You know, us Germans, we love a good hearty stew or a roast meat as dinner during the long winter days. We love our red cabbage, and we love to sit together for long evening when it’s dark outside and there is nothing else to do. And I have always loved those foods. Until I got to Bosnia – and found some winter foods I love even more!
I mean, there is stews, grilled meats, dolmas… I don’t particularly like winter, but they make my like winter – maybe a tiny bit more? Like: Sarma – who got this amazing idea first, to wrap minced meat and rice in pickled cabbage leaves? Whoever it was, he or she deserves a price for it. Because eating Sarma with mashed potatoes is the best thing ever when coming back inside from a stroll through the misty, cold mountains.
And then there are the čorbas. I don’t know what is different about them here, but they just taste like so much more. There’s more meat inside, more vegetables, more flavor… or maybe it’s just the landscape? Eating them, sitting outside a little restaurant in the middle of winter, warmed by the sun shining still warm on top of the mountains? Because the truth is: Sarajevo is miserable in winter, but the mountains are just gorgeous. I never thought I would become a hiker – but Sarajevo made me one. This is a story for another time though. Let me go back to the food…
Although it seems to me, the good winter food in Sarajevo is closely intertwined with the views. I cannot think back about this lunch we had in Bašča kod Ene – this delicious Pura, the Pljeskavica, the fresh bread and the sauces – without thinking of the view on Trebević mountain we had with it. I cannot not remember our afternoon at Čavljak, eating Uštipci, without also thinking about the glorious view of the clouds and the smog being stretched out below us – while we were sitting above the clouds. And then of course there was the time in Crepoljsko, where we were eating deer goulash, drinking beer, sitting outside on the terrace as if it was autumn – at the end of November.
Well…and if you don’t have any views, you have a nice wooden fire, crackling in the stack to keep you warm. Driving up the Olympic mountains to one of the cabins, drinking hot tea (or rakija) with a view on the cold countryside, all snuggled up warm inside – who doesn’t like that, winter lover or not?
First, I was afraid I wouldn’t get into the Christmas mood without the Germans Christmas markets, without the German mulled wine and gingerbread – but I was wrong. Sarajevo gave me a completely different kind of Christmas feeling (yes, even during the pandemic) and one that is much slower and more relaxed than the German way of running for Christmas.
Sarajevo gave me the mountains, the views, the fresh, crisp air outside – together with the warm goulashes, the sarmas and the fatty Uštipci. And I have to admit that I quite like it, this kind of Christmas spirit.