Serbia: Culinary business culture in the Western Balkans

Do you want to do business in Balkans? Be prepared for an extensive culinary experience with your local partner!

The cover of the cookbook Food Beyond Borders
©MM

In the Balkans, business proposals and offers will be discussed and agreed in the office, just like anywhere else in the world. The only difference is that the real “deal” will be made over the dining table. Also, one should be aware that time has a different pace in Balkans. People take their time when working, eating, drinking…

Western Balkan countries have a holistic approach to the food in general. Lying in the crossroads between east and west, the region accommodated many different nations and religions over the centuries. A combination of different traditions can be felt and tasted in local specialties. The cuisines of the Western Balkans countries are a synonym for slow food: home-cooked meals, based on traditional recipes, using traditional kitchenware and ingredients from autochthonic breeds and varieties. Traditional small scale farmers are the ones preserving autochthonic plant varieties and animal breeds therefore contributing to the richness of the culture and tradition of the whole region.

It is a firmly established belief throughout the region that a good meal is a homemade dish, prepared from fresh local agricultural products. Thus, one should be prepared for a bonfire of gastronomic delights when hosted by locals. When dining with a Balkan partner, one can learn a lot about the culture, tradition and history of the region over a single meal.

“When in Rome, do as Romans do ” - And when in Serbia, eat ”ćevapčići, a delicious, finger-sized roll of grilled minced meat. Do not be surprised when offered a similar dish under a different name in some other country in the Balkans. Good eating habits are similar throughout the region. Sides may differ contributing to the special flavor of the specific location: in Serbia you will get them with “kajmak” and in Sarajevo they will serve them in a bun with sour milk. Chopped onions are a universal standard.

The cookbook "Food Beyond Borders" is a practical guide for gastronomic alchemy and a collection of typical traditional specialties from the Balkan region. It was published as a part of the project “Support to Economic Diversification of Rural Areas in Southeast Europe” implemented by GIZ and the Standing Working Group for Regional Rural Development in South Eastern Europe.

Enjoy discovering exceptional Balkan recipes, and remember, take your time!