Through a convoluted series of events too complex and mundane to warrant discussion here, I was told that there is a rather substantial Serbian community in and around Hot Springs, Arkansas. Moreover, my source tells me the community has access to certain Serbian foodstuffs that one might not expect to find in an Arkansas town of just 36,000 (plus or minus) residents. And, if my source is right, a car wash and lube shop on the west side of town provides one avenue of access to said foods. I intend, soon, to check the accuracy of the stories I’ve heard—at least the accuracy of the report that I can find Serbian food at the car wash.
Until my recent illumination about things Serbian, I hadn’t realized that I have a deep and unyielding desire to try pljeskavica, burgers made with a combination of ground pork, lamb and beef, flavored with onions and garlic and salt and paprika, that is typically grilled but can be broiled, baked, or pan-fried. Nor did I realize how much I want to sample cevapcici, sausages formed with the same ingredients used in pljeskavica that are then formed into squat little sausages and wrapped in lepinje, a yeast-raised flat Serbian bread similar to a pita. Cevapcici are served with raw onions, along with kajmak (a mixture of sour cream, cream cheese, and feta) on the side.
I do not know whether I will find pljeskavica or cevapcici or lepinje or kajmak in the car wash, but I aim to find out. Even if I find only frozen Serbian sausages and ingredients to make my own Serbian food, I will be happy. Even though I lived in Chicago, a city known for a huge Serbian population, for four years, I don’t believe I ever ate in a Serbian restaurant; what a shame that I did not seek out Serbian cuisine while I was there! Ach, I am not one to cry over spilt milk; I will simply make up for the oversight by seeking some Serbian sustenance soon.
Fortunately, I’ve located all manner of recipes for pljeskavica and cevapcici (one and the same, except for manner of preparation) and lepinje and kajmak. And, while I sought those recipes, I found recipes for srpska proja, a Serbian corn bread, as well as a Serbian white bread called pogača. And I’ve found a recipe for ajvar, a sweet pepper and eggplant relish I’ve had and enjoyed before. So, it appears that I’ll be doing a bit of Serbian cooking at some point in the not-too-distant future. July is a good time for Serbian food, I understand. Of course, the rest of the months are just fine for Serbian food, too.