serbian heritage: culture and cuisine of the past

Everyone who knows me, knows that I have a fine appreciation for cuisine. I love savouring each and every taste and discovering how the flavours complement each other. I love understanding the preparation method of the dishes, why certain ingredients go better together than others… and more than anything, I love admiring a beautifully plated dish. Quite simply: I LOVE FOOD. So when my friend suggested a visit to the exhibition of Serbian cuisine – who would say no!?

The exhibition is located at the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade and showcases our national cuisine. It starts off with a historical corner from the 19th century, displaying the equipment used to cultivate agriculture, as well as traditional methods of preparing daily food staples such as baking bread.

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The food and beverage industry has exploded in recent years spanning a diverse range from fast food to fine dining, and yet, when you look back globally 200 years ago – food meant survival. With us Serbs however… food and drink is an occasion. We are not an “on the go” type of population, we would much rather sit for hours indulging in a delicious meal and scrumptious wine talking and laughing until it’s time for the next meal.

Moving through the hall,  5 colourful tables caught my attention- each one representing a different region of Serbia and showcasing what kind of cuisine can be found here. And then I wondered: why is there no tasting!?

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The exhibition also very beautifully portrays a traditional table setting served for Slava – a Serbian Orthodox custom of celebrating the anniversary of the family’s baptism into Christianity and honouring the family patron saint.The table shows traditional elements including the Slava bread and wheat which are specialties prepared only during this occasion. (I will share more about a traditional Slava soon).

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Being a part of the hospitality industry and working with food and beverage professionals has really opened my eyes into what this industry has become, and yet visiting exhibitions like this make me really appreciate how food and beverage has evolved from a staple of survival to a passion. Serbian national cuisine is really something to be experienced, with every region offering diverse unique delicacies.

Located in the same museum is the permanent exhibition of the national Serbian culture in the 19th & 20th centuries.  The ground floor displays national costumes which have been worn by different inhabitants in the Balkan region. It was fascinating to see the differences in the costumes ranging from an everyday outfit to a wedding outfit, worn by the Serbs, Bosnians, Montenegrians and Macedonians – and how much detail and intricacy went into making these costumes.

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The top floor of the exhibition takes you back in time to the different houses of the 19th & 20th centuries ranging from rural to urban houses; each reflecting it’s geographic and historical location. I was very excited to see how the architecture changed from oriental style in the early 19th century, to a more European influence at the beginning of the 20th century. The exhibition also showcases tools and equipment used in the agriculture, viticulture, fishing, hunting and beekeeping industries.

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The museum is open all year round and is a great place to learn a little bit more about the heritage and traditions which have shaped Serbian culture through time.

Stay tuned for the next postcard coming soon from Belgrade’s Bohemian Quarter!

Visit information:

  • Ethnographic Museum official website: www.etnografskimuzej.rs/en
  • Working hours: Tuesday – Saturday from 10am – 5pm & Sunday from 9am – 2pm.
  • Ticket prices: RSD 150 for general admission, special rates are available for students, pensioners,  groups and guided tours.

 

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