Slovenia moves to protect its hit cake

Ljubljana, 25 May - Potica, the traditional Slovenian dessert that has become a global hit after Pope Francis mentioned it during small talk with the US first lady, is soon to be protected. While its production will not be geographically restricted, special rules are to apply regarding its recipe, process of making and ingredients.

Potica, the traditional Slovenian dessert.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Little known outside Slovenia, the dessert became the buzz word of global media such as the Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Guardian, New York Times, Independent and the Time, after its mention by the pope gave journalists food for thought.

The pope made a joke about US President Donald Trump's physique when greeting his wife Melania at an audience on Wednesday, by asking her whether she fed him potica.

This, however, caused quite a confusion with the global media, as the interpreters and later journalists mistook the traditional Slovenian dessert (pronounced as "po-teet-sah") for pizza.

Subsequently, the Washington Post wrote potica was the "nut bread we all want to try now" and published its recipe on its web site, while the Guardian revealed some interesting facts about its history.

"The cake was first mentioned by Primož Trubar, a Lutheran priest who published the first books in the Slovenian language in the 16th century. It is considered an important part of Slovenian heritage and has twice featured on the country's postage stamps," the paper wrote.

The Huffington Post and the People magazine listed walnuts, hazelnuts, poppy seeds, estragon, chocolate and honey as the possible fillings of potica.

But any confusion as to what constitutes the genuine Slovenian traditional speciality many soon be over as the Slovenian Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry and the Chamber of Small Business have recently joined forces to initiate the process for protecting the original recipe.

Given the many versions of the dessert, the two chambers first had to decide on the optimal recipe, which was picked after a series of testing.

The list of possible fillings was also agreed on. It includes walnuts, walnuts with raisins, rains, estragon, and estragon with the traditional skuta cheese. Producers from eastern Slovenia recently proposed poppy seeds to be added to the list.

The process of protecting the dish is yet to be initiated at the Agriculture, Food and Forestry Ministry and the proposal must then be approved by the EU.

But once protected, only certified products will be able to carry the name of Slovenska potica.

Slovenian dishes protected at the EU level so far include the idrijski žlikrofi dumplings, prekmurska gibanica pastry and belokranjska pogača bread.

© STA, 2017