One can tell that modern day Serbia was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, not only in the architecture, but also from the food.
There seemed to be a bakery or sandwich shop on every corner in Belgrade. We went to a modern one built in wood and with space to sit. Some of the ones I saw on the street seemed to be more of a walk up style.
The pastries were much like in the Viennese traditional (in Danish, danish pastry is actually called “Viennese bread” as that is where the traditional stems from). In a small town near the Hungarian border, I had a sandwich made with a simple unleavened flatbread.
There is quite a cafe coffee culture here as well but the local coffee was topped high with whipped cream. Reminded me of that time I had Sacher Torte and had to ask for it “mit schlag” — with cream.
Every culture has a dumpling and one of the dumplings of Serbia is called a “knedle.” It is a round fried ball filled with, traditionally a plum, but now made with chocolate and anything else one could imagine. The dough is boiled first and has the consistency of a matzo ball or thicker.
I was delighted to see “potage” on the menu because as I am a bit of history buff, I had seen shows about medieval cooking where everyday the peasants at potage which was anything they could find to add to their pot. In Serbia, it was a thin delicate soup. At the place we had it, it was served in mini cast iron pots. Adorable.
We had other soups as well that were simple hearty soup that for some reason is not so easy to find in many restaurants. At least not in Rome.
Another classic food is meat stew. Served with pasta and sour cream on top. Very hearty.
They have Greek salad here, but their Serbian salad is called “shopska” (spelled differently but sounds like that) which means “hat” because the salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers, has a “hat” of shredded fresh cheese which is a bit like cream cheese.
Another food here is polenta (maize/corn) and I had it served as cakes topped with shredded meat. Before I lived in Colombia and Venezuela, I did not really like polenta or arepas or anything made out of cornmeal but now I have a hankering for it once in a while.
I like dairy products and one of the traditional types here is a cultured product that I think is made from the whey, a bit like kunefe in Turkey but more delicate. It was called “ayvar” and was served with toast and flossed pork.
As I hoped for, another local specialty is spicy pickled peppers, a bit like a banana pepper. One of the spiciest things I have tried in a while.
Then there is the rolled stuffed meat a bit like a chicken cordon bleu but this one was pork. The local slang term for it roughly translates to “a woman’s dream boyfriend” and it was about 10 inches long.
For dessert, one of the traditional items is called a snowball but it is more of a snow cloud or floating iceberg of meringue in custard.
Aside from traditional foods, Serbian food also includes pizza and gelato and all manner of international foods. More on that another time.