09 May 2006

Traditional Serbian Meal

Hanging from a pole beside the road, a lambskin curled in on itself. A blackened squared log main building and several outbuildings—all tile roofed, even the well. Two roasting pits: one standing on its own; the other one, far larger, under its own roof. A blackened stump, uprooted, from a large tree, a wooden-wheeled cart displayed in the yard. Half a dozen cars parked in the yard.

We're on a roadtrip to see the countryside of Sumadija and the kings' hilltop mausoleum in Topla, have been there, walked in the crypt and the hilltop forest. Then we slowly drove back towards Beograd.

The roadside restaurant-dinerbarbecuee is where Pedja wants us to eat lunch. To eat a real Serbian meal. Authentic. Not some fancy Beograd restaurant's approximation thereof. We're here for traditional roast lamb rotated on a spit above a charcoal pit until done then left to cool.

Four outside tables with sun-bleached African savannah animal tablecloths and benches. Five long tables inside plus a small corner bar setup. Garlic, dried paprikas and flower wreathes, and horseshoes above the door and windows to keep vampires at bay. An outside tap for washing hands and face.

We start with both Serbian and šopska salads (mixtures of ripe tomato, cucumber and onion but šopska also has paprika and cheese), fresh bread, Jelen Pivo, spicy-hot roasted green Hungarian peppers with oil and crushed garlic over top. The lamb, carved from the chilled whole roasts, is served on one kilogram platters. We clean two platters of it, and everything else on the table. Salt rubbed in the outside crackle. The lamb was so incredibly tender. What a feast!

While we ate and talked, I watched a boy, the son of the family, clean ash from the large roasting pit, then build and light a fire for today's roasting a lamb. Across the field, his father hauls a lamb into a shed . . .

T-shirt: Simple; free your mind
loc: Novi Beograd
temp: 17 C, bright overcast
sound: jets from Beograd Intl Airtport, basketball on the court outside Gandijeva 193, Cartoon Network, Aqua Park Beograd construction site equipment

26 April 8:30 pm

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Joe, glad your trip is going well and you are probably home by now. My book launch went so so although all 9 people who showed up, baught a copy. I only had one left so Suzanne at Goose Lane got her copy, I will mail your copy this week. Safe journey, hope all is well. Wayne Ray