Yesterday, I visited a small Balkan foodshop and restaurant in my city. i had driven past this European Store and Balkan Grill numerous times, but never stopped. But I had been missing those unique Bosnian-Herzegovina foods, and started looking for a restaurant in my area. There are just two, but this one also has a food store. So, off we went on a cloudy stormy day.
The minute I opened the door, I felt at home. I greeted the owner as I would in BiH with a smile and an upbeat “Dobar Dan.” He replied, looking up from the World Cup match on the small television. the first thing I saw were packages of Eurocream cookies and wandering around, the teas, coffees, jams, and red pepper preserves that I thought I would never find here. There was something about the atmosphere that reminded me so much of Mostar. Perhaps, it was the size of the shop, small but crammed with items. I found kamjak! I cried to my husband. We bought packets of cookies, chocolate with puffed rice, and soft cheese spread.
Then we went for lunch. Again, there was such a feeling of BiH there. A television in the corner was broadcasting the news, and a few other customers stood around this small take-out restaurant. The service was relaxed, and pleasant. Each dish was carefully prepared by hand. of course, here this relaxed service is slow and frustrating to us who zoom and zip through drive -in coffee shops, but it was a pleasant change. The food was brought to us, and we ate as slowly as we wished.
It is the small things that set apart a culture. In BiH, it was customary to pay only after one had consumed a coffee or food. bu there, we typically pay for our food at the counter. So, once again, we were taken back across the sea when we paid at the end. In BiH, it almost felt like paying was a tedious aspect to the whole interaction. Or perhaps, in BiH, the service people were much more professional about the exchange of money for service. One was expected to enjoy one’s coffee, meal and so on, and the bill was a necessary but trivial part of the whole.
How nice again to each some Shopska salad and bread.
The only thing missing from the atmosphere was the absence of clouds of cigarette smoke.
And then I forget the word for “goodbye!”