Vegans and Vegetarians, book your ticket: it’s Lent in Belgrade!
For many Christians, Lent is a sobering period; a time for sacrifice, self-reflection and repentance. But if you’re vegetarian or vegan in Belgrade, it’s the best forty days you’ll enjoy all year. Don’t put away those mardi gras beads, herbivores! Laissez le veg temp rouler: make like a tree and leave for the nearest Belgrade kafana.
Lent is one of several “fasting periods” observed by the Serbian Orthodox Church (and other orthodox churches). Fasting makes me think of starving in a desert or that awful pepper/lemon juice diet. In Serbia, it just means being vegan: no meat, eggs or dairy. Some websites claim that people abstain from alcohol too, but my unscientific polling of local bars has proven otherwise.
If you’re looking for a vegan meal during lent, keep your eye open for the word “posna,” meaning lenten. Many restaurants will feature a posna menu or are more willing to adapt a dish for this purpose. This menu, from a kafana on Makedonska, features soups, pitas (vegetable pie), and what I interpret as muchkalica, which is a pork and and pepper stew (but sans pork, I presume.)
Not only will your arteries thank you for a posna meal, but you may earn the right to pass through the pearly gates. According to the Serbian Orthodox Church website, “Abstinence from foods (fasting) alone is a means of attaining virtue.” Though I suppose this only counts if the vegetarian is a member of the Orthodox Church. Oh well.
For any Beogradjani and visitors looking for veggie foods during and after Lent, I highly recommend the delicious take-away spot Lila, on Palmoticeva 5. They also deliver and have a menu in English. Finding Lila was like finding a unicorn drinking champagne out of the holy grail, after winning a lifetime supply of awesome shoes.
I never thought I’d say this, but thanks to Lila, I’ll be partying like it’s Lent all year long.