A rare visit to the green market this morning gave me some inspiration on what to write about in my next post. It also reminded my how much I actually love green markets - now. During my first extended period in Belgrade I would avoid the green market like the plague and the communication which would have to take place with Serbian villagers, as I was still rather shy speaking Serbian out loud in the so-called real word, far away from the comfort of the five person audience of the classroom. I preferred to go to the supermarket, in particular C Market or Pekabeta (sadly, they do not exist any more - it's all MAXI, MiniMAXI or SUPERMAXI these days), where one could pick one's fruit and hand it to the weighing woman without uttering anything more than an almost inaudible 'hvala'.
Now, for those of you have never seen a green market it truly is a fantastic place. Cheap, colourful, fresh fruit & veg are plentiful, almost literally straight from the ground or picked from the tree. You buy them from the hard-working, scarf wearing, worn and weathered faced seljaci (peasants or perhaps more nice sounding villagers). Would you like 1kg of grapes for 70p? How does 1kg of fresh juicy strawberries for a measly 50p sound? You're all being so ripped off in Sainsbury's paying 3 quid for 250g of crappy strawberries! Plus, you can buy clothes, shoes, toiletries, cosmetics, household items and electrical thingamajigs (mainly imported from Bulgaria but that doesn't matter). I really should go there more often than I do, but it's just so much easier to go the supermarket!
Serbian food at first glance can seem so basic, simple and perhaps rather stomach-turning. Any one fancy some 'bull sex-glands', or 'cow brain' which I once saw on a menu. I distinctly remember my first visit to a typical Serbian restaurant, not one of those fancy ones. I didn't understand the menu so well, so I just ordered a pljeskavica (a burger) and was quite surprised to be looking at a plate ten minutes later, with just a hunk of meat and some raw, chopped onion. It's only been in the last 6 months that I've learned to love Serbian food, particularly home-cooked, and now I can't get enough of it. Sarma, roasted peppers, musaka, djuvec, cevapcici, pljeskavica and stuffed peppers. Serbs love to grill food, or as it's called here - rostilj.
It seems to me that meat is of such a higher quality in Serbia, fruit and veg too - it's all natural, very little pesticides and chemicals are used and mass-farming of animals is not done here (or at least to my knowledge it isn't). It's all so much tastier here.
(Sarma - minced mean and garlic wrapped with sour cabbage)
Serbia also turned me into a chocoholic, more so than I was back in the UK. Lots and lots of cheap chocolate of all varieties (I'm sure Lara remembers it all very clearly). My favourite being:
Unfortunately, they have a very bad sounding name for English speakers (it's properly pronounced nob-leet-seh). I can eat a whole box in one sitting (thus I usually buy two boxes at a time!)
You can get all kinds of fast food here, on virtually any street corner and at any time of the day or night. Burgers, sausages, chicken, pizza or even noodles (Wok to Walk - similar to Wagamama opened recently in Belgrade, with outlets only in Spain, UK, Netherlands and the US), oh and pancakes! Ah, pancakes (more like crepes than the small, thick British ones), the best thing about Serbia (perhaps). With some kiosks offering more than 300 different combinations of fillings - from chocolate or nuts to ham and tuna) you are bound to find something you like. My particular favourite being banana and caramel. Trust me; you definitely won't go hungry in Serbia.
(Mmm, looks tasty, right?)
Now, all this talk of food has made me hungry, so I'm off to MAXI (it's closer than the green market by a couple of hundred feet).