And so the great logistical exercise that is the CLS summer school reaches its final day. The general feeling seems to be that Linda has surpassed herself once again and this year, with a larger group than ever, we have had the pleasure of getting to know her fellow teacher and colleague Zoran, who joined us to share her load. Let’s hope the feeling was mutual – he did seem to still be smiling when he took his leave after the final class was over. As ever trying to come to grips with all the twists and turns of the Croatian language has been a challenge and I daresay it always will be but we have had great fun along the way – and, if anything has been achieved during the week, we certainly all now know our onions!
Our final evening saw us all assembled on Fažana’s waterfront for a demonstration of sardine salting by a local sardine-salting maestro. Apparently they have competitions in this activity round here and there is definitely an art to it, of which our maestro gave us a virtuoso performance. He painstakingly transferred several kilos of fresh sardines from a bowl into a specially-lined round tin, carefully arranging each layer in a kind of herring-bone – or perhaps in this case we should say sardine-bone – pattern, interspersing each layer with a good handful of sea salt and then carefully compressing them with a specially made lid to make sure that the fish strata remained level and the maximum number of sardines could be accommodated in the can. After a night in the fridge, the whole edifice would have settled a bit anyway and so he would be able to top up with more fish in the morning. By this method the fish can be preserved for a long time, thus obviating the need for canning, which it presumably predates anyway.
After the demonstration, our meal on the port square consisted of….you guessed it, sardines and very delicious it was too. Sardine fritters, sardine balls, sardines with onions (how many we didn’t even bother to ask!), sardines with polenta and just plain sardines to name but a few of the ways in which they were presented. Washed down with local wine and beer, it was again a very convivial occasion and we all took our leave expressing the intention that we would meet up again next June, where plans are already taking shape for the next CLS summer school on the Elafiti Islands near Dubrovnik.
We owe a massive thank you to Linda for all of her dedication and hard work in planning and making this hugely enjoyable week a reality, not to mention for all of her patience throughout the course both in and outside of lessons. Also to Zoran for conducting his classes with such good humour and making them so interesting, which was no mean feat given that he was confronted with a sea of largely new faces and personalities, whom he had to attempt to teach while they happily mangled his beautiful mother tongue. Thank you also so much to Ljerka for making our trips so fascinating and enjoyable and for her endless infectious enthusiasm and to Davor from getting us from A to B and back again safely and always with a smile. And we should also not forget to mention Melita Peroković and her team at the Fažana branch of the Croatian National Tourist Board for all their support and assistance in the execution of this project. What a wonderful week!