A Blog Post of Gastronomical Proportions

September 13, 2010

I end up getting asked what Serbian food is like quite frequently. Rather than repeating the same thing over and over to different people, I thought it prudent to simply write it once in a publicly-visible place, in futile hope that it may stem the barrage of food-related questions. That’s more-or-less a joke, I actually don’t mind.

It would be practically impossible to pull off being a vegetarian, much less a vegan, here. Meat is everywhere in abundance. Not only that, but it’s often accompanied with very few vegetables, lots of cheese, and lots of fried things. To put things in perspective, a famous (or should I say infamous?) Serbian dish called Karađorđeva Šnicla is veal, pounded flat, layered with cheese, rolled into a tube, breaded, then deep-fried; and it’s typically served with french fries. Add that to a menu full of sausage, assorted grilled meat, and Gulaš (with meat, of course), and you’re all but forced into getting a Šopska Salata (cucumber, tomato, onion, and cheese) to even things out.

Street food is a very common source of nutrients around here as well. Pizza, burek, and ćevapi are everywhere. Burek is a generic term for a pastry made of filo dough and filled with meat or cheese, varying wildly in quality depending on the bakery. Ćevapi is quite possibly the most unifying food in the Balkans. It’s present in many different forms and available in roadside stands in all but the tiniest villages. It’s essentially little sticks of ground meat, grilled, inserted into a piece of fried bread with an entire raw onion diced up into it. Add kajmak (look it up, it’s hard to explain) to that and you’ve got a pretty deluxe little calorie injection (did I say little? I meant massive).

That’s all well-and-good, you say… but what about immigrant food? That is where this part of the world is lacking. Coming from a place where my average day includes some combination of Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Mexican, Ethiopian, Malaysian, Indian, El Salvadoran, Palestinian, etc, etc, etc, the fact that aside from Serbian food, a bit of crappy Chinese food is all there is is a little disheartening. I’ve concluded that everywhere else on Earth is at least slightly less bad than China, so you tend to have Chinese food everywhere. There is a small population of Chinese here in Belgrade, and there’s a market out in Novi Beograd run by them (being there is a very weird experience). Out there, some decent Chinese food is available. Also, there’s a Lebanese restaurant in town that is apparently pretty good. I need a hummus fix stat, so I’ll need to check that out ASAP.

I figure the discovery of any new immigrant food will be a noteworthy event and therefore will be documented in this very blog. Stay posted.

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