eating in the balkans


First things first: this is a very rewarding region for travel, especially for those of us who are old enough to remember the breakup of Yugoslavia (both of us were in college at the time). We’ve had a lot of conversations with locals that I would not trade for anything.

Before our time here–which started in Serbia and Bosnia (after a few days in Zagreb, Croatia, where we landed)–I’d read about all of these meat-heavy dishes. Multiple accounts of “if you’re vegetarian… I’m sorry.” And it’s true: the inland Balkans are dominated by various forms of ground meat mixed with onion–their form of “barbecue”. Sometimes with a sauce, depending on the area: kaymak (a slightly fermented milk, which I often didn’t care for, even though many were like sour cream) or ajvar (this stuff can be the food of the gods–a dip made of roasted red peppers, roasted eggplant, garlic, onion, and spices). All of this served either in or alongside grilled homemade pita bread, which has also varied in quality among locations.

Now, at home, I don’t shun red meat, but I typically don’t eat it more than once or twice a month, due to a combination of health reasons (including the quality–I go for more expensive stuff to avoid Mad Cow prions) and cost. I go way overboard on fruit and vegetable servings at home. But the quality of produce in the local markets–both at actual grocery and ope-air markets–has left a lot to be desired. I am so spoiled, because I’ve also been to other parts of the US which aren’t as good as I have it, produce-wise!

So, let’s just say that, after the first 10 days or so, I grew really tired of this meat business. Some restaurants were somehow able to get a higher quality of tomato and cucumber (where? hook me up!!) for a salad, which I was lapping up. But aside from that… I’ve been mostly produce-starved for the past three weeks.

Funny, because 15 years ago, I would’ve looked forward to indulging on the really rich food while traveling, and who cares about that silly fruit plate. But both of us are craving tomatoes and citrus. Here in Kotor, Montenegro (where we are for a few more hours), we walked a little off the beaten path to get to a modern juice bar. I had a fantastic orange-mango mix. Hopefully I’ll find more things like that as we drive up the Croatian coast (more modern?)


2 Responses to “eating in the balkans”

  1. Finding the right things to eat when you’re away from home is always a struggle, but I’m glad you’re having a good time. 🙂

  2. 2 Steve Yool

    I concur it’s really hard to find your regular diet when on travel and, in addition, handling the time mismatch on the biological clock (body says ‘Wait, I don’t eat at this time at home!’)–but it sounds like you guys are having a blast! : – )

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