It’s Almost Time to Go

Bosnian farm outside Fojnica
Bosnian farm outside Fojnica

Au revoir, Bosnia.  Or rather, dovidjenja!

But, I’ll be back.

The project in rural tourism and agricultural development that I’m working on is compelling, and I love the people and the food, absolutely.  There is something so warm, so authentic, so deeply friendly and delicious about it all.

Two sisters
Olivera and Marinella, sisters from Vares

And there is something else.  People here love their country; the sisters above- both cooks, moms, activists – love their country.  They stand by it, acknowledging all the faults and problems. Not so long ago, it was shredded by war.  Many people left; many stayed and managed.   With heroic strength, those who chose to return and those who stayed have regrouped and rekindled their communities.   One has the impression that no matter what it takes, they’ll make things work.

As for the food, it’s been a voyage in simplicity.  I’ve warmed myself near a fire where veal chops, potatoes, carrots, peppers and tomatoes simmered and spat in a cast-iron pot called a peka;  I’ve sampled early morning scrambled eggs and garden-fresh leeks along with home–made cheese and sausage; I’ve eaten freshly made doughnuts for a morning snack, and hearty breads made with buckwheat flour and cornmeal.  I’ve drunk berry juices, and elderberry cordial, lemon mixed with yogurt and raspberry liqueur; I’ve had my taste memory jogged by boiled corn on the cob that actually tasted like corn, the way it did when I was a kid; and as for sweets, they’ve include heavenly sugar-soaked cookies, a layered apple cake redolent of cinnamon, pastries filled with cherries, and a walnut-rich baklava.

Peca, cooked over an open fire

Potato and cabbage salads to go with fried trout
Potato and cabbage salads to go with fried trout
Baklava, Vares style.
Baklava, Vares style.

There is also poetry in the food here. Among my favorite discoveries is the rose cordial made by so many families in the mountains, where a particularly fragrant rose grows. No one could tell me what kind of rose it is – the bushes have simply always been there  – but I will find out, because I want to make this ethereal drink.

Rose cordial

Rose cordia

 I’ve sampled so many dishes,  yet I’ve just scratched the surface, which is another reason I want to return.  I’ve delved into summer foods – there are three more seasons to experience!

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