Serbian for foreigners is not known as one of the easiest languages in the world, but it’s far from being impossible to learn. Moreover, once you learn the basics, this language will grow on you and will seem rather ‘yummy’. Keep reading and find out why.
There is a story that we often hear from our foreign students: they come to Serbia, enrol in Serbian for foreigners course, where teachers insist on grammar, overwhelm them with cases, while presenting Serbian as only slightly easier than Chinese, and they end up giving up Serbian for good… Or at least until they meet us at Queen Victoria Education where we give them a big warm Serbian welcome and introduce them to the concept of learning which will allow them to acquire Serbian naturally, with a focus on conversation and functional language. And they wonder: “What is functional language?” This is a combination of words and expressions which allows you to communicate in real-life situations, and is an ideal way to familiarize yourselves with both cultural and linguistic aspect of the Serbian language. Great! I can’t wait! Count me in, let’s begin!
What are the simple, real joys of life which could be shared with locals? Food, naturally, is the first that comes to mind. For the purpose of this article, we conducted a research on what foreigners like the most about Serbia, and 95% chose food, while for the remaining 5% food comes second. Serbian people love to eat, talk about eating, they also like to cook, bake, fry, and smother others with food.
So how about we teach you some food vocabulary that would come in handy next time you feel peckish?
Ajvar – crossover of caviar and pâté, made of red papers, used as a spread or as a salad (goes great with meat, pasta, and everything else). If you come across domaći ajvar (homemade ajvar), you have hit the jackpot! This means that somewhere in Serbia, this wonderful treat for your palate was prepared by a skillful grandma following a secret recipe.
Čvarci – also known as piggy bonbons by endearment. There are two types: basic and tobacco (due to their resemblance to dried tobacco), while in some parts of Serbia one might find a healthier version of piggy bonbons made of mangulica. If you can’t have a day without tobacco, opt for tobacco čvarci.
The third place is shared by two gastronomic gems: gibanica and proja. Gibanica (aka giba) is a form of pie made of filo dough, cottage cheese and eggs, while proja is made of corn flour, cottage cheese and eggs, and some secret ingredients of course. It can be served as an entrée, or it can be a great base to place your ajvarspread sprinkled with some čvarci – a true Serbian canapé. But something is missing…
Meso (meat). That’s right. We are proud of our slanina, kobasica, peglana kobasica, švargla, kulen, sudžuk, pršuta, pečenica…. Pure ingenuity in terms of both flavor and product naming.
So what do we have so far? Ajvar + čvarci + proja + meso = meze or iće (as in a phrase “nešto za iće i piće”meaning “to have something to eat and drink”), or “nešto za na zub” (to have a small bite, in the sense of having a snack).
Meze is just an appetizer, followed by čorba, roštilj (i.e. ćevapčići – a word we like to hear pronounced by foreigners simply because it makes us laugh to be honest).
This is your basic vocabulary kit that you can test immediately in any kafana when you decide to take a small break from sightseeing.
As you can see, it’s true that Serbian is not a piece of cake (don’t get me started on deserts), but it’s tasty. And if you want to meet people, find out how to interact with locals, practice the language and learn how to make a typical Serbian dish, you my friend are in for a treat.
Join us for our Serbian special Workshop on May 26 and have a taste of it all!
Price: 1500 RSD
- Date: 26.05.2018.
- Venue: Queen Victoria Education
- Time: 11 AM
REGISTER NOW HERE!
Dragana Kostica is the Belgrade-based editor in chief and founder of Still in Belgrade art, culture and club scene magazine. She holds a Master of Arts in Cultural Policy and Management in Arts (MA of Arts) and a Bachelor degree in Archaeology.