Burek: A Warm Welcome to Belgrade

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Sunčica holding a freshly made burek in her Belgrade apartment.

By Maeve Rogers

BELGRADE,

Burek will stop you in your tracks the first time you smell it. A strong aroma hits you, taking over all of your senses, causing a momentary halt and a deep inhale. You may be unsure of the source of the smell, but it will be recognizable as something greasy, cheesy, and… good. That’s burek.

There is nothing better to usher a stranger into a city, home, or day than a few bites of burek- crispy arms outstretched, ready to engulf you in a warm, welcoming bliss. Imagine layers of crust that to the blind eye could be French bread- yet hidden inside are chunks of cheese paired perfect amount of grease, dancing across your tongue, into your stomach; a golden brown, carb-loaded delight the beacon of light to lead you into your day.

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Cheese dripping onto home made burek.

A Belgrade native, Bobi, boasts that it is “fitting to warm and invigorate a person before they begin their day of work.”

It is a cuisine adopted from Turkish culture, with roots in the Ottoman Empire, and is very much engrained in daily life in Belgrade.  Equal parts savory and sweet; burek is a favorite Serbian breakfast or treat, available at any of the bakeries sprinkled on nearly every corner. Walking down the streets of Belgrade, you will notice burek in the hands of many passersby. Eaten both in the comfort of the home and on the go, burek is sold in strips and served in crisp bags that can barely contain the grease.

There’s one more thing that makes burek so comforting for locals.

“Burek is the best way to cure a hangover,” says Belgrader Dragan.