Thursday, February 4, 2010

Eating and drinking

Photos from Sarajevo are now posted on

This little store is, indeed, our supermarket. It’s located just 2 blocks away and is in the ground floor of an apartment building. There seems to be one just like it or very similar, every few blocks. In some, the fruit and produce are displayed on the sidewalk, but our local market has an unheated covered area.
The citrus fruit has been fantastic. The oranges we have bought in this little market are much better than any oranges I have bought in Portland. Ever. We learned they are likely from orchards in areas of Croatia and Montenegro near Greece. The fresh produce includes potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms, oranges and tangerines, kiwi fruit, and grapes.

Most of these neighborhood markets are about the size of a 7-11 store, but of course carry more real groceries than snacks and candy. Our market carries almost no imported foods and goods. Nearly everything is Bosnian or from one of the countries that formerly made up Yugoslavia. Bosnia is not part of the European Union and it could be that taxes on imported foods would make them too costly to sell here. However, we did find Hellman’s mayonnaise on the shelf, and of course, Coca-Cola – but not Pepsi. The spice shelf is limited to dried oregano, dried parsley flakes and according to the drawing on the package, possibly dried celery flakes? I bought the oregano. We also found Barilla pasta sauce in jars, and Barilla pasta. We made spaghetti the other night and it’s wonderful; a much tastier jarred sauce than what I’m used to. But there’s no parmesan cheese to be found in Bosnia.

The corner markets carry produce and grocery items and have a small deli counter where they sell fresh bread (ok), sliced deli meats of undetermined nature, and sliced cheeses. They don’t carry any fresh meats. The sliced cheeses are excellent although there are only three kinds: Edam, Gouda, and unknown. We haven’t yet tried unknown. We stumbled earlier by buying some packaged cheese from the small refrigerator case. One looked like a swiss or jarlsberg type cheese, the other seemed to be molded in a small wheel. Both turned out to be highly pungent – not bad exactly, but certainly to be eaten in either very small quantities or perhaps as a seasoning. At least to our unaccustomed palates.

In addition to the corner markets, there are two huge farmers markets in Sarajevo that operate 7 days a week – even now. Both are under bridges or highway overpasses. The other Americans here call them green markets and I think many if not most vendors are actually small entrepreneurs that likely get produce from the same source as the markets, but with lower overhead. Some of the stands are really like a tiny store and have a permanent booth with merchandise inside. Others are a few items set up on boxes. There are also meat markets here, where you can get lamb, veal, beef and chicken. Because Sarajevo is mostly Muslim, no pork is sold – at least in any of the meat markets we have seen so far. According to my Bradt tour book, all the meat here is essentially free range. They don’t have corporate farms or feed lots, it’s just a lot of small family farms.

The local pivo (beer) is excellent; the local wino (wine) – not so much. Our landlord gave us a bottle of a local red wine that was ok. But we were served a red in a restaurant that was wretched and we bought a bottle in a wine shop that was undrinkable. The restaurant was on a list from the US embassy as being one of Sarajevo’s better restaurants. We thought it might be a very long six months for us until Landy found a wine shop in one of the green markets. This wine merchant carries local wines but also had some Chilean and Argentine wines inside his “shop”. He said he had some California wines, but the bottle he showed Landy was from Montana! Is that close to California?