Food is a huge part of Serbian culture. HUGE. At every event there is a spread that would put the ancient Greeks to shame. While dating my wife I wasn’t exposed to much of it. We didn’t mix the holidays or do a lot of things with family, we did our own thing. My first introduction to the Serb way of celebrating was at a Slava. For those of you who don’t know, Slava is a religious holiday that is kind of a “Saints Day”. It is recognition of a specific Saint, on a day specific to that Saint. So, there are Slavas all throughout the year. So as rookie Slava attendant I had no idea what I was in for. They obviously knew I was a newbie and they swarmed. It was a non stop onslaught of food and drink. It never ended. I was still dating the wife at the time and didn’t want to look like a punk so I ate and drank everything they threw at me. It was quite a spectacle. And that’s the way it goes at everything. Christmas, Easter, weddings, Christenings, Thanksgiving, you name it. It doesn’t matter the size or scope of the holiday or event there will always be enough to eat, and there will always be someone close by to make sure you are eating.
Recently, while the wife and I were in Yugo to meet the family, we celebrated our first anniversary. Her family was very nice in helping us celebrate it. We had a very nice lunch with roughly 12 other people at BaBa M’s house. Uncle V’s wife worked her fingers to the bone cooking, all day. And for this lunch one of Baba’s neighbors roasted a whole pig and he brought it over on a tractor! That was my favorite part, the tractor. All the food was homemade and delicious. It was during this lunch that I started to figure it out. My plate was constantly being filled. If I finished something I would hear someone ask the wife something in Serbian, then she would lean over and ask me if I wanted more _________ (fill in the blank). And if I said “no” I was given some anyway. What I figured out was that I HAD to leave something on my plate and in my glass, or they would never leave me alone. No matter how it bad it made me feel to take food and not eat it, I had to. If I didn’t leave a full plate behind I would probably still be sitting there eating. Leaving rekija, beer or cognac in my glass was the hardest part though. Every fiber of my being says drink, drink, drink, but I don’t think getting wasted in the middle of the day would be the best impression to leave on new family.