Posted on March 7, 2011 - by

Good Food Around the World: Bosnia

This week, FRESH will be screened at the EKO OKO Environmental Film Festival in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Let’s take a peek at food culture there. Idemo!

Bosnia sits in the intersection of Eastern and Western food cultures, and draws inspiration from the cuisines of the Mediterranean, Middle East, and after many years of Austrian rule, Central Europe. Thus, you can find everything from Bečka Šnicla (wiener schnitzel) to dolma (grape leaves stuffed with rice) to pistachio-studded halva.

Meat dishes usually involve beef, lamb and veal, often from local farms. However, pork is more difficult to find. A large portion of the population is Muslim, and the rest of the country is comprised of Serbian Christians and Croatian Catholics. Although Muslims do not make up a majority, the influence of their dietary habits is far-reaching. That means you may also have a hard time finding beer and other alcoholic beverages.

One local specialty is ćevapi, considered a national dish in Bosnia. Minced beef or lamb is seasoned with Hungarian paprika, shaped into small sausages, grilled and served with pita bread and onions. Other popular dishes include burek (flaky pastry dough filled with cheese, meat or vegetables) and sarma (stuffed cabbage rolls).

If you are visiting over the summer, don’t forget to pick up fresh figs! Locals and tourists alike dig into these pink-fleshed gems of honeyed nuttiness. And if you give in to gluttony, there is no need to hide your shame with a fig leaf.

Sarajevo, capital city of Bosnia and victim of the longest siege in modern warfare, has blossomed in the intervening years. The city has always been known for its plentiful water fountains, which quench thirst and supply safe, clean water for free. Visitors are invariably drawn to Baščaršija, nicknamed “Pigeon Square” for the semi-permanent avian presence, where a Moorish fountain stands out from the surrounding buildings, with its elegant teal dome and latticed sides.

Turned off by the piles of pigeon poop at Baščaršija? Dodge the trams, cross the street and head towards the taxi stand to the other fountain, which is outfitted with benches and is blessedly feather-free. Take a few minutes to sit down and chat with a local, as you wash your figs from the tap and soak in the sun.

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