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Baka is not just the word for a grandmother in Croatian. Baka is an institution in any language. But if you are lucky enough to have a Baka in Croatia, you must have learned by now that no matter how much food you’ve had, it’s never enough! Can you even imagine your Baka NOT asking you if you’re hungry?!
Lesson 1: You Can Never Have Enough Food
Jesi gladan (masculine) / gladna (feminine)? – Are you hungry?
Nisam. – I am not.
Jesam. – I am.
Noone ever has managed to convince their Croatian grandmother that they weren’t hungry, so good luck with that! As my grandmother once told me when she offered me some food for half an hour after an abundant lunch…
Nisi ni sit (masculine) / Nisi ni sita (feminine)! – You’re not full, either!
Of course, while you’re actually enjoying some of the delicious Croatian food, you will be asked to have some more… repeatedly.
Uzmi još! – Have some more!
Ne mogu više, hvala. – I can’t have anymore, thanks.
Može još malo! – I’ll have some more!
Before we continue to the lessons, if you want to learn Croatian for real, check out our teacher’s site below.
Lesson 2: There Is No Such Thing As Too Much Food Talk
Baka will always prepare some delicacies to greet her loved ones, especially when they come from afar. Do not disappoint her by not paying her culinary skills proper attention.
Bako, fritule su ti odlične! – Grandma, these fritule of yours are excellent!
TIP: Fritule are traditional Croatian food – fried dough, usually containing raisins, similar to doughnuts. Fritule are traditionally prepared around Christmas and Easter holidays. Do not miss out on them if you happen to be around in Croatia around Christmas time – you can find them in Christmas markets, which have been quite popular pretty much everywhere in Croatia lately, or you can make them like this at home.
Koji je ovo kolač? Jako je ukusan! – What cake is this? It’s delicious!
Kako pripremaš ribu? – How do you prepare fish?
Je li ovo vino na stolu domaće? – Is this wine on the table homemade?
Hoćeš li mi dati recept za orahnjaču / makovnjaču? – Will you give me the recipe for orahnjača / makovnjača?
TIP: Orahnjača and makovnjača – other traditional Croatian food that is best when it comes from your grandma’s kitchen. These are rolls filled with walnut (orah) or poppy seed (mak) filling. Grandma knows best how to roll it. Ask your grandma about the tricks on how to make it so tasty and make her happy with your interest in preserving the family tradition.
Lesson 3: Family Talk
After you’ve stuffed your belly with your grandma’s specialties, it is time for some family talk. Make your grandma happy by asking her about her health.
Bako, kako si? Kako zdravlje? – Grandma, how are you? How’s your health?
Kako je teta Marija? – How’s aunt Marija?
Kako provodiš dane? – How do you spend your days?
Jesi li gledala omiljenu seriju? – Did you watch your favorite soap opera?
Posjećuju li te unuci? – Do your grandchildren visit you?
Lesson 4: Propuh Is Your Enemy
So, you like to keep your place cooled and refreshed by some natural-type of breeze coming in from an open window? Forget it. In Croatia, propuh (light breeze streaming through when you leave the windows open) is the source of all health issues, from flu to headache or, say, arthritis. Your Baka knows best!
Nemoj stajati na propuhu! – Don’t stand on propuh!
Razboljet ćeš se na propuhu! – You’ll get sick on propuh!
Zatvori prozor! – Close the window!
Obuci nešto toplije, prehladit ćeš se! – Put on something warmer; you’ll catch a cold!
Lesson 5: What Do You Mean You Do Don’t Have A Girlfriend / A Boyfriend?
If you happen to be single, your baka is, naturally, worried that something is wrong with you. Understand her; she just wants more children to try her pies, strudels, and other specialties. And always remember: nobody loves like a baka does!
Imaš li curu (djevoku) / Imaš li dečka (momka)? – Do you have a girlfriend / a boyfriend?
Imam. – I have.
Nemam. – I don’t have.
Zašto nemaš curu (djevoku) / dečka (momka)? – Why don’t you have a girlfriend / a boyfriend?
Kada ćeš se oženiti (if you’re a man) / udati (if you’re a girl)? – When will you get married?
Kad ćeš imati djecu? – When will you have kids?
And Baka’s all-time favorite…
Što čekaš?! – What are you waiting for?!
Now you are ready to speak Croatian with Baka like a pro!
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