Trip to Belgrade and Sarajevo in December 2022

I ate my first pljeskavica when I was 27 years old. It was in 2008, my friend Yurets and I walked into a simple street-food kiosk near the Savelovskiy train station in Moscow. That kiosk was owned by a real Serbian woman, who was not only a chef but also a cashier and a waitress. Pljeskavica is a traditional part of Serbian cuisine. It looked similar to a hot dog or burger: a puffy pork and beef patty, that was cooked right in front of us over an open fire, in a freshly baked bun with either onion or garlic sauce that perfectly complemented the taste of the meat. At that time I remembered this food as the best street food I had ever tasted in my life. I never ate this pljeskavica again; I changed my job and this place became too far away for me, and then this kiosk went out of business.

I can’t say that since then I’ve been fanatically hunting for the place where I can taste exactly that pljeskavica from 2008, but I order this meal every chance I get. The first disappointment was that the original pljeskavica served in a restaurant is just the patty, but the bun is an extra added to the street-food version of this meal. The sauce I remembered is also not a traditional companion to the meat but a speciality of that first eatery. I tasted various pljeskavicas in Russia in several restaurants and street-food kiosks but none of them was right; not the same fresh and puffy bun, not the same patty and the completely wrong sauce.

And so, now in December 2022, I decided to take a trip to the Balkans. In terms of the weather, it’s far from the best time to visit the Balkan Peninsula, but there were three reasons why it wasn’t so important. Firstly, I had to take a vacation before the end of the year (otherwise, by German laws, it would simply burn). Secondly, I got the chance to see my old friends who recently relocated to Belgrade. And finally, and perhaps most importantly, I got the chance to taste a traditional pljeskavica cooked by authentic Serbian chefs. This gave me some hope that I would find my ideal pljeskavica like the one from 2008.

The first stop on my trip was Belgrade, then I flew to Sarajevo and finally returned to Berlin with another overnight stop in Belgrade. In my original route I also had a stop in Tirana, Albania’s capital, but AirSerbia changed their flight schedule shortly before my trip started and this change made it impossible for me to get to Albania this time. I’ll share my impressions about the cities later, but for now, I’ll continue my story about hunting for the perfect pljeskavica.

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