Last Sunday we were supposed to go to a neighboring village to see one of their pigs get slaughtered. It's a village with mixed ethniticies, but all the volunteers are living with ethnic Macedonians, and their lifestyle is a bit different from ours. The volunteer who lives at the house where the pig was to be killed texted us about an hour before the event - instead of slaughtering the pig at the appointed time, we were going to have rychek - or lunch - and the pig had already bitten the dust. We arrived to fresh pork grilling on the brazier, cooking in the house, and a feast prepared. Ethnic Macedonians, especially those in the country, all make their own wine and rakija, the native drink. To make rakija, you distill your home-made wine a few times until the alcohol content reaches 50% (100 proof). They use rakija for most everything - medicine, bathing the body for fever, for wounds, and they are likely to drink it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, before you leap to any conclusions, it is really a no-no to be drunk here. They always serve food with rakija and expect you to monitor your intake. Anyway, back to our feast.
The host family set up the table and after first serving us cok(prounounced soak), which is any kind of soda or juice, gave us all rakija and set out grilled pork, sauteed pork, pork liver, cole slaw, pickled veggies, bread, and I'm sure some other things. Since we eat very little meat at my house (and certainly no pork) the meat tasted sooooo good. We were also poured big glasses of their home-made wine. On a tour afterwards, I was shown their store houses where they have all their winter vegetables and probably 10-12 big casks of wine - some of which they're going to distill soon. We sat and talked and ate for about 5 hours. After the main meal, the wine keep flowing and cookies or other treats would magically appear. They grind their own flour and grow feed for their animals as well as everything else they might need, so they're pretty self sufficient. And I must say, they are very gracious hosts. One son spoke English that he had learned from TV and movies, and they taught us words in Macedonian as well as just chatting with us. Macedonians pride themselves as being terrific hosts, and I can attest that they live up to that billing.