See my happy little carnivore like a little child in a candy shop!
Mount Zladabor is a mountain resort destination in Serbia. The market was different than any other open air market I have found in the Balkans. Each regional market has its own specialities, but this one was most definitely more rustic than any other, celebrating the rudimentary mountain life. The meats and cheeses were some of the best I have ever had, and certainly the most variety I have seen in any open air market, yet. The meat is smoked, dried, and cured so the open air doesn’t spoil it. Fantastic.
And, as I have said many, many times: I am not a meat eater; however, in the midst of this fragrant smoky meat, my primordial memories awaken, the hair bristles on the back of my neck and find myself in the pounce position when all I have to do is buy some. I was imagining a picnic for dinner and was going to make it happen. YUM!
Great imaginings, eh? Lapinja (a specific bread) from the market bakery fresh that morning, mladi sir (the best unripened cheese in my life). a tomato, pepper, and green onion salad (Srbski Salata) with the leftover Kulan, and the beef and pork from the morning market. Nummy! Ovo jeÂ zivot! This is the life
The architecture of the permanent stands is familiar and typical for the Balkan region.
Here one can buy the old Serbian shoe. I love the giant one!
From hand dried spices and herbs for cooking and teas to hand made flowers for cakes. This little shop smelled aromatic and somehow Eastern. The toy uzis shocked me, to say the least!
All sorts of little cha-chas for tourists, as one would expect in any resort market.
I was surprised to learn that the unusual sljiva bottles were not an old pattern, but made just for tourists.
I love to see what people use to cook with and this array definitely caught my interest.
The smaller earthenware oval dishes above were used to serve my baked beans at the restaurant. It is a traditional dish that I really wanted to try and I was so delighted with the serving dish that I really thought seriously about bringing some home. Then I took a photo instead.
Mortars and pestles are commonly used throughout the region to grind garlic with salt and to mix dressings and herbs. Vanja’s mother and father lived in a childhood environment where everything they had was handmade; spoons, dishes, and all. We have a wooden spoon at our home in Edmonton that was handmade by Vanja’s father. I thought it was just a craft until I have learned what I have about their life here through the years. It was not a craft, but a necessity.
Below are various kinds of honey. People here know their honey and understand the differences in flavours and colours from region to region, or even from farm to farm. Honey is used as a sweetener, and for medicinal purposes, as are so many of the herbs, barks, and dried berries throughout the region. These people know their herbs and understand the benefits of each. All of the little pots in the second row below are filled with handmade herbal creams to use for various medicinal purposes. The teas are also made for medicinal purposes. People drink Turkish coffee in this region, and teas when they are ill.
Now, the preserves. Before there were bottles, they would make the jams or dry the fruits on leaves and pack them into leaves in the cellars to use during the winter months. As the region is so rich will all varieties of produce, the vast availability of all sorts of preserves boggled my mind.
Beautiful white cherries”¦
Nuts and dried fruits with honey”¦ a left over tradition from the seven hundred years the Ottoman Empire reigned here. And then, the sljiva, the rakija, and all kinds of fruit and herb brandies and grappas. All exceptional for medicinal purposes, of course!
So, so, so, many. So, I bought none. Too hard to choose. And the produce”¦.endless”¦
But my nose was leading me to the piece de rÃ©sistance: the meats and cheeses! My camera could not capture the massive amount of meats and cheese in this market. Suffice it to say that there were rows, and rows, and rows of various farmers with their wears all eager to have you sample and buy. Tourism is down in this region about 40%, so they are almost jumping out of their chairs when you walk by. But, they are incredibly gracious if you taste and let them know that this is not what you are looking for. They do understand the difference in one another’s produce, and in an individual’s palate.
Above, and below, are tubs of duvan cvarci. The remains of fatty pieces are fried until all of the liquid fat (lard)is removed and little chunks are left. That is called cvarci (crispy little deep fried remains) and is eaten as a treat. Duvan cvarci is made in a similar fashion, but shredded like tobacco so called “œtobacco” cvarci, also a chewy treat. I was not motivated to try it. I have had a taste of the chunky cvarci at The Hungarian Store in Edmonton. It was really good, but most I have tasted are not crispy enough and far too heavy and greasy to even invite the desire for a taste. This is a special treat in the Balkans and loved by many
Smile for the photo”¦
The man we bought the meat from was hilarious! We had just come from Mount Lovcen and eaten the best sumka in the world from the Njegoski region. It would be hard to please after that, but he pleased us. He was so happy with our pleasure, and my photos, that he was getting all varieties of his products for me to shoot. This is beef, below. It was really sumptuous, yet I still preferred the pork which shocked me as I don’t like fresh pork, at all!
Now this lady was a sweetheart. Sometimes you carry the memory of a person with you for a long time, and she will be one that I never forget. She was so sweet, far too generous, and clearly so hardworking. The mladi sir was made earlier that morning and she told me the unsalted was best (through Vanja), and it really was. The salty was good, but the unsalted was more delicate, creamier and just special. I asked her how she made it and she said it was so simple. She just boils the milk, cools it to a certain temperature, adds the rennet, stirs until it thickens, and lets it set up. I am going to try it when I get home.
So, we took our happy little parcels to the room and placed them in the fridge for our return from the end of the day’s explorations. Voila! What a feast, and perfect for where we were and what we were experiencing.
I do not have a frame of reference from which to describe the cheese, or the flavour and texture of the meat. It was new for me, and the impression left a longing and a desire for more.
A completely different experience from the day before at the sea. As enchanting, but much more revealing and personal, somehow.