My mother always told me to never discuss my Serbian roots. “People will think you are dangerous,” she would whisper with narowed eyes. While it is true that the Serbs are a feisty race one cannot deny their beauty, survival skills, their passion for life and their weapon-sharp minds!
My glamorous Serbian grandmother who never went to bed without a perfectly made up face (if she died in her sleep she wanted to be found looking beautiful) always had a stash of homemade ajvar on hand. She swore that the vitamin C in the red peppers was responsible for her impeccable complexion and wrinkle-free skin.
Ajvar is a type of relish, made principally from red bell peppers, with garlic. It may also contain eggplant and chili. Ajvar originates in the Serbian cuisine, and was therefore long known as “Serbian salad” or “Serbian vegetable caviar”. It became a popular salad (side dish) throughout Yugoslavia after World War II and is nowadays popular in the Balkans. Original homemade ajvar is made of roasted peppers, while some industrial producers use cooked peppers, which leads to a lower quality. Depending on the capsaicin content in bell peppers and the amount of added chili peppers, it can be sweet (traditional), piquant (the most common), or very hot. Continue reading