By Alexandra Cheney
BELGRADE, Hours after committing to lose weight, Belgrade native Maša Miljanić states “I can’t eat anything without bread.” Bread is the mealtime constant in Serbia; it could never be the victim of a dieting purge. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner it’s on the table.
Bread is immediately available wherever you turn. Bakeries , “пекара”, or Pekara, can be seen on every corner throughout the city. My local, small, and unassuming bakery offers a plethora of choices ranging from delectable, flaky pastries to multitudes of fresh baked rolls, all of the golden color palate. Walking in a scented cloud of fresh bread embraces you. Speaking to the bakers on a Friday morning, we are regularly interrupted by costumers quickly ordering their bread with purposeful knowledge.
The easiest way to highlight the innate quality of Serbian bread is in describing the deceivingly simple hleb, your normal everyday loaf. While being defined as white bread it is nothing like the Wonder bread famous at home, nor the ever recognizable French baguettes. Roughly the size of an American football, this round loaf is cut into thick, hearty slabs. Thin, crispy flakes fall when you slice yourself a piece. The color of the loaf is akin to a light toasted caramel, yet the inside remains a clean ivory. The bread is firm and soft, springy to the touch. There’s a slight chewiness to it, remaining significant and substantive, a bread you can rely on.
Personally, I have fully immersed myself in this passion for bread. Regardless, I make a point to savor each piece as it comes, because I already know returning to the States will only broker disappointment in the bread aisle.