About the Food of Bosnia & Herzegovina

Photo courtesy of the CIA World Factbook

Oh, Bosnia and Herzegovina. No one told me! I feel as though a secret was kept from me all these years. Mountains. Valleys. Rushing waterfalls. Seaside resorts. As I looked through photos and videos of this country I am struck by how incredibly beautiful and timeless the land remains. Like the Sound of Music meets Clash of the Titans… or…. something like that. Last night I put a travel voucher under Keith’s pillow and a pair of clogs by his bedside. Do you think he’ll get the hint? He still hasn’t said anything…

But how could I not be seduced by Bosnia and Herzegovina? In the rugged mountains there lives a people devoted to the old way of life. Families pass down recipes from generation to generation, celebrating simple flavors drawn out slowly. You’ll find freshly grilled meats, baked beans, stewed vegetables, and syrupy sweet desserts. You’ll even see braised meats cooked in earthenware pots. They make plum brandy, wine, and cheese. What more does a person need?

Photo Courtesy of the CIA World Factbook

Typically Balkan, Bosnian cuisine reflects the best parts of European and Mediterranean tradition. Although few seasonings are used, the flavors remain intense. For example, ground beef & lamb become addictive mini sausages (called “cevapi/cevacici”) with a simple – yet heavy – dash of paprika, onion, and garlic. With no further ado, these tasty treats are tucked into Bosnian “Somun,” which is soft, doughy, pita-style bread.

What they call pita bread isn’t really the same as what we call pita bread. It’s more like the Naan bread. But they really don’t have exposure to anything Indian in Bosnia, so if you told them it’s just like Naan, they would have no idea what you were talking about.

– Deanna, a Global Table fan who went to Bosnia every summer as a child.

While a long list of vegetables are stuffed (dolma) and stewed, they are rarely vegetarian. Meat fillings are the norm. In fact, about the only way to have a vegetarian dish is to indulge in the ubiquitous tomato, pepper, onion, and feta salad. Topped with red wine vinaigrette and olive oil, this refreshing salad highlights fresh, local produce. Other possibilities include prebranac (Bosnian baked beans with onion, garlic, and paprika) and pickled veggies (which are, however, often served with meats).

The people have a mighty sweet tooth in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Desserts include typical Balkan fare, including baklava,  fruit cakes, cookies, and pies. Walnuts and honey make their way into many desserts, including Tufahi (baked apples filled with walnuts and sultan raisins, topped with whipped cream). After such an onslaught of sweets, Bosnians brew stout, dark coffee very similar to Turkish coffee. Boiled with sugar, the coffee becomes like a black syrup. Sounds to me like real black gold. :)

Photo Courtesy of the CIA World Factbook

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Comments

  1. Welcome to the Balkans! I originate from there, love my home cuisine and just awaited that you get there so I can drool in front of my screen. Even if the dishes are quite the same all over the place everyone has its own way of preparing or seasoning it and of course the own mama does it best.

  2. Remember months ago you wrote on my review of Fat Guy’s Burger Bar that you wanted a burger and I wrote:

    You will encounter hamburgers when you get to Bosnia, where they are called pljeskavica. (It’s lucky they’re not called that here, since no one would ever want one, or be able to order it if they did!)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/dining/20balk.html

    Well here we are in Bosnia!

  3. Flybaby Jelena says:

    Great to see something about the country that I live in.
    It really is a beautiful country.

    And I’m also a flybaby.

    Just keep in mind that traditions in Bosnia and Herzegovina are not the same in the whole country.
    There are 3 unique and reticulated traditions – croatian, serbian and boshniakian.

    There is also a great respect of tradition here and small village life, but there are also modern towns like Banja Luka, Sarajevo, Mostar, Trebinje.

    People are often open-minded and ready to help out.

    I respect what you do and wish all the best to you and your family.

    P.S. The beans that you mentioned are called “prebranac” (with letter B)

    :)

    • globaltable says:

      Thanks for your comment Jelena! I have to admit, I did get carried away by the beauty of the country-side. But then again, I’ve never been a big city girl :) Thanks for the added insight about your home! I wish I could visit… :) I hope you will enjoy the rest of the week!
      Keep in touch!
      Sasha

  4. Hi Sasha,
    I’am looking forward to this :)
    I just want to say that I enjoyed the way you present your recipes,and give the + and – points of preparing each.
    Because when you don’t know the ingrediants/ recipe techniques well, its good to have advice!

    See you soon :)

  5. Hey!
    I am about to head over to Bosnia for a year and just hearing about the food and seeing the beautiful scenery is just getting me so excited! Thanks for having this website to show me what an amazing country i will be living in next year!

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