Bosnian Taste Treats
What will you be eating when you come to visit us in Sarajevo? Our family loves Bosnian food! The favorite for our family is pita, a delicious pastry that can be filled with spinach (zeljanica-below), meat (burek), cheese (sirnica), or potatoes (krompirusa). This flaky pastry is often made daily at home, with a stretched-out dough that is swung around a long pole to enlarge the circle, a similar concept to tossing a pizza, or pulled out on a large table to make it very thin. The filling is rolled up from the outside of the circle inward until the lovely pastry looks like a long sausage roll, oiled, and made into individual serving sizes (see in the bottom of the case at the bread store picture below) or the more typical large pan at home. We love all the varieties and they are a low cost and delicious meal, and though a bit challenging to make from scratch for the novice like me, they are also available in shops during the day! Yay!
The other national favorite is cevapi, a shortened term from cevapcici. These are wonderful beef sausages served in a special bread with raw chopped onions, and served with delicious kaymak, something like a cross between butter and whipped cream, similar to clotted cream. Often, you drink liquid yogurt with cevapi. You can grill your own, but it is a special treat for our family to eat in town at the many shops that serve this filling and low cost meal.
Other dishes that you can order when you go out to dinner might be sausages, chicken, or trout, among other seafood delights, like octopus or squid, when you are vacationing at the coast, only a little more than four hours away! There are also national dishes, like sarma (cabbage or grape leaves filled with ground beef and rice) and similarly stuffed peppers.
Typical salads are made from cucumbers, tomatoes, and cabbage, often dressed with oil and vinegar. Shopska salad is make with feta cheese, cucumbers, and tomatoes. The staple is bread - wonderful, inexpensive, delicious Bosnian bread! Kids love it!
Bean soup is nutritious and inexpensive, and can feed a family for several meals. During the war between 1992-95, there wasn't much to eat since Sarajevo was under siege. They love potatoes, since they became unavailable during the war. The UN finally brought in rice and macaroni products, which the locals can barely tolerate now, as it reminds them of difficult times in the past, when their family members and neighbors were dying, and they were literally starving.
Always and forever is coffee. Made with the coffee grounds in a heated metal pot called a dzezva, to which boiling water is added and brought to a boil. Each little cup is spooned with the foam from the top, then gently filled with the coffee. It is strong and even if you let it settle, you don't drink to the last drop as the grounds are still in your cup. Always with cigarettes, of course, another unfortunate result of the war, as smoking suppresses the appetite and were also given by the UN - my least favorite thing about Bosnia. A dish of honey at our beekeeper friend's home is a special treat.
For dessert, there are keks (wafer cookies, like above) or baklava, below, among other fancy looking layered cakes. We love to eat at our neighbor's homes because homemade is always the best!
There are always lots of delicious fresh fruits and vegetables, especially in season: cherries in April and May, strawberries in May and June, plums, raspberries, and blueberries in July and August, Apples in September, grapes in October, Clementines in November through January, along with other citrus fruit and even pomegranates. Plus lots of veggies!
Yum! Come and visit us in Bosnia and enjoy all these and other delights!