Bosnian Eats in Sarajevo

Not knowing what to expect in Sarajevo meant I didn’t know what I was about to eat either.  I arrived late at night, almost 11 pm, starving from being on a train all day.  I wandered into an almost deserted old town when it hit me.  Wafts of sweet hookah smoke and a 24 hour burek shop serving up pita, not the flatbread but the greasy phyllo dough filled pie.  The filling is rolled into the dough and then the dough is either laid out in straight rows or rolled into a coil and cut into pie like slices to be sold by the piece or kilo.

Such a large slice of meat burek that the tip had to be cut off and put on top before being doused in yogurt sauce. Just in case you didn’t have enough yogurt, the traditional drink to have with this is more plain yogurt.

While I ate at many buregdzinica shops, I often did so late at night so the pita were sitting out too long and not as crisp as they should be. So the best one I had was at Buregdzinica Bosna at lunch when they brought out this piping hot pumpkin (looked more like zucchini) burek with a flaky, perfectly crispy crust giving way to a soft steamy interior. Oddly this is the only time I didn’t get yogurt sauce.

Now it seems quite obvious that I would see some stuff similar to Hungary and the rest of the region mixed in with the delicious influence of Turkish food.  I still struggled with my budget but still found some tasty cheap eats to be had, particularly at the various pita shops and ascincas (cafeteria).  I just couldn’t resist all the delicious meaty things.

While I struggled to find a decently priced delicious stuffed pepper or cabbage in Hungary, I had no such problems here. The lady at Ascinica ASDZ noticed I was not a local and made me a sampler plate of everything.

Quite the opposite from the very modern Ascinica ASDZ was Ascinica Hadibajric with its tiny wooden interior.  I showed up near closing time (noon on a Sunday) in an effort to beat its progressively earlier closing time on weekends.  Either way the Ascinicas seem to be mostly a lunch event and are mostly closed by early evening.

One delicious veal chop, creamed spinach and beans. The nice lady refused my request for tripe though, saying it wouldn’t play well with the others, to trust her.

One of the most famous dishes of the area is cevapicici, little grilled sausages shoved inside a pita like bread with optional baseball sized cream cheese and onions. This is also traditional eaten with drinking yogurt. It is tasty and fast but a bit dry. After trying two places, I prefer Cevabdzinica Zeljo over Hodzic.

[748] The adorable stone streets are lined with lots of stores selling the same tourist crap you see everywhere but here there was a refreshing number of metal smiths still making copper coffeeware and burek pots by hand.  This picture darkened the window where you could see ancient equipment in use.

The weather wasn’t great while I was in Sarajevo so I found myself often ducking into places when it really started pouring.  One such time I ducked into a busy cafe I noticed earlier in a courtyard, full of what looked like students.  As the rain fell in sheets I sat down on a chair and was asked if I wanted something traditional.  Not a moment passed when someone would recognize a fried or colleague in the room.  It must be a place to see and be seen.

A traditional Bosnian coffee, coconut Turkish delight, and baklava. You drink the coffee the Bosnian way by dipping your sugar cube in the coffee briefly, then biting a bit of the dunked end off, and drinking your coffee. Somewhere in that complex method, you find time to eat your sweets.

The adorable stone streets are lined with lots of stores selling the same tourist crap you see everywhere but here there was a refreshing number of metal smiths still making copper coffeeware and burek pots by hand. This picture darkened the window where you could see ancient equipment in use.

Only later on my walking tour did I realize I had ducked into Cafe Divan, occupying the courtyard of the oldest surviving example of an Ottoman era inn.  Getting out of chocolate cake town would’ve been good for me but there are still tasty desserts to be had.  The best one is tufahija, a poached apple stuffed with a walnut filling and topped with a whipped cream topping.  It was hard to find but our walking tour guide finally told us Kuca Sevdaha was the place to get one.

I did end up cooking a few meals as this was pretty heavy fare. Luckily my hostel not only had a great view of the National Library, but the windows were lined with grapes still on the vine! This particular bunch looks pretty decimated because I’d already eaten a bunch.

Not having any expectations means I was rather pleasantly surprised with the meaty food of Bosnia.  Now I wonder why Chicago is the only place in America with lots of this type of food, I think Los Angeles could use some sausages, burek, and yogurt sauce.  I’m already planning how much burek I can take with me when I pass through Sarajevo again on the train.

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1 comment
  1. Jenn said:

    loved this post. and wow, this is the fourteenth month of your blog. rad.

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