I’m in Bosnia, helping out a non-profit with their worthy project that involves keeping the family on the farm through agricultural tourism. My assignment: transcribe traditional recipes from the farm, demonstrate to Bosnian farm women how to teach cooking to tourists, and document traditional food ways.

Morning coffee, Bosnian style

Morning coffee, Bosnian style

Today was my “orientation day” in Sarajevo. Farouk Helac was my official guide, along with Boris Trogrančić who works for alterural.  We sat in the shade across from the Mauresque City Hall, which is in the final stages of being rebuilt after its complete destruction during the 1992-1995 siege of Sarajevo. A gorgeous building, it is just one sign of the many cultures who once peacefully inhabited this mountain-ringed city and included Jews, Orthodox Christians, Muslims, and Catholics.

Soon to be finished city hall, an exact replica

Soon to be finished city hall, an exact replica

Despite Sarajevo’s fraught history – among other things, Austria’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophia were assassinated in front of a sandwich shop here, an act that sparked the beginning of World War I, and the crippling siege– it is a vivid and vibrant place. Crowds pack the streets of the old town, there to stroll the cobbled streets where everything from traditional copper coffee pots to hand-made leather sandals and purses are sold.

In the old-town Sarajevo market

In the old-town Sarajevo market

The air is fragrant with wood smoke issuing from bread ovens, and at night the city sparkles with twinkling white lights around the minarets, in honor of the Muslim month of Ramadan.  Today was the last day of this yearly occasion, and as I write I hear the haunting songs that mark the evening.

I tasted a beautiful Muslim feast this evening, punctuated by the fluffy flat bread sprinkled with nigella seeds that is meant to be dipped in a gorgeous topa, a cheese and cream mixture that is heavenly, a creamy chicken soup called visegradska corba that was studded with a scratchy green vegetable which also punctuated an amazing beef stew called teletinas bamijom.  The vegetable, a Bosnian specialty, turns out to be a variety of okra that is lightly pickled.

Gorgeous Ramadan bread

Gorgeous Ramadan bread

 

The special bread will be gone from bakery shelves tomorrow, because it is baked only during Ramadan.  I’m eager for more cheese, which I’ll have with my morning doughnuts, as I did today, and a cup of Bosnian coffee.

Breakfast of kajmak and ustipici, fresh cheese with cream, and savory doughnuts

Breakfast of kajmak and ustipici, fresh cheese with cream, and savory doughnuts

I’ve already got half a dozen recipe ideas for this project, and today is just the first.  Stay tuned for more.

 

 

 

 

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3 Responses to Food and Other Ways in Sarajevo

  1. Simply fascinating. What a great project to be working on.

  2. Susan says:

    Thanks, Cathy. I’ve been here 24 hours and it is already incredibly fascinating. Tomorrow, a farm visit, the first. Thank goodness I have a great translator!

    Susan

  3. Kelly says:

    I’m so jealous! Would love to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of Sarajevo. That pickled okra sounds fantastic! Maybe you can teach us how to morph that into a French hors d’oeuvre?

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