bah humbug to the miserable fun stealing Brussels bureaucrats) are seriously testing Bosnians desire to join the Europe. I think most sane countries have banned the stills years ago, but this doesn't appear to deter the Bosnians. Apparently those who have emigrated to other European countries still manage to get their fix, just making sure the brewing happens indoors behind drawn curtains.
Dave loves this part of being in Bosnia. He looks forward to a Happy Machine afternoon, even though he doesn't really like the end result. I hadn't really paid much attention to this interest, right up the point I discovered him in the supermarket supposedly shopping for milk and cheese gazing covetously at and seriously considering buying a brand new still. A snip at only 2,400KM (1,200Euros).
Happily we remain Happy Machine-less after some fast talking on my part and a reality check on the state of our bank account on his. May we go to many more afternoons where the brandy is brewed, but I'm not Bosnian enough to want it happening in my garage.
If you've had enough sljiva and are feeling brave enough, then make straight for the brilliant Hot Cross Mum's Halloween Best of British Mummy Blogging Carnival