the seasons in Serbia: part I

I’ve revised this a little and changed the title:

We’ve been in Belgrade nearly two weeks now. We needed a few essentials like oil, pepper, soap etc and so we went looking for a big supermarket. There are minimarts on all the corners but it took us three attempts to find a big supermarket, although I suppose that’s not too surprising as we’re in the central downtown area.

We’ve also been to the big Zeleni Venac market several times, which is heaps of fun.  The vegetable selection is not extensive – red peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes and bunches of carrot and parsnip for soup. But it is abundant, incredibly cheap and of very good quality. It is also almost exclusively Serbian, or at most, from other parts of the former Yugoslavia. They’re just as into their ‘local’ provenance as we are, with lots of chalked up signs promoting Leskovac peppers or cucumbers from Ub.

Interestingly, and in contrast to UK supermarkets, the supermarkets here offer the same selection of veggies as do the outdoor markets. There don’t appear to be any imported vegetables at all and so they really are operating in line with the seasons.

Seasonality seems to be the modus operandi in Serbia. The first time we went to Zeleni Venac, I wanted spring onions but, as The Man pointed out, there weren’t any because it’s not spring. Later that week, at a restaurant the waiter told us that saurkraut wasn’t available because it’s not the right time yet.

The Man and I were talking about what, then, would be available during winter. Would there be nearly 5 months of nothing but swede? It certainly makes me think about the amount of consumer choice I’ve taken for granted. To overcome the swede problem, many cultures pickle, bottle or otherwise preserve fresh food in summer for long winters and it’s still a relatively common practice in Serbia, particularly outside the big cities, to prepare a well-stocked larder.

Stay tuned for the next installment on the seasons in Serbia about ‘zimnice’,  winter preserves.

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6 Responses to the seasons in Serbia: part I

  1. Marguerite says:

    This question would be answered by going to one’s well-stocked pantry shelves and taking down the jar of bottled green beans and the jar of bottled tomatoes and adding them to the stew. Pudding would be the bottled apricots or pears or peaches with custard! I am remembering Balingup.

  2. Absolutely Mum! you are ahead of me. I’ll get the pictures loaded and the next post done soon, so you can have a look at a proper Serbian larder and how to make ajvar.

  3. Boba says:

    Hi Emica, You reminded me on one more reason why I was missing (still do) my Belgrade seasons…and September was always my favourite month when Belgrade was the most beautiful. What is happening with kajmak and Serbian white cheese these days at Zeleni Venac? Also, would be nice if you can find out about nowadays home bread making in authentic Serbian village (in old days, big round breads were made on Saturdays to have supply for whole week-no artificial preservatives and very tasty).

  4. Hi Boba! The white cheese at Zeleni Venac is still excellent. I like the young cheese most, with black pepper on fresh bread – yum! And they do still make bread in the villages. Lucky us, we were given a loaf at the weekend, a huge, homemade sourdough. Absolutely the best bread! I’m going to write about bread soon.

  5. miralaric says:

    During the 60s & 70s when I was a child, my grandma used to take me along to the piaza in Beograd several times a week for fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s one of my oldest memories and I remember seeing wasps hovering above mounds of green grapes and the plums she got in September were the best!

  6. Pingback: Australian Discovers Belgrade Seasonal Fruits & Vegetables | Serbia's Ambassador to the World

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