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Serbian caviar

A jar of ajvar

By Correspondent Mirna Gacesa from Belgrade, Serbia.

Serbian caviar for cold winter time

There are so many unique and specific places in this world, but just few of them express such a presence of pre-winter pickled food preparation hysteria as it is a case in Serbia.

I have to admit that I like to eat all kinds of such food, but I have never understood such pressure and sense of obligation of Serbians, especially among older women.

When people come back to Serbia from their summer vacations, there is no time to take a rest before come back to offices. It is a right time to make a perfect and strong food for forthcoming cold days.

Ajvar, pindjur, ljutenica, which are made of peppers, tomatoes and eggplants, as well as pickled cucumbers, peppers, cabbage or rich vegetable mixture cold tursija are just some of the delicious winter food that are prepared in almost every home in Serbia.

The Ajvar is a national dish known as “Serbian caviar”. It is made of roasted and peeled red peppers, and sometimes with eggplant. There are two varieties of ajvar, sweet and hot. If you are a newbie ajvar-eater, you should try them both and pick your own favorite.
The process of ajvar preparation needs a lot of efforts of those who are making it.

Since I was a very young girl, I have used to make connection between the beginning of a new school year and pleasant smell of roasted peppers which lingered above the suburb where I lived.

In the past times such strong food during cold winter time had its own purpose. The people in the past used to live in old fragile houses spending their days by working hard in the yard or hunting in the woods. Women were staying at home, cooking the strong long-lasting meals for whole family in order to prepare a stock for the winter coldness and poverty.

Today the preparation of the pickled food is not just a part of Serbian tradition. It is a true and sincere competition among housewives, neighbors’ wives, aunts or even sisters. Whose ajvar or pindjur is better? What is a secret recipe?

Some of them don’t sleep until whole process ends, some take an additional day-offs to finish it, some call their own children to help them out and get anger when they are finding excuses to avoid it.

In Serbian villages there is still a nice custom which presents a wonderful occasion where women get together and socialize, and often even sing while roasting, peeling and stirring a mixture made of the peppers.

Although the ajvar is not that easy to make, it is very easy to eat it all before the first snow comes.


Mirna Gacesa Mirna Gacesa
My name is Mirna and I currently live in Serbia. I used to live abroad (New York, Sofia, Kigali) and I love to travel a lot, so I deploy a critical view of social streams and climate in Serbia at present.

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