Category Archives: Life Philosophy

Disruption, Are You Rigid?

According to my dear friend Marilyn there are two kinds of people, those who prefer towers and the others which prefer caves, the former observers and the latter shelterers I would add that neither of these can hold off the ‘inconvenience’ of disruption.

The result of our cumulative experiences makes each of us shelter in uniquely different ways. Despite our protests we all have finely defined boxes, sometimes our boxes include massively built walls, which make us comfortable and ‘safe’. Entrenched in our comfort we grow ever less capable of being expansive. Our self-imposed exile of stability restricts our movement as surely as shackles might. Disruption is going to happen so I think it is prudent to recall Dr. Wayne Dyer’s words:

karma jpegBrainyQuotes image.

When we close ourselves off from disruption can be as small as the cap left off the toothpaste, or the toilet seat left up by a new lover, a guest in our home slicing a lemon differently or being a fresh air fanatic living in our homes with the windows thrown open (my hand is raised high here). Disruption after all is unsettling, upsetting, annoying and it is an enormous opportunity for growth.  The irony is, that if asked, those who are the most thoroughly entrenched truly believe that they are functioning in a state of expansive love, generosity and kindness – the truth is only on their terms.

Rigidity is not my friend, or yours. In the two years I spent as a digital nomad I have had ample opportunity to serve as ‘the disruptive force’, and I do mean “serve” in the truest sense of that word.

Lots is made of ‘being agile’ whether an organisation or an individual, embracing change, rather than fighting it, allows the best possible outcome to manifest. And yes, I really do believe that on our spiritual path in attaining at-one-ment with The Universe, or God, having our comfort zone pushed and pulled out of its normal shape is very good for us, necessary even. Disruption forces us to confront what we fear and let it lead us forward, or we can beat a hasty retreat from it returning to what makes us comfortable.

Recently I made a choice to help someone spend more quality time with their elderly parents prior to their departure on a rather long trip, but I needed to establish boundaries around my offer. Those parameters would allow me to be generous with my time and culinary talents but ensure that I didn’t bear an undue financial burden. We are always free to choose, but we are not free from the consequences of our choices. The response to my words came with consequences, disruption to the stability of my life and a hefty financial cost for the individual. Here is where personal responsibility kicks in, but it could be something ‘more’. I fully accept the karma of my choice but I have to wonder if The Universe was really using me as an instrument, or somehow protecting me (yet again). What if my words were meant to as an opportunity to help move this person dramatically away from the entrenched rigidity of their life? (my perception). Their subsequent choice denies their pets my love and companionship and their home security, and they will subsequently incur a cost of €50 a day for eight months while I am denied a measure of stability to write and conduct business. Quel domage.

Rigidity or resilience, how do you deal with disruption?

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

 

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Fear. Less. Giving a F*ck, and not. Shift. Your. Thinking.

I have written lightly about ‘living exponentially’ in my blog post about Walter Mitty – but this post is planningsomething different. Despite there being plenty of perfectly rational things in my life to be concerned about, however naïve or ridiculous of me it might be, I am not a worrier. I really don’t possess fears. I have this un-erring belief that everything will be ‘just fine’. I have friends that I drive absolutely bonkers over this attitude of mine. Why aren’t you worried? What’s your plan? Plan. Plan. Plan. You aren’t REALLY going to write that, are you?? You aren’t really go to send that email are you? Let go of it. I most certainly am, primarily because I care. There are far worse things.

And, like my girlfriend Mary who has experienced much of the same, there are always going to be people who want to ‘fix me’ ‘help me’ or somehow ‘rescue me’ and I am having none of it (neither, thankfully, is she). I dedicate this blog post to Mary, and her journey of self, because we can’t walk in anyone else’s shoes and everything we carry with us is about reconciling our pasts so that our souls can accomplish their objectives for living in this lifetime. I only ask that Light and Love surround her and keep her safe.fear 2

I dislike high places. I have an inner ear ‘thing’ from damage caused by repeated ear infections as a child that gives me a wicked case of vertigo but I am not necessarily afraid of heights. So much of the lens in which we are viewed by the world around us, by our colleagues and our friends, and very often how we view ourselves, is a powerful catalyst for our continued behaviours – whatever they might be. A refrain of my life was repeated (yet again) fairly recently. It’s a huge compliment to be told that someone perceives you as being fearless, and that because of their perception of you they are pushing away the boundaries of their fears, to fear ‘less’; three people expressed the same in a matter of two days. Respect for danger, preparation to face it squarely, has absolutely nothing to do with fear or worry. Fear is a choice. Worry is a choice.

We all have things that we have cognition of but that we (largely) keep hidden; fear of offending, fear Harrellof failure, fear of others thinking us foolish, fear of dangerous situations. These fears are not necessarily bad things but they can be debilitating things. Fear is always having a monkey on your back. Fear keeps us from fully living.

I function best from the realms of authenticity and love. That expressed, I vividly recall my father saying “I don’t care if you like me, as long as you respect me” (generally directed as dinner table conversation about people not in the room). Close friends can attest that as a result of my having been bullied from the 3rd grade onward by boys with the names of Joe and Victor (amongst others) I have honed my fathers’ attitude to I don’t much care if you like me or respect me, please just leave me alone and, if you can’t for some inexplicable reason respect polite boundaries, I assure you that you will simply ‘cease to exist’ (I have found that indifference is the greatest survival skill ever learned). Which is why in reading Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck yesterday I was like, well “Hell Yes!”

Now, most of you who know me in real life know that while I might “think it” and “act it” and “truly don’t” I also VERY RARELY actually use the word. Which is what made my Croatian-American friend Bruce’s “Croatians using Jokerthe word…” tutorial back in late January very funny to me. Evidently if a Croatian says IN CROATIAN F*ck You (or was it ‘off’?) it is actually 100x more offensive than the English use of noun, verb, adjective, expletive F*ck You. Who knew???!! So, TO EVERY ONE I LOVE, and the things I passionately care about (and you witness by not just my words but by my actions) it’s true, it’s true, it’s true – I do not give a F*ck if some unknown dweeb is challenged by my attitude to let it all fall where it should, and TO HELP IT GET THERE faster if need be. Because quite frankly my choosing to care, my giving a F*ck is one of the things I am most proud of about me. So when something is totally F*cked up expect me to do glovesomething and say something and take no prisoners in the process (though it might be a iron fist in a lovely velvet glove making it nearly impossible to distinguish what is actually happening). If that makes you uncomfortable then it is patently clear you will never be worthy of my respect or my giving a F*ck about you or your indifferent little life. I challenge you to CARE about stuff, about life, passionately. No regrets. No ‘what’s in for me’. Don’t try to control everything, or anything – it’s impossible to do so – but show up for life. Truly. Caring about what the wrong people think, SMH. And for someone that is deeply rooted in creating branding and identities this might seem contrary but it seems more reckless to me to be fearful of opinions and perceptions of the great unwashed masses rather than functioning from a position of authenticity and integrity.

Mr. Manson is spot on. Don’t “give your F*cks away” to the wrong people and situations. Don’t worry about the inconsequential – will whatever it is matter tomorrow or the next day? Fear is an extension of giving a F*ck about the wrong things. Shift. Your. Thinking.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Love in the present, and The Velveteen Rabbit

lovers“The present moment is really all that we have. The only place you can really love another person is in the present. Love in the past is a memory. Love in the future is a fantasy. To be really alive, love – or any other experience – must take place in the present.”
— Jack Kornfield­­­

Three months away from my home base in the United States has taught me precisely who will make an effort to maintain connection, the same is true here in Croatia, people I swore would make the time to be part of my experience here have ‘been too busy’, whereas others have delightfully surprised me in the dynamic of friendship (shout out to Ivica, Carmen and Daša).

I genuinely appreciate Jack Kornfield’s words because I have, like so many, at certain times held onto a memory (or established an illusion of parity) as a dynamic experience when I should have let go – long ago. Why? I assure you I am not delusional but as an eternal optimist I 3rd eyesuppose each of these events in my past come down to hope… that if you respect space, focus intention, believe sufficiently in the connection or your actions or messages received through the 3rd Eye, or Heart Chakra to the vibrational energy  given and received then it must be real. Bonnie Raitt had a very popular song as I was going through my divorce in 1991 (Adele’s cover is stunning) I can remember hearing over, and over, and over again while learning to sail that summer to mitigate the pain of loss, to process who I would be next. But it was the husband and wife that I was sailing with for whom it was more resonate – but neither knew the truth of their loss, they held onto the marriage like people cling to part of the helm of their destroyed boat. I never cried about this for myself in hearing the wife play it on the boat’s sound system, but for them – always.

Ah, love. Like living well, treating it as the miracle it is to be elevated and cherished requires the same active engagement as your exercise régime. There cannot be indifference, there cannot be procrastination, to have an intimate relationship (of any kind) means to participate and practice at it – daily, hourly, and sometimes in the space of a breath.  Not because you ‘have to’ but because you recognise that if you don’t you will both loose an essential aspect of yourself and the person who loves you will take to higher ground (or grasses greener on the other side of the fence).

Being RealAnd so, The Velveteen Rabbit and what can be real, even when it isn’t.

When we are most able to be “real” is as Margery Williams nearly a hundred years ago wrote – we are shabby and have loose joints but we are are most beautiful to those who love us, and whom we love.  When we are most real, when we are truly worthy of love, outward appearances matter not.  Five or thirty extra pounds, failed hearing or eyesight, peculiar habits are ignored because the authenticity of loving is sitting right beside us.  When we are real, and not an illusion, we reach for our others, we call, we send postcards above and beyond social media (although how easy that is you would think more people would actually bother to connect in this manner), we engage and make our lives meaningful in the reality found in laughing loudly, hugging tightly, crying softly, sharing life and all the joys and sorrows that accompany our journey.

“Each day is a miracle that intoxicates me. I want more. I greet every morning like a new pleasure.”
Malika Oufkir

More so, I want to share that miracle with you…everyday. When I reach for you – reach back for me.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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I have a lot in common with Goethe

“Nothing is worth more than this day.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

20150123_122044I truly believe there are only two kinds of people – those whose reality check precludes seeing what those whose ‘romanticism’ of the world makes things ‘more’. They are not exactly in conflict but a glaring dose of frustration with one another is easy enough. I fall into the latter category of people. I am a person to whom life’s most basic and wonderful magic happens frequently, unexpectedly and with which I also feel like I am functioning in a state of heightened grace. I am not unrealistic (I don’t think) but it frankly doesn’t occur to me to dwell on the less attractive aspects of our life here on Earth except to try and change things for the better where possible.  This is not about change. This is about small pleasures that people (everywhere, regardless of culture or country) miss.

“A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust: First Part

This afternoon I was in the town of Gospić, Croatia. I will be honest, painfully so, realistically so – 20150123_123402it is a down on the heels small urban area with not much in terms of attractiveness to draw one to it (I can write this being from the Rust Belt). You will have to pass through it to reach Nikola Tesla’s birthplace in nearby Smiljan or to the breathtaking mountains of Velebit with its 1/2 million acres of pristine UNESCO protected wilderness and home of Linden Tree Retreat and Ranch (from where I write this post, the wood fire gently crackling, tea mug beside me holding steaming ginger root tea).  It is not Zadar, or Split, Trogir or Šibenik in terms of ancient decaying prettiness offered by sun-bleached stone from Brac (or is it Hvar?) and crystalline blue, aquamarine and emerald waters of the Adriatic.  Nevertheless I found beauty – just as I often do – because through the lens in which I view the world it is infinitely more pleasant to live in fullness of being, in a state of joy in discovery, of delight over the mundane (to others).

My friends know that I am a freak about open air farmers’ markets (okay and those actually housed with arcades). Today was market day in Gospić; ordinary people selling or buying carrots, beets and sausages, lettuce and eggs, Brussel sprouts and oh, thick naturally coloured wool, hand-knit socks.  I had a short list in mind but not written down – in such an environment shopping is about what looks good, whose smile meets yours, what in taking a long view inspires you to cook as a result of what is offered for sale. Sometimes purchases result from a semi-conscious decision to stretch completely and utterly outside of your comfort zone – that happened to me today. A lovely man wearing perfectly coordinating shades of Loden and olive 20150123_110641green had a roll of made-at-home luncheon meat, the renderings from pig fat, homemade bread and pressed at home apple juice (not cider). I said Dobar dan and he reciprocated and smiled.  He took his knife and sliced off a piece of his bacon fat and offered it to me to try; in Croatia this is the way most people eat this – it is considered a delicacy. Now it would be incredibly rude of me not to accept this despite it being beyond comprehension to consume in the States where I am from.  I do not have a Poker Face – and he burst out laughing, which of course made me laugh at myself and I said “I think it is an acquired taste” which made him laugh harder. He spoke no English but he seemed to understand every word I said. At this point the luncheon roll, which seemed to be some variation on Head Cheese, was being sliced and offered to me. My stomach is having a conversation with my head along the lines of “oh, dear!” but my head is telling my stomach to shut up and just go with the flow despite the lingering taste of bacon fat on my tongue. I confess I enjoy Haggis (am actually lamenting the fact that I am not anywhere near Scottish soil to celebrate Burns Night this year) but it’s only 20150123_110807because I prefer to pretend that I don’t actually know what haggis is made of because on my first tasting I didn’t know and I enjoyed it enormously; when in doubt fall back on such an experience. The truth is that this is likely a one-off; it wasn’t so much about how tasty (or not) it was, or whether the sum of the parts was more appealing than the individual contributions of the various parts of the pig that went into it, for me it was the experience of sharing what this man had made, and his clear desire to be in this moment with me. So for 20 kuna ($2.92 USD / 2.60 Euro) I bought a piece about ½” thick and he gave me the end of the loaf of bread he was offering for sampling, and something my erstwhile, globe-trotting, Scottish chalet mate Calum thought disgusting when he tasted it, a handful of what remains when pig fat is rendered. I will have this for lunch tomorrow. I will enjoy it “for the experience of it” and I will be happy with the memory shared with this lovely man.

I also bought some sausages that my chalet mate Calum had requested I pick up – a kilo 20150123_110159requiring a couple of extra links added to the scale, mirth and another couple of photos.  But by far the purchase that will stay with me the longest, serving to remind me of this most pleasant hour and a half of my life, is a new pair of ridiculously soft, thick, hand-knit, wool socks. I forgot to take 20150123_161600a picture of the woman that sold them to me (she also knit them) so I went back – to both of our delight, and hugs and Croatian kisses goodbye.

Who is richer? The realist or the romantic? Goethe wrote a lot of truly wonderful things – but I end with these words:

“If you’ve never eaten while crying you don’t know what life tastes like.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

If you enjoy my blog please consider sending me the value of a cup of tea in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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So much more than… bread

For people that know ‘what goes on in my kitchen’ the fact that I had never made bread from scratch before coming to Croatia might come as a bit of a surprise. But in the 74 days I have been here I have taught myself how-to one-double-rising-round-loaf at a time with yeast cakes, 20141208_100938honey or crystalised brown sugar, pink Tibetan sea salt, millet, golden flaxseed, dark chia seeds, hemp hearts, stone ground, organic rye and whole wheat flours and a bit of conventional white flour by hand.  Some loaves are better than others. I was recently taught that it takes a ratio of two yeast cakes to every kilo of dry weight – but without a scale this remains elusive and, thus, the reason why though tasty I often don’t get much rise as the millet and other seeds are disproportionately heavy.

Making bread is elemental. It is an exercise in patience. It is 20150121_162508something I never imagined I would enjoy doing. It is all this and more. The bread has become an extension of my life philosophy that what comes from my hand in the kitchen is to offer a hug for the insides. What I absolutely love is the response to this bread… the eye closing 20150121_162454inhalation of the scent accompanied by a beatific smile, the unbridled sighs of contentment which issue forth from the tasters of my efforts, the epic praise that comes from the loaf disappearing in one sitting of a meal (if I want some for my brunch I must set aside my portion so that I can slather fig or apricot preserves on toasted slices to accompany farm fresh eggs, thick, flavourful Croatian bacon, tea and lemonade made from organic Dalmatian lemons).

As an American here to determine if this could be the right thing for me as a permanent relocation there is so much I am utterly clueless about – this is good (it challenges me to adapt, to be more sensitive, to listen more acutely) and bad (faux pas are inevitable, but learning to express Molim te and Oprosti, pardon me and sorry, and genuinely meaning it helps). In the United States I rarely eat bread – largely because of additives, sugars, and the carbohydrates I don’t need or crave.  Culturally, I didn’t understand 20150121_174838what bread meant in Croatia – believe me, it’s not just bread. Perhaps it is a cellular level lack of awareness (I am trying desperately to overcome) resulting from being born in a country that hasn’t experienced war on its soil in more than a 150 years, a country whose population represents a mere 5% of the worlds’ yet creates more than half of all global waste, a country where a single American will consumes 53 times more goods and services than someone in China, a country disconnected from ourselves as individuals and those we supposedly care for because we are always too busy to be deliberate in our thoughts and actions. This is why I am very consciously here in Croatia, to continue to strip away the superfluous, to be humbled, to expand, to be genuinely grateful for and to live with much less.

20150122_092109

View this morning from the porch of the Dancing Moon Chalet at Linden Tree Retreat & Ranch – Velika Plana, Croatia

I learned the cultural nuance of bread from the tender explanation offered by Megi Yerkovich at Linden Tree Retreat & Ranch a couple mornings’ after arriving here two weeks ago. I had made a loaf of ‘my bread’ to share which we had enjoyed with dinner the night before. Independent of that loaf, Megi explained that across the Balkan region (she is Bosnian) hospitality comes down to two critical points, no matter how little you might have you must have an extra cup in the house to share tea or coffee with a visitor and to have bread to offer them; “Therefore eat of what Allāh has given you, lawful and good (things), and give thanks for Allāh’s favor if Him do you serve” (Qu’ran 016.114) and the lesson of the Widow’s Mite (Gospels of Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4) as each possible kind of nourishment.  My eyes filled with tears at the acknowledgment that, once again, the universe chose to guide me to the precise place and time to offer me knowledge that would expand who I am – in this human life.

I am happy to share the slice I set aside for myself and make you a cup of ginger root tea, come 20150122_123712sit with me and tell me who you are, what you hope for, enjoy what I have to offer – it is yours. Namaste.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Unconditional love, be part of the stars

Sometimes writing feels like a moral imperative. It wakes you in the middle of the night. Beckons you from sleep, and your dreams, to rise, dress and pull a ‘blank sheet of paper’ from vibrational energyyour computer and capture the ephemeral. I am in that state now. You could argue this makes no sense – couldn’t it wait until the morning? Technically it is morning, it’s 2AM as I start this. I was soundly, peacefully asleep after two nights of dousing rains, lightning and thunder; the unique acoustics of the Adriatic and the surrounding islands and mainland of this peninsula of Croatia where I am living terrorizing me and playing my vibrational energy like a drumbeat. Everything has a reason.

With the differences in time zones between where I am, and where I am from, there is a duality to my existence at present – frustrating though it might be at times. To date I realise that I am neither fully here emotionally and spiritually, nor am I physically there. Resolution, I think, of this conflict inexplicably came at 1:35 AM in ‘just for a moment’ turning on my phone to check messages and Facebook in the place I left behind. Two things stood out in my newsfeed. First my friend Amy’s quoting Wayne Dyer:

“The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.”

I won’t even comment but leave you to consider how frequently our egos get in the way of truly understanding the full spectrum of information and interactions with other people we encounter each day.

The second was a blog posting, the blog being used by its author, Don Shapiro, to frame his forthcoming book entitled Life Is a Fork in The Road. There’s a lot to take away from this piece I ‘woke to’ and might have missed (had I not done as bidden) as I do not stalk my friends online presence. I highly encourage not only a thorough read but for you to bookmark the page and come back to it because what Shapiro writes of, unconditional love, is important to everyone.

“True unconditional love is not a choice.”

Shapiro’s story is one I have lived – the one “released” and the one releasing. My love remains unconditional for both men. I know the truth of this writing and the bitter-sweetness of knowing that these loves (and all our human life connections) are impermanent. Here’s something else I just realised in the middle of the night – both men have been ‘body guards’ to me. They have protected my physical being as well as my energetic one. Their connection to me, and mine to them, allows me (still) to ascend to my fullest potential. You MUST release attachments, you must grieve, but the truest path to our own heightened soul comes from embracing the gift of love as it touches us and as we gift it. Over, and over, and over again I am monsieur-ibrahimreminded of the charming French film starring Omar Sharif as Monsieur Ibrahim (from the French play Mr. Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran written by Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt) and Pierre Boulanger; not the least is the life lesson Sharif’s character imparts to his protégé played by Boulanger about the value of loving being a gift you give yourself whether or not the other person accepts that love. Our vibrational energy must be higher than our ego, our being must at least attempt to attain awareness beyond our physical wants so that we elevate in the state of loving – in spite of pain, in spite of human desire – that is unconditional.

Convegno by Antonio Ambrogio Alciati, 1918

And when, by the mere chance that the universe conspires to provide a connection so powerful energetically between yourself and another that you would travel to the ends of the Earth to test the connection, the reality of it, physically then you must also do this. You must explore and define the ‘star crossed’ aspect of such energy, take and give to it liberally and with every fiber of your being and then gift it back. Treasure what remains.  As human beings it is all too easy to cling desperately to the idea that we can alter the predestination of certain elements of our lives. We (as I am most likely to express) “hold the bouquet of flowers too tightly” and it withers and dies as result. To ‘love’ in such an environment is not love, it is fear. Love cannot flourish in the space where fear reigns. Love, the highest form, the universal love from which we are created, which we will return to when our physical being is no longer capable of sustaining (or containing) our souls, needs room – lots of it. When you connect energetically to another human being their presence in the same room isn’t necessary – although it is preferable from a human desire perspective to be sure. Our energetic connections are something truly magical. They transcend our limited physical existence and allow us, if only briefly, to reconnect with something higher than either party involved. We can give and receive pleasure as if the person were in the same room with us, even before we ever experience meeting them. And when we release, or are released, that universal love is part of us, it never dies, it goes on and on without the physical connection. It can nourish and sustain us, as well as provide for the other when you remain attuned to them.

Be part of the stars. Love as one ever-expanding cosmic force and do so without hesitation, light withinwithout encumbrance or tether, oh, do love unconditionally.
Namaste.

If you enjoy my blog please consider sending me the price of a cup of tea in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Lunch in Dalmatia “triumph of simplicity”

Let me just say I was not being a tenant, I was being a neighbour. I had made ratatouille (mitigating my normal level of spices our of respect for my landlords tastebuds) and brought down a quart for them. I was invited for lunch an hour later.

Lunch in Dalmatia is a vastly different thing than it is in, say, New York City. First everyone enjoys the same leisurely pace as “the 1%” but the cost for an extraordinary meal with good wine and great conversation is different, it is democratic in its accessibility.  No matter how fresh what is on your plate in Manhattan might be the lettuces weren’t picked an hour before a simple dressing of vinegar and the sublime extra virgin olive oil is applied, and it would be safe bet that it wasn’t swimming in the clear grilled fishaquamarine waters of the Adriatic literally less than two hours previous.

And contrary to the Dalmatian concept of pòmalo, at Ivanka’s table lunch is served when she says it is going to be.  Let’s talk about the fish. Slightly larger than a rainbow trout but based upon the taste I would say sea bass. Cleaned and gutted, drenched in a lemon juice and Extra Virgin Olive (EVO) oil and then grilled, whole, outside over olive wood cuttings. I took an extra measure of a 1/2 of a lemon to drizzle over my fish (each of us with one gorgeous specimen on our plate).  Then like a child I was patiently guided on how to use my fingers to remove the dorsal fin and bones, to suck gently on the head to remove the yumminess (I drew the line at eating the eyeballs staring back at me). The last time I ate with my fingers with such dedicated passion was over a plate of awaze tibsbeef Awaze Tibs in 1999 in a ground level Ethiopian restaurant in a section of Boston’s Massachusetts Avenue that fell, like so much, to gentrification.  Bit by delicious bit I left the cleanest plate I have ever left for any meal, ANYWHERE. I paced myself because each mouthful was heaven. I was thoroughly committed to making it like Tantric sex, only eating. The crispy skin, the oil and lemon infused deep within the DSCN9895moist flesh of the grilled fish itself.  In New York this would have had a $60 tab plus taxes and tip. Here the fish was 8 kuna per kilo (yes, $1.30). While I have always been a ‘foodie’ you will want to cry (I did mist up) over the absolute perfection of it should be so lucky to have someone prepare such for you. Anthony Bourdain missed something amazing on his trip to Croatia because (having watched the episode twice) I KNOW that this particular bounty did not pass his lips.  Truly Dalmatian cuisine is, as you will hopefully hear in watching this episode, a “triumph of simplicity”.

Marko’s family, like so many Dalmatians, have been here since  before the Ottoman Turks occupied in 1540. His legacy, the connection to the land, also includes skills at wine making that would be enviable (and medal winning) at wine competitions. I must also offer than given the addition of sulfates to most commercial red wines (offered in the United States) I can no longer drink them because I will wake in the middle of the night with painful leg cramps – Marko’s wine poses no such issue and is astonishing in its body and on the palette.

We don’t share language per se. Some German, some English and on my part some Croatian and yummy noises. In the two weeks I have been here there is usually someone who speaks English to help convey my thoughts and emotions – we went without that benefit over this meal. And what happened was magical. BECAUSE WE WANT TO UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER. Because we are trying to discuss food, and life, and wine and what is authentic. Because over a shared meal, regardless of where we are from we are all the same.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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