If Altman were Croatian

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Last time that we visited, I hardly saw Zagreb: we went directly from the airport to the bus station and on to Osijek on the way in, then came back the night before we flew out and spent the evening with friends. This time, however, we lingered for 5 days, and knowing what a crappy tour guide that Damir is, I bought the Frommer’s guide to Croatia and dragged him around to all the sights.

Mirna, Silvana (hidden), Tanja, Damir, Sandy, Mirko, CrniDamir went to university in Zagreb, then worked there afterwards until he left for Canada, about 13 years in all, leaving a number of friends still there. We spent our time there meeting up with his friends at different times: lunch, dinner, afternoon coffee and cake, whatever. On one of our last days there, we hosted dinner at a restaurant for a group of 9 or 10. Although all but one of the guests spoke some amount of English, most of the conversation was in Croatian (which I don’t speak or understand); I sat between a couple of people who were quite comfortable carrying on conversation in English so I didn’t lack for someone to talk with.

One thing that struck me was that when we were served our meals, every single plate was a pork dish of some sort — roast, boiled, schnitzeled. Pork is definitely a staple there, and I think that it was placed in front of me at least once a day for the entire time that we spent in Croatia.

Listening to the conversation amongst this group of friends, most of whom had worked or attended university together at some point, and some of who hadn’t seen each other in several years, I was struck by the overlapping boisterous conversations that flowed around the table. If the recently departed Robert Altman had made a film in Croatian, this is what it would have sounded like.

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