Belgrade, Serbia (VIAnews) – Cooking is one of those things which can provide great joy. Whether it’s a hobby, a way to impress friends or your soul mate, cooking can also be a great way to express your creativity and learn something new. But, what if this small pleasure could get you into trouble?

In Servia, fine wining and dining are highly appreciated, but one condiment takes the cake. It’s so delicious, so rich in flavor, and popular for the rich and the poor alike – the Ajvar. With its striking red color and unforgettable taste, it’s hard to resist its charms.

The Ajvar has been part of the Serbian cuisine and tradition for a very long time, all the way from the Ottoman time. It’s one of the most typical winter foods prepared for the cold days. Spread out on a sandwich or listed in the menu of a fancy restaurant, the ajvar plays an important role amongst today’s Serbs.

Serbin Ajvar. Photo by Jelena Todorovic.
Serbin Ajvar. Photo by Jelena Todorovic.

The magic potion used to create this wonderful, mouth-watering condiment is peppers. Red bell peppers, more precisely. You might start wondering what the commotion is all about over a single ingredient. Be warned, in order to prepare this masterpiece, it takes a hard day’s work.

The main part of the process is roasting. The peppers have to be roasted first, then peeled, ground and, finally, poured into jars. This whole preparation process can be seen as a get-together of friends and neighbors, as they gather around the fire.

In today’s modern cities, where large-scale apartment buildings have replaced the traditional house and backyard, the preparation of Ajvar has encountered a few obstacles. In order to achieve the full authentic taste, the best option is to roast the peppers with fire.

Many Serbs solve this problem by roasting them outside – parks and free space around buildings serve as perfect roasting venues. There are many problems with this solution, for starters, the smell of the roasted peppers can be intolerable for some. Especially the elderly, that have no choice but to close their windows for a couple of hours.

Another problem, a more serious one at that, arises when the fire gets out of hand. Unfortunately, it’s not the first time someone loses a life or gets hurt due to a cooking accident.

Recently, an entire building was set on fire in the city of Bor, in eastern Serbia, as a result of pepper roasting. A couple of tenants set their building on fire after roasting peppers in the building’s garret in Cara Lazara street. Thankfully, no one was harmed. Another source claims that the woman who had been roasting peppers till the late hours of the night caused the fire when an unnoticed burning coal fell out of the roasting pan while she was in bed.

Not only can this piece of gastronomic luxury cause physical problems, it can cause some legal issues as well. Not long ago, a married couple from Serbia was arrested in Canada for roasting peppers in their yard. A married couple Goran and Anica Aleksic have been living in Canada since 1989, and had never encountered problems until now. Apparently, one of their neighbors was not a fan of the smoke and smell and called the police. “Firefighters came to us in the yard, and then the lawsuit arrived a few days later”, Goran Aleksic explained.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here