By 9:30 a.m. the heat is already roiling up from the blacktop in Sarajevo, making our planned day in the hills above the city sound like a perfect idea.

The "bowl" of Sarajevo, viewed from the hills

The “bowl” of Sarajevo, viewed from the hills

 

Bosnian haystacks

Bosnian haystacks

We headed first for the village of Gornje Biosko to visit the wheat, corn, vegetable and fruit farm of Spomenko Codo.  He and his brother, their wives and his father wouldn’t actually be available for our meeting – broiling temperatures have meant a premature wheat harvest, and they were in the fields.   Instead, we were to meet Spomenko’s  mother, Stana Codo, who cooks for the family.  She stayed at the farmhouse to supervise the chickens scurrying about the farmyard and make sure the hawks and snakes left them in peace.

This was ideal because, as is so often the case, she turned out to be the holder of the family’s culinary jewels.

Stana Codo

Stana Codo

Mrs. Codo’s kitchen had a rich lactic smell, and it turned out that the two large pans sitting on the stove near where she was making Bosnian coffee  –   water boiled with coffee grounds – were filled with fresh milk that was sitting so the cream could rise. She brought the coffee to the table along with a big jug of wild blueberry juice, one of the family’s specialties.  Then her eyes narrowed.  “Are you hungry?” she asked.  Before any response, she was up ladling fresh cheese onto a plate and topping it with kajmak,  a thick, slightly fermented fresh cheese which she garnished with a huge dollop of top cream.  She cut tomatoes into chunks, put them on a plate and salted them, then opened the oven door and pulled out a loaf of freshly baked bread.  

Breakfast with Stana Codo who cuts bread the way I like it!

Breakfast with Stana Codo who cuts bread the way I like it!

All of this she set on the table, along with a big pot of her home made yogurt.  She sliced slabs off the bread, releasing a sweet, yeasty aroma.  We ate this all washed down with blueberry juice and coffee, a typical Bosnian farm breakfast.

Our next stop was to see Novka Bocevac who, with her daughter Ljiljana, run a small farm restaurant, Dobro Dosli Kod Novke, even higher in the hills, near the village of Crepoljsko.  There, a welcome wind blew over the wheat fields where I suffered for the men there, hand-raking the wheat into rows, and truckers and other farm workers sat at shaded picnic tables drinking beer, elder flower infusions, or small cups of coffee.

Farm restaurant Dobra Dosli Novka

Farm restaurant Dobra Dosli Novka

Novka is a bundle of strong energy and before we knew it, she and Ljiljana were preparing ustipici for us.  They rolled soft dough into skinny fingers, then cut them into small pieces that they dropped carefully into hot oil.  While these puffed and cooked,  Novka sliced tomatoes and cheeses,  and opened jars of her home made plum and strawberry jams.

With unseasonably hot temperatures and Bayram, the last day of Ramadan, Novka’s restaurant wasn’t serving regular meals because she knew she’d have few customers.  She was just offering ustipici.  “They’re more tender than anyone else’s,” Novka said, sitting down with us at the table.    “Do you know why?  Because I make them with either whey or beer, and they’re small so they cook all the way through and don’t absorb oil.”

Novka cutting ustipci

Novka cutting ustipci

 

Turning ustipci

Turning ustipci

Simple farm lunch of cheeses, salted kajmak, tomatoes and elderflower cordial

Simple farm lunch of cheeses, salted kajmak, tomatoes and elderflower cordial

My experience with ustipici is new, but these little nuggets of fried dough were like yeasty feathers, perfect  with the thinly sliced cheeses that ranged in flavor from smokey to salty, salted kajmak, and  the two jams.  Along with  the elderflower cordial, it made for a memorable mountain lunch.

 

Tagged with →  
Share →

9 Responses to Gathering Recipes outside Sarajevo

  1. Wild blueberry juice?!!! How fabulously wonderful. Gorgeous photos.

    • Susan says:

      Cathy, wild blueberry juice is amazing – it is, literally, crushed wild blueberry juice, nothing more. Thanks for the compliment!

  2. suedoise says:

    fascinating reminder of my own visits there many years ago. In those days I found local food heavy stuff, typical of central European cuisine. Seeing what you are served already for breakfast and that on a hot morning today makes one wonder how they stay fit.
    Don´t they have weight problems?

  3. susan edwards says:

    From California to Bosnia, what a rich chutney of food experiences for those of us in one place. Wonderful photos and people, traditions and land. I did make the red pepper chutney and used it in at least 4 ways. Great with salmon.

    • Susan says:

      Susan, I love the “rich chutney of food experiences” – great language! And yes, I’m so lucky to be doing this work here. The villages and farms are outside of my experience in their folk ways, yet youtube and the internet are never far away. Juxtapositions of everything!

  4. Ann Meads says:

    Great to see the people and farms of a country that we have never seen
    What a wonderful experience for you
    The families and the land are so important
    ANN MEADS CAPE COD

    • Susan says:

      Ann,
      I agree. Without families on farms, I feel that we are doomed. This work by alterural has just that goal, keeping families on the land. It’s great, and meanwhile, as I collect recipes I’m inspired. And what I’m finding, too, is that Bosnians love to laugh…so it’s fun as well as fascinating!

  5. Branka says:

    Hi Susan,
    I am half way through reading your book On Rue Tatin for my book club at the moment. Having done a similar thing (buying a XVIth century wreck and having it transformed into a beautiful home) I thought I’d find out something more about you. Imagine my surprise to see that you have been to Sarajevo, my birthplace. We have no family there any more but the memories are very much alive. My mother was a fabulous cook and made the most delicious ustipci.
    My cooking is a real mixture, but the basis is the wonderful dishes of my childhood which were a mixture of the nationalities that made up my country, Yugoslavia.

    • Susan says:

      Branka,

      How lovely! Yes, I loved Bonsia, adored Sarajevo, and have just had the good news that I will be able to pursue the project I began there, which means more time in Bosnian farm kitchens!

      Take care,
      Susan

Leave a Reply