New Friends and Lots of Food.

I am learning that the two go hand in hand in Serbia. 

Sandra, Zoran, me and Darko at dinner. 

I love this quote because it remind me that true community is not meant to be stagnant, but always changing and growing. In order to always be learning new things, even the most healthy relationships require a new perspective every now and then.

It is scary to make yourself vulnerable - to leave everything you know - to completely start over - to daily choose joy over sadness - and to search for new friends and new opportunities, but it is rewarding. I try to choose this attitude every day. 

Since our chance meeting over coffee at Plato books, Marko and Lela have completely integrated us into their community. Through them we have made loads of new friends. It is rare that I am ever alone at a cafe these days (unless I am bogging), but rather I am sitting with 8 new friends laughing and learning and simply being. Recently, Chris and I were invited to a traditional Serbian meal with Darko, Zoran, and Sandra. Darko is Lela's best friend (in the picture above, he is on the right), Zoran is one of Marko's coworkers at Plato Books, and Sandra is a sweet friend of theirs who now lives and works in Belgrade. Sandra is visiting Subotica for the week, and I was so glad that she wanted to spend time getting to know me and Chris over dinner. 

This is the lovely outdoor seating area of the restaurant; unfortunately it was too chilly to sit outside. 

The property was beautifully landscaped, and you can see the little door where firewood was added to keep the restaurant warm in the winter. Although they no longer heat this way, they have kept the restaurant as close to original as possible. 

Years ago, this dining area was reserved for the elite of Subotica. The peasants sat in the room where we dined. Of course you can sit anywhere these days, but I liked the cozy feel of the peasants room. 

If you have a truly traditional Serbian meal, you start it off with a shot of rakia. 

Wikipedia defines rakia as: "Rakia (also Rakija) an alcoholic beverage that is produced by distillation of fermented fruit; it is a popular beverage throughout the Balkans. Its alcohol content is normally 40% ABV, but home-produced rakia can be stronger (typically 50% to 60%)."

Once you receive your rakia, you raise your little shot glass, and individually toast every person at the table. It is  considered rude if you do not make eye contact with each person as well. I like that.

READY to eat - bibs and all!

Whenever you are served goulash (traditional Serbian soup that is served before salad and the main meal), the server will personally tie a bib around your neck. Just in case you get a little messy. 

 Here was the goulash of the evening. The broth is always fairly similar, but you never know what delights you will discover in your bowl. All sorts of veggies, carbs, and meats are added to different recipes. This goulash had carrots and (the best part) homemade dough dumplings. They call these "gomb-bots" or "fat little children." I ate so many of these doughy delights that I was stuffed when the HUGE main course made its way to our table.  

Look at all that food! I was thinking, that there was no way that five people would finish all of it! We got pretty close, but there were still some left overs. I have noticed that it is okay and almost expected that you leave some food on the table. I have never seen a Serbian scrape his plate; there is always more than enough to go around. 

Darko is admiring the meat display complete with bunny ears. Meat, meat and more meat! 

DIG IN! Everything was so good!

Dessert and coffee followed dinner. These are traditional little fried dough cakes covered in powdered sugar. I love anything that is made out of dough, so this meal spoke to my heart. . . errr, my tummy?

We finished the evening with another delightfully doughy dish. It looks like worms, but it's not. More noodles smothered in sugar and poppy seeds. I was in heaven. When I told my mom about this dessert, she was like, "Yeah, Lana, I used to make that for you when you were a kid." Maybe that is why I loved it so much. Serbian food is already in my blood. 

Thank you Darko, Zoran and Sandra for a great Serbian feast! We will definitely visit this place again! SOON!