Andreas is feeling a little under the weather today. I’m afraid he’s fallen victim to Bosnian hospitality.
Our landlady, the vivacious Valida, and her husband Momar have a weekend house out in the country. It’s the long Labor Day weekend here (as it is most everywhere except the US), and they invited us over for a Sunday barbecue.
It was a gorgeous day. We took the streetcar to Ilidža and from there caught a bus that carried us past green meadows and flowing rivers to the little village of Osjek. There is a forest there with hiking trails; summer houses are set in clearings for gardens with vegetables and fruit trees, sheep pens, hay stacks, barbecue pits for roasting whole lambs, wading pools, and other amenities you don’t find in the city.
Over the course of the day, the six of us (their son Timur is the same age as Alekka) managed to consume a mountain of food: ćevapčići (ground beef shaped into sausage fingers; Bosnia’s version of the hamburger) with somun flatbread ; chicken and vegetable ražnjići (kebabs), veal ražnjići, sausages, steak, salads, cheeses. Every time we ate what was on our plates, our dishes were filled up again. Same with our little glasses of apple brandy… and pear brandy… and beer. Our pleas for mercy went unheeded.
At one point I had to ask Valida if I’d missed the chapter in the guidebook about Bosnian host/guest rules. Do we have to say no three times before they take us seriously? No, she said, just say the word when we are done. What that word is, we never found out. The feast went on, like Strega Nona’s magic pasta pot.
Several hours into this baccanalia I groggily hit on the idea that if I did not drink my little glass of slivovitz, then Mumar would not be able to refill it. I tried to pass the secret along but alas for Andreas the revelation came too late. Ah well, it’s nothing that a day in a dark room with pitcher of water can’t cure.