Don’t miss to taste serbian food!
Coming to Serbia for the first time, people don’t really know what to expect about serbian food. Quite often they are ready to experience war, dogs freely biting on the streets, grey mood and bulidings. But what they do see from the first moment are gorgeous tall people, excellent cuisine, freedom and friendly atmosphere everywhere. Sure, there are some weird things on the streets like man purses and 90’s fashion, including the fact that girls are overdressed and over maked up, but still, nobody will deny that this is one wonderfully charming country whose beauty will leave you breathless and speechless and make you wanna come back every year. Well, some/many people have found their reason to come back (but that’s a whole different story now). We are here to tell you something about famous Serbian hospitality! Our friends insiders Chris B. and Alex W. are ready to share a piece of their memory when it comes to meeting special (to them) Serbs!
Serbs are renowned for being intense, passionate, patriotic and above all else, extremely welcoming. Whether you’ve been travelling through the Balkans for a while, or you’ve just arrived in town, you’ve probably heard or been told about Serbian food and hospitality and it’s reputation for being one of the best in the region. Having spent a decent amount of time in Belgrade, I thought I was pretty familiar with the Serb way of welcoming foreigners; ‘One rakija, two rakija, three rakija…c’mon brother, let’s go eat some burek’. I wanted a little more than this, I wanted to experience Serbian hospitality in its purest form, and sober for a change. We decided to venture to my girlfriends hometown in Central Serbia to spend a couple of days where I could experience rural Serbia, meet her parents and restock on some local homemade rakija.
We survived yet another on the edge of your seat Balkan bus ride and began walking to her parents apartment. My girlfriend couldn’t help but laugh at the people blatantly staring at me, stopping in the streets to gaze at me as I did a shocking job at blending in with the locals. The 5 minute walk felt like eternity as eye after eye began to burn through me like I was some foreign spy coming to steal their rakija and cigarettes. I was beginning to wonder how welcoming this small town really was. As we arrived at the apartment, I was warmly welcomed like a long lost cousin, and before I knew it, had a cold beer in my hand, a plate of delicately presented food and conversation was flowing. Things weren’t so bad after all.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about Serbia, other than not to mix rakija and beer, it’s that family gatherings often involve a ridiculous amount of food. Sure, no problem right? Once I’m full, I’ll just politely put my knife and fork down and continue smiling and nodding my head. Wrong. Terribly wrong. As we arrived at Grandma’s place for breakfast, I was again made to feel at home. The smell of coffee beans woke me up and the smell of grilled meats, feta, kulen (Serbia’s version of salami), tomato and fresh bread coming from the kitchen suggested I was in for more than the light breakfast I had hoped for. The food began to arrive at the table. Plate after plate of mouth watering traditional dishes that looked too good to resist. I quietly asked my girlfriend if grandma was going to make me drink rakija, she looked at me as if i’d just asked the dumbest question in the world. The glasses were already on the table. As I sipped the last of my coffee, grandma grabbed an ancient looking bottle from the beautiful dining room cabinet and proceeded to pour me a healthy sized portion of Serbia’s finest, and possibly strongest rakija. It was 9am, we raised our glasses and said the magic word, Živeli!
I loaded my plate up with a decent amount of food, trying not to look like too much of a pig, yet at the same time trying to impress grandma by showing her I was no stranger to a decent feed. We continued eating and despite my polite “Oh no thank you, I’m fine”, grandma whacked another big piece of greasy meat on my plate. She kept gesturing at me to eat and drink, and before I knew it she had already filled my shot glass back up. I’ll be the first to admit I love rakija, however at 9am in the morning, with a belly full of feta, onion, grilled meat, bread and coffee, my belly was starting to hate life. I took my sweet time finishing my second plate in an attempt to distract grandma and her attempts to fatten me up. There was still a bit of food on the table, and my girlfriend, with a smirk on her face, informed me that grandma was probably going to casually force me to finish it, and there just happen to be plenty of you know what to wash it down. Grandma didn’t understand a word we were saying, yet as if on cue, she stood up and took it upon herself to add the final pieces of food to my plate. After 3 full plates of heavy food and 5 rakijas, we decided to make a move before yours truly required a wheelchair to leave the apartment. As we did, grandma insisted we come back over for lunch. Lunch? It was already 11:00, I was on the edge of exploding, and I could barely walk straight thanks to granny’s moonshine monopoly. Despite my spinning head and churning stomach, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. My quest for typical Serbian hospitality was complete. On occasion I get to say hello to grandma via Skype, funnily enough she always raises her hand as if holding a rakija and says Živeli.
Živeli grandma, and živeli to Serbian food and hospitality!