Zimnica

conserve zimnica

Grape harvests and wine making, grilling paprika and making ajvar (a relish made of red bell paprika), preparing turšija (pickled vegetables) and zimnica (food for winter), picking plums and making rakija…when you see it and smell it, and hear the music coming from celebrations and festivals – only then you know that autumn has arrived in Serbia.

Once the days become shorter and evenings start hiding in the mist, and colorful fruits ornate trees and bushes already turning yellow, there are particularly good reasons in Serbia for celebrations. At that time autumn starts spreading scents, flavors and colors from its secret treasury to indulge all the senses.

conserve zimnicaFor generations there is a habit of treating autumn fruits in a particular manner, especially when they are used for making food and drinks that over centuries have become such a significant part of the Serbian tradition.

Grape harvests, grilling paprikas and making rakija (Serbian national drink, a kind of brandy) have almost become true traditional rituals, and with time competitions, celebrations and entire festivals with hundreds of thousands of visitors have appeared grown around them.

These magnificent manifestations that last for days, embellished with tradition, music and exceptional traditional Serbian cuisine (food and drinks) appealed to numerous visitors and guests from around the world. And by adding the almost innate hospitality and warmheartedness of people of Serbia, the most beautiful memory one can take home is brought to life.

Whether you’re in a village or in a city, streets and alleys become impregnated with smell of paprikas and a subtle sent of burning that will last the entire September.

Paprikas are smoking on old stoves in the backyards and women are making a variety of relishes made of this vegetable that has such significance for us: pindjur (a relish similar to ajvar), boiled, marinated and torn paprika, ljutenica (a hot relish similar to ajvar), and wreaths of paprika.

conserve zimnicaThese wreaths of paprika are particularly interesting since, long after being made and hanged on walls of houses to dry, they act as ornaments and when the time comes, they are used for making hot spices.

Its majesty – ajvar – is what particularly inspires Serbian women to compete in making the best one. Spicy or mild, this relish made of grilled and then stewed paprikas is one of the most favorite dishes in Serbia.

Traditionally the best ajvar is the one from the Leskovac region. It is said that people from Leskovac know exactly on which day to pick paprika, and that seems to be the very secret of the most delicious ajvar on earth. That is why locals here organize the “Paprika days” – the competition in preparing specialties made of this vegetable.

“Side by side” with ajvar comes plum jam. In autumn when branches become heavy with Serbian favorite dark purple fruit, men make rakija, the famous šljivovica (slivovitz), and their wives make thick jam, slatko (a sweet preserve) and kompot (a sweet preserve made of stewed fruit and sugar).

And while the smells of stewed fruits mix with the smell of the early autumn evenings, another fruit, that every corner of our country abounds with, is waiting to be picked. Drops of purple and golden grapes are being transformed into the best wines. The way to do it is a secret kept by winemakers, but everyone is invited to the grape harvests.

conserve zimnicaThese folk manifestations have been treasured with such care that they also fascinated numerous poets. “…Ao berbo, tebe žalim kletu, ta šta lepše od tebe na svetu…?” (Hey harvest, I feel sorry for you damned, as is there anything more beautiful in the world than you…?” – Branko Radičević, the famous poet from the town of Sremski Karlovci, posed this question having in mind the grape harvest in his birthplace, on the slopes of mt. Fruška Gora.

Sremski Karlovci, Smederevo, Vršac, Palić, Oplenac and Župa grape harvests are just some of the most visited grape harvests in Serbia during autumn. The second half of September is their time. That is when people from all parts of the country visit the winegrowing regions – to see off the summer and welcome the autumn with music and a glass of local wine that in Župa is even poured from a fountain.

Delights of Serbian gastronomy, tradition and customs during autumn do not end even during the Indian summer in October, as the time comes to dry and smoke meat in special storage rooms and make the best ever pršuta (a dry-cured ham).

Wine casks, buckets with turšija and colorful jars in storage rooms will patiently wait for winter to come, and we’ll be waiting impatiently for the holidays and “slavas” (patron-saint days) to come, and then we’ll enjoy the fruits of our autumn labor and raise our glasses in their honor.


Text copied from www.serbia.com

City of Leskovac

In the heart of the Leskovac valley, on the small river of Veternica, near its point of confluence with Southern Morava, lies the city of Leskovac. Its punjab (meeting point of five rivers) is a very rare geographic phenomenon in the world. Leskovac has some of that, so historically, it was place of meeting for many people, folks and customs. However, it kept recognizable spirit – witty, quick, sharp when needed, and inhabitants full of life who have thousands of jokes about themselves.

Leskovac is first mentioned as a settlement in Glbočica region, which was given as a gift to Stefan Nemanja from Greek tzar Manojlo in 13th century. Dardanians, Avars, Celts, Romans, Byzantines, all of them lived, led wars, and left traces here. Archaeological remains from that period have been found on the hill of Hisar and nearby area. Those collections are in Leskovac Museum. One of the most well-known locations is Queens City Justiniana Prima.It was built by Byzantine emperor Justinian as a sign of gratitude to his place of birth.

LESKOVAC

The thing for which Leskovac is famous for is Leskovac grilled meat, made from special beef and spices mixture. The original recipe is kept secret, and still hasn’t left the city. Leskovac Grill Festival an homage to this kind of food. It is a seven-day festival which attracts large number of visitors every year. Every august, a smoke cloud is spread from Main street with beautiful scent of ćevaps, burgers (pljeskavica), sausages, meatballs, mućkalica and other grilled delicatesses. Main attraction is making of burger for world Guinness record, the biggest in the world. It is made every year by grill maestros during the Grill Fest.

Septembar is the time for making of “zimnica (winter food). Central, almost ritual event is making of ajvar (side dish made of peppers). Leskovac region is a big producer of quality pepper, so ajvar is made in almost every house. That day, friends gather in backyard for talk and glass of rakija ( Slivovitza ), and with beautiful smell of baked peppers, this speciality is made. Every housewife is proud of her ajvar, so wherever you go, you will get a jar.


Interesting things about Leskovac

• Leskovac got its name from the hazelnut tree (leska), more than 600 years ago. In middle ages it was called Dubočica (swamp), and in Turkish era it was called Hisar (fortress).

• If you are invited to a wedding in this town, two days before the ceremony all the female guests go to the „combing“, a one-of-a-kind, emotional bachelorette party, which is a unique tradition that dates back from ancient times. This is just one of the many customs that cannot be found in the other parts of the country.

• Standard sizes of Leskovac burger (pljeskavica) are „five-ćevaps sized“ (small) and „ten ćevaps sized“ (big). So, the locals have a saying in their spirit: „Five ćevaps are always five ćevaps, but five-ćevaps sized patty is never like five ćevaps“


When you try all the specialties, you can stroll to city park and Toma Zdravković monument, the legendary singer and bohemian from this region. Near is Shop-Djokic’s House, an old building from the Turkish period, which has original look, furniture and objects preserved inside.

Leskovac is surrounded by near the city and easy accessible natural beauties. Vlasina Lake’s floating islands are an eye candy, set in relaxing area which was inspiration to many poets and painters. Kukavica Mountains great for hiking. Its forests, creeks, wells and rich animal and plant life represent the true, untouched nature. Sijarinska banja (spa resort) and its hot geysers and spa centers will make you relaxed and healthier.

Leskovac today is a city of green energy. Complex water systems, solar energy facilities and active recycling enables healthier and safer life in the city. Leskovac also holds a clinic by Dr Miodrag Stojković, world famous scientist, which is specialised in area of artificial insemination and sterility treating. People from all over the Europe come here for therapy.

You will be touched by the hospitality and openness of people of Leskovac and you’ll want to stay just a little bit more, so you can hear another story of old Leskovac, learn some new word or eat five more ćevaps.

How to get to Leskovac?

Leskovac is 275km from Belgrade. You can get to Leskovac via highway E75, after the exit which is approximately 37km after Niš. You can also take one of the regular bus rides from every bigger city in Serbia.

While you are here, do not miss…

-International barbecue days (begins the last week of August-until mid-September)

-International film directing festival LIFFE (every september)

-Making of zimnica, especially making of ajvar in every households at the beginning of autumn

-A great number of taverns throughout the day, and clubs during the night will set you for the unforgettable southern entertainment.

-„Leskovac Summer“ and „Leskovac Carnival“, festivities that are held during the summer. They attract great number of young people and they offer wide range of cultural, entertainment and sports activities


Text copied from www.serbia.com