Dear Food Diary: Yugoslavia Specialties

pushpedal
Pedalling Continents @pushpedalOctober 2019 · 5 min read
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Dear Food Diary,

The title for this one is a tad misleading because that country doesn't exist anymore. That country broke up into many smaller ones commonly known as the Balkan countries. We visited 5 of them: Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Croatia and Slovenia (exception with Bulgaria as it wasn't part of Yugoslavia). So… in no particular order:

Velika Pizza | Vitez 🇧🇦


To celebrate finally getting the working visa in Europe, we treated ourselves to a mega sized pizza. It was just as well because we had quite a distance to cycle that day. The word "velik-" means big, and usually ends with -a or -o depending on the noun. The mushroom pizza only costed us 12 BAM (€6), what a good deal!


Burek | Sarajevo 🇧🇦


This swirly goodness was made from filo filled with white cheese and spinach. They are a popular treat found at bakeries all over the country. The mini ones are probably baked from frozen, and the bigger ones are bakery fresh. They usually cost around 1.5 BAM (€0.75).

Mini Burek from frozen

Fresh Burek from the bakery

Assorted Sarma, Dolma, and Meatballs | Sarajevo 🇧🇦

This restaurant was highly recommended online, so together with a CouchSurfing hangout group we tried a dish called Sahan «Zara iz Duvara» (House Special #1). It was an assortment of Sarma (stuffed cabbage), Dolma (stuffed pepper/leaves/onion) and meatballs. This meat filling used in this dish had a lot of local Bosnian flavours. The restaurant placed an emphasis on sourcing local and seasonal food which was a bonus.

Special dish from the "Singing Nettle" Restaurant

Homemade Raki | Trstenik 🇷🇸

We had a rather interesting drink break one day. A local waved to us in when we cycled past his home and being curious cyclists, we turned around to see what he was up to. We ended up drinking homemade Raki and speaking in broken Russian. Usually guys here are very insistent on us drinking a lot but this time he was very polite when we drank only a little amount and declined any more. Hard to come by a respectful person who understood when we didn't want to drink.

A little glass of Raki was just enough

Cedevita | Sarajevo 🇧🇦

On another restaurant visit with a CouchSurfing hangout group, one of us got a drink called "Cedevita" in both Bosnian and English. Intrigued and curious, one was ordered. When the waitor brought over the drinks, this Cedevita was simply a glass of water with an orange sachet hanging on the straw. It was a mineral and vitamin drink mix served at a restaurant! It must be a well liked drink to be served at restaurants.


Jam & Mineral Water | Cacak 🇷🇸


This was a unique treat we had when we visited a friend of our host in Cacak. It was sparkling water with homemade jam. We initially waited for bread but was told this is a common thing to do: have a spoon of jam with some sparkling water. We must say, the homemade jam was delicious and we got given a jar to take home!


Stuffed Paprika ("Punjene paprike") | Zenica 🇧🇦


"Punjene paprike" is capsicums stuffed with a mixture of meat and rice in a tomato sauce. There are two variety of capsicum we found in Bosnia: the lightly coloured one and the strongly coloured red/yellow/green variety. The lighter ones are cheaper and used commonly in this dish. They are roasted in an oven making them really soft and absorb flavour from the fillings.


Ćevapi | Zenica 🇧🇦


A Bonian favourite originating from the Ottoman time, Ćevapi is a grilled dish of minced meat, a type of kebab, served with freshly chopped onion and baked bread. You'll find a place that serves Cevapi easily the white smoke billowing from the chimney and the strong BBQ kebab smell when you walk nearby.


Maslanica | Zenica 🇧🇦


We're big fans of bread everywhere we went. This special looking bread was so different to any we have seen before. Layers of bread lightly salted are baked in the oven and cut up into slices before being served. It has such a unique appearance. You can eat it by peeling the layers or bite through the layers, such a fun bread to eat!


Ayvar | Everywhere in former Yugoslavia


Ayvar is a condiment made from red capsicum and various other vegetables. It is slightly sweet from the natural sweetness of the capsicum, bright red so it is bad on clothes, and cheap as a spread. We aways had a jar of ayvar with us during our time until we couldn't find it anymore after entering Italy. We sorely miss our red condiment.

Our last jar of Ayvar


That's all we have for the Balkan countries - the last cheap place on our trip before reaching Western Europe. We look forward to this region because cheese, bread and bakery sweets are from here.


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