There is a village in Eastern Serbia where I always love to come back. It’s a village where Mrs. Ljubinka writes poetry and a home of her daughter, Gaga, my great friend. Village is Sumrakovac, and I visit every year. Last time I wrote how Gaga’s mom is a great cook and how happy I am about her dinners.
I was looking forward to the grape harvest and making the vine, but the harvest happened a week later. That didn’t stop us from going to the vineyard and checking the ripeness of the grapes, picking a full basket of it and looking for the young walnuts, that weren’t young at all anymore, but still able to be peeled off if you make an effort.
On the corn field, around the well, grow mint and basil. And in the aunt’s garden, purple chokeberries…
And the food? Finger lickin’ good! Plain? Never! When somebody includes the love in the recipe you certainly can feel it. We had mekice for breakfast. Wonderful fried dough that Gaga’s mom make wonderfully. Later, when we came back from the vineyard, we could smell the chicken baked over potatoes in a wooden stove. Kids were thrilled. Not because of the chicken, but because of grandma’s potatoes that were truly fabulous. Of course, as it is custom in Serbia, lunch begins with a plate of soup. But not just how most of us is used to. Here, they first put some strong sheep milk cheese in a plate and then pour the soup over. It is delicious actually, just not something that is commonly seen in Serbia. As a side we had small bell peppers filled with cheese and roasted red peppers salad with vinaigrette and fresh garlic – a Serbian favorite. Something I love to eat very very much!
And finally, the highlight of my visit – learning to bake bread the traditional way. Gaga’s mom and aunt taught us how people used to bake bread. You can see the whole process in this issue of Mezze magazine, pages 30-39. I know, it’s in Serbian, but the pics will tell you the whole story Just the heads up – dough is plain bread dough (flour + water + salt + yeast) and the vessel is sač. After covering it, you put live coals on top and the heat from coals bake the bread. This method is also used for meat and vegetable preparation.