Hooray for me! I decided I would share my newly acquired ability to make a darn good baklava with Vanja’s brother’s family my last day in Belgrade as they all love it, and Lori never makes it. I love cooking in other countries. It is always a challenge and consistently brings me up short as I inevitably discover that something I need to use doesn’t exist where I am at, and I have to find an adequate substitution. This has happened several times. IÂ wanted to make Tacos for Vanja’s family a fewÂ years ago. Taco shells, salsa, cheddar cheese, and iceberg lettuce could not be found anywhere at that time. Still, many of the items are not available in the newly built mega markets there. Next, it was a tiramisu. I wanted to treat his mother for a special occasion. The lady finger biscuits are completely different, the eggs are completely different. I knew to sneak my own tiramisu into the country, but it was definitely a challenge to get the consistency and the flavour I was happy with. So, the baklava was a new challenge, but lucky me, there are all kinds of phyllo dough for sale in most corner grocers in Belgrade. Of course, I used the one that was made just for Baklava. It was definitely thicker andÂ hardier than the multipurpose one-kind-only phyllo dough we find in our grocery stores here. The walnuts were so fresh and delicious.Â Â Walnut trees are commonÂ throughout the region, but if you don’t have a tree, the nuts are very expensive to buy. The nut grinders? Ancient. The sugar has larger crystals, but behaves the same as a generic granulated white sugar at home. I worked on it all morning. Focused and eager to pleasure this lovely little family with a treat from their own culture made by me!
Did I mention it was over 40 degrees that day? Thank God for air-conditioning. Lori thought I had lost my mind to want to do this on such a hot day. Honestly, it had never entered my mind. Silly me. When I am focused and determined, I lack more than a bit of common sense, it seems.
I was proud of myself. It looks really good, don’t you think? Well, admittedly, everyone’s palate is different when it comes to such treats. Lori thought it should be much wetter. I like mine drier, but moist, like this. I think if I had known how she liked it, I wouldn’t have done it that way, anyway. I don’t know how, and it would have felt like I was ruining a beautiful thing.
Odd how that is. Anyway. I did it, they did love it, and I was able to leave it behind for them after we left the following day. I was really happy about that.