The Politics of Food

One of the things I’m definitely looking forward to is the food.  Gibanica, kajmak, Turkish coffee, ajvar, incredible cakes and pastries, fresh fruit, vegetables, and farm goods:  tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes, chicken that actually tastes like chicken.  And then of course there are cevapcici (pronounced “chevapcheechee”). cevapcici Little grilled meat rolls served on a bed of chopped onions or with kajmak and lepinja (flatbread).  What could be more innocent than longing for a food that kindles deep-seated memories?

What could be more innocent, except when one misguidedly recommends that food to a friend in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Once you could get regional Yugoslav foods pretty much all over Yugoslavia.  Apparently I was still stuck in that time warp when I told a friend he must, simply must order cevapcici when his cruise ship made port-of-call along the Dalmatian coast some two years ago.  I was definitely living vicariously through him and the others taking that particular cruise. Following their every move on facebook, even as they were already underway I kept reminding him “don’t forget!  Make sure you order cevapcici!”

And so he did.  At a small restaurant in Dubrovnik.  And was almost thrown out as a result.  “Cevapcici?” the waiter almost spat at him, “we don’t serve that here.  That is a Serbian dish, and we do not serve that.” Having just seen the holes made in 1991 by Serbian artillery shells while walking around the walls of Dubrovnik, he got that.  A geopolitical lesson in a plate of food.

Sometimes I wonder — what part, if any, of their once conjoined lives do the south Slavs miss the most?  Travel?  Music?  The slight variances in the inflections of their languages?  Somehow I believe it would have to be the food…


About revwaf

I am an Episcopal priest with a passion for travel. I am married and the mother of two grown children. This blog is about my return to the countries of former Yugoslavia during my summer 2015 sabbatical
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2 Responses to The Politics of Food

  1. Robin Lawrie says:

    Oh yes, I was along on that trip two years ago, and I do remember (snicker, snicker). And now I am very hungry – I want some cevapcici!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. revwaf says:

    And the “funny” thing is that in many parts of the former Ottoman Empire one would receive the same response if s/he ordered “Turkish” coffee. One must be careful to order “Greek” coffee while in Greece and “Arabic” coffee while in the Middle East — even though it is all essentially the same drink.


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