Monday, August 4, 2014

Off My Feed

I felt unwell, too tired to eat, so on the first day of the annual ethnic food fest I lay on my living-room floor looking up symptoms on my phone, diagnosing "adrenal insufficiency," and was too tired to drive to the food fest and not hungry. The second day was the festival's final day and either I went and got the food I grew up with and would normally walk ten miles for, or would have to wait until next year.
So I went, waited in line, listened to accordion music, and watched the hall full of people dine and revel. I got a plate but had no appetite, so had it packed to go and here you see it, brought home, along with an extra box of cookies and a pair of four-cheese pastries purchased to tempt myself.  Normally I'd eat everything here plus seconds. I had a few bites and put the rest away.

I've posted about being Polish, but I'm half Serbian and grew up on this food. These old-fashioned dishes can be made only from scratch and are hard to make well. Greek food comes close but is far from exact. From top right: two inch-thick golden squares of gibanitsa, a four-cheese pastry made with filo, specialty of my godmother, Hristina Spasojevic; she used to make extra pans full because I said I liked it. The swirled pastry is homemade poppy seed roll with a rich, milky dough, not a bready one. Beneath it, a collection of homemade cookies made of ground walnuts, cream cheese dough, chocolate, butter, powdered sugar, with a piece of honeyed baklava. To the left, three cabbage rolls, called sarma, stuffed with ground beef and rice; four grilled Serbian sausages, made and flavored sort of like gyros, but better, called cevapcici; and Serbian-styled potato salad (with a mild, not vinegary, vinaigrette, potatoes sliced thinly, and green onion) and coleslaw (like Italian, has garlic and no mayo and is never wet). I did not take the Serbian bread (pogacha; cognate of focaccia) or the sliced white onions that go with the sausages.

One major difference between Greek and Serbian food: Serbs didn't grow olives or use the oil; they used butter. I didn't taste olive oil until I was 23.

Now it's 9:30 and I'm going to bed. If I don't feel like eating these things tomorrow I will call the undertaker.

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