or What You Get When You Mix Serbia, Turkey and Germany in A Bowl
written by: Bojana Stojcic
After being ruled by the Ottoman Empire for centuries, Serbia today is, whether they like it or not back home, in many ways very Turkish, its food being like Turkey itself—all about deep flavors and overflowing with color. Our meals, or theirs, to be more precise, have to be abundant and spicy, prepared in large round pans or grandma’s pots to deserve the epithet “hangover food.”
Needless to say, I feel at home when I’m in Turkey as everything’s pretty much the same: politics dominated by conservatives, single-party regimes, authoritarian leaders, censorship and corruption, an overall feeling we’ll never become EU members because, let’s face it, we suck when it comes to equality, human rights and law abidance. What’s more, I don’t need a Google translate in Turkish restaurants since nothing’s much different there either: börek/burek with meat, cheese or spinach and yogurt for breakfast, stuffed grape leaves or moussaka/musaka with salad for lunch, late dinners with perfectly unhealthy and perfectly crusty white bread, lamb for holidays, baklava with walnuts or sütlaç/sutlijaš over the bitter-sweet sounds of instruments and voices and Turkish coffee, strong and unfiltered, any time. Yes, we are all about slow cooking, waiting and delays, minutes becoming hours becoming eternity, a time to savor every bite, every drop.
Bavaria, where I’m currently living, is, by contrast, all about Aktivität, rules and precision, and doesn’t have a problem with free speech at all, though it does mind loud talk, and we are rowdy people, having a soft spot for everything noisy. Germans are neat and tidy, folding in any overhanging edges, their whole grain bread, pork and Apfelstrudel baked to perfection, finely cut, and served on time. I don’t mind it one bit. It’s all quite yummy, however predictable or spice- and music-free.
This part of Germany is like their Eibsee you admire from a distance—beautifully green but too cold to take a dip. Something like: mix ingredients in a big bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate a few hours (the more the merrier), preheat the oven, bake until golden brown, let cool before serving and, mind you, the temperature can be pretty low here. However, it is here that I found out some things are much easier to make from scratch than I’d thought, like Apfelstrudel, which when filled with rum-soaked raisins and eaten with vanilla ice cream makes the most delicious winter dessert everyone will love.
And then there’s Serbia and Turkey that, however tactless and brutal, are what German tourists call a real thing when they pay for it—exotic and smokin’ hot, something like a chocolate lava cake, liquid fire oozing out when you cut into it, not meant to be served cold.
Bojana Stojcic writes in Germany, where she can be found playing with choo choo trains, watching Peter Pan and Fireman Sam, bitching about politics and losing herself in the rituals of chopping, stirring and tasting. Her poetry and prose have recently appeared in The Daily Drunk, Pandemic, Entropy and 11 Mag Berlin, and are forthcoming in GLITCHWORDS and Loud Coffee Press.