About Lana

 

I learned how to read when I was four (the first born, precocious, perfectionist, most inquisitive-read:annoying-child). My fascination with words took me on a path of writing. I didn’t choose the path; it chose me. Once the snowball started on its trek downhill, nothing could stop it. I didn’t want the exposure – I was a very shy kid. But I was always the one “elected” to write a report on a field trip for the school newspaper. They always chose me to compose and deliver a speech for holidays and visiting dignitaries. I once had to write a eulogy for a lesser city official I did not know; when I read it, with the quivering voice of a twelve year old, everybody present, including me, cried.  Words could be powerful.

In seventh grade I won a state essay competition and received a beautiful set of books for young adults. When I was a sophomore in high school, my essay won in a contest sponsored by government and army. I went to the capital city of Belgrade to receive my reward after a cocktail hour with the mayor and some high-ranking government and military types (and no, I did not indulge – even in Serbia, fifteen is a bit early!). My prize was a hard-cover set books of one of our best writers, Mesa Selimovic. This literary event brought me nothing but a deluge of love letters written by soldiers in the Yugoslav army (which was mandatory for all males… the military, not the love letters…, as soon as they turned 18, unless they enrolled in the University). My essay was featured in the army-issued magazine, along with my photo from the party. Enough said for the morons who organized it.

I ran our high school radio station. The local newspaper featured some of my articles, and I even hosted several quiz-shows (I shudder just remembering my 80s attire).  I tried to stay behind the radar, but THEY alway found me. I felt betrayed by my words. College days offered me a place to hide – after all I majored in foreign languages, English, Italian and Literature. My Aunt, the editor of the Novi Sad radio night program tried to enlist me in live-radio, but after one try I ran, without once turning back.

I kept writing. It was my exit, my therapy, my upper or downer, depending on circumstances. Nobody saw my words, but my friends, loved ones, and family. I married an American, skipped the continents, and found a new home in the U.S. I have a box full of letters from Serbia, filled with humor, love, tears, and memories. I sent the same back.  I was separated from my family and friends by a formidable ocean, but the words, flowing back and forth, kept us together, laughing, crying, despairing, and winning.

I did not start cooking until senior year of college, because I did not have to. My mother is an exceptional cook and my sister and I always assisted in food preparation. But I was usually somewhere else, daydreaming, not paying attention, and the details of her talent flew by me without leaving a trace. I still call her for a “consult”, even though I am pretty competent in the kitchen. Mother knows best…

I cook every day. My goal is to expose my family to the best food that surrounds us. I go to ethnic stores to find elusive ingredients. I grow herbs on my patio, as small as it is. I dream of a vegetable garden in Southern California. I cook to teach, to enlighten, to broaden the horizons, to connect.

Living in another country I was haunted by memories, smells, melodies of home. I missed my town, I missed my friends, I missed my family. At some point I decided I would write a book connecting the food and the people, the present and the past. I have a million stories to tell, and a million dishes to make.  This blog is a beginning. And nobody is after me to write – it is all mine. I know I have a voice in Serbian. But establishing an English voice is a different beast. Joseph Conrad, born in Poland, learned how to speak English from sailors, and wrote the “Heart of Darkness”. I am not discouraged.

Why Bibberche? Well, “Biberce” is a Serbian version of the fairy tale “Tom Thumb”, except that the main character is only as big as a peppercorn, which is “biber” in Turkish (we Serbs hold a linguistic legacy to several centuries of Turkish rule).  I participated in several boards for years using that nickname and it became my alias.  I am Serbian, I am feisty and passionate, I love food, I love spice, I love red – therefore Bibberche is the obvious choice for me. It holds invisible ties to exotic fairy-tales and folklore that tends to color my writing. It conveys the alliance between food and the word. It connects my new life to the old one I left, and leaves a legacy to my children to experience the best this world has to offer.

Contact me at watkinslana {at} gmail {dot} com.

  15 Responses to “About Lana”

  1. Great sister. Konacno i neko iz nase nam familije da ima svoj licni i personalni blog! Ponosan sam na tebe, a za fotke ne brini samo reci sta ti treba. Kad izanaliziram ceo sadrzaj, ostavicu ti tvoj feedback.

  2. trazeci nesto na internetu, sasvim slucajno nabasah na ovaj blog… i bas, bas sam se obradovala :-) ) cini mi se, pronasla bih te i u misijoj rupi…
    puno pozdrava od frapper-ke, perlica!
    ps. kako je moja miljenica?

    • Joj, kako si me obradovala, nemas pojma! Bas sam juce razmisljala kako da te nadjem, jer mi se cini da Frappr vise ne funkcionise. Mislila sam da idem preko Coolinarike, ali vidis, ti si mene iskopala! ‘Ajde da se vise ne izgubimo!
      Puno pozdrava!

  3. hehe, stavila sam te u “favorites”, da te ne izgubim :-) ))
    mail adresu cini moje ime (malim slovima) uz dodatak 4 i sve to preko “vruce linije”, tacka, com…ako rijesis rebus, poruka ce stici :-) )
    u kontaktu sam sa todom i miaivom (s njom sam se vidjela prije godinu dana)…
    puno pozdrava, B

  4. Lana! Thanks for your sweet message and I love your tagline; the table does indeed connect us across space and time. I’m always trawling the foodblogosphere for those who tend to tell stories rather than just present recipes too and your story is rather fascinating – I admire that you write so well in English – I know that you have spoken English for a long time but writing in a language is a completely different thing – I wouldn’t attempt, for example, to write in Japanese though I grew up speaking it. Look forward to getting your posts in my reader x

    • Sasa, I have always wondered how Joseph Conrad managed to become one of the most respected writers in English, when he learned the language in his twenties, and on the ships, with sailors! I have a degree in English and Italian, and I am trying to learn Spanish from the people with whom I work.
      You are such an adventurer and a globe-trotter. And your stories are fascinating. I cannot wait to read more.

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  6. Hey Lana, am happy to be here and know u better!!
    I love to cook everyday too and loveee fairy tales and everthinf about that too !!

  7. Replied to ur comment on my blog :-)

    @LAna , i lovee the molds and the spoon too and lovee the zestiness lemon brings!
    U must try it with a lemony kick and tell me too!!
    Thannxxxa ton for ur vote and am grateful for that!!

  8. First time I enjoy so much reading an “about”…In many ways, your life story is similar to mine..Nothing beats the power of words..Well done!

  9. you are a beautiful writer!

  10. Pozdrav Lana, pronašla sam tvoj blog zahvaljujući komentaru kojeg si ostavila na Majinom blogu (cooks and bakes) i jako mi je drago što sam te našla, sa zadovoljstvom ću te pratiti. Blog ti je divan, recepti odlični, a ova priča stvarno zanimljiva i vidi se da zbilja imaš što za podijeliti s narodom :) Tekstovi su ti prekrasni
    Lijepi pozdrav

  11. Lana, I am happy to be have found you. Your words are powerful, I am moved. I’d love to know you more through your food and stories. Looking forward to read your posts.
    Thank you for visiting my site and I truly appreciate the kind words….
    Here’s to more exchanges between the two of us.
    CHEERS!
    Malou