Read, Write, Run, Roam

The Legend of Loki


Belgrade has many legends, but there’s only one that managed to rally hundreds of people around the humble pljeskavica. Meet Belgrade Legend Sasa Mitrovic, the owner of the food stand Loki.

image source: Blic online

It all started over twenty years ago, when Mitrovic opened Loki in a public square near Kralja Petra. His food stand sustained Serbians with pljeskavica, cevap, and gurmanska 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A loyal following developed among hard-partying Beogrdjani emerging from bars at four in the morning. Loki became a quintessential Belgrade experience, like walking on Knez Mihailova or getting ripped off in a taxi from the airport.

But in 2010, the good times were coming to an end for the humble, green-roofed shack. Kralja Petra’s fortunes were rising–and so was the value of the land that Loki sat on. Based on rumor and my poor translation of news articles, it seems that Mitrovic didn’t own the land, but tried to claim that Loki had historic value that prevented a tear-down. Celebrities, models and sports starts called for Loki to remain on municipal land. Authorities were undeterred. A court ruled that Loki would be no more.

Beogradjani took to the streets to prevent Loki from being torn down. At least five police showdowns occurred. Workers, patrons, and Mitrovic himself formed human barriers to prevent the bulldozer from breaking down tradition. During the fifth stalemate, Mitrovic locked himself in his kiosk and threatened to light it on fire if the police dared to come any closer. He was subsequently arrested, along with 50 other people. Loki was later bulldozed to the ground.

Image from Blic Online

The legend doesn’t end there. Several weeks later, Mitrovic opened a new Loki not far from his old location. The new Loki was in a proper storefront that some claim Mitrovic owned for many years. It still stands there today.

The bulldozed area, as I best understand it, is now the home of a…Telecom Srbija hut. Sigh.

My question is, why didn’t Mitrovic use his storefront before things came to fisticuffs? Perhaps he wanted to thumb his nose at Belgrade authorities/prospecting real estate investors. Maybe he wanted to keep the storefront as a private bar for close friends. Possibly, he bought it in the months leading up to the court decision, knowing the Loki stand would one day be no more. Or maybe…he knew that a legend always needs a little mystery.

 

*For a proper rendition of facts, see the Serbian article about the arrest here. Information about the old Loki is scarce, so feel free to correct me/add your own impressions in the comments.  

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5 responses

  1. FiReSTaRT

    I had a couple of comments to make here..

    1) People were protesting the teardown as the court decision was under appeal, so the demolition was a little rushed.

    2) As you know, Loki’s not a McPuke’s or one of those typical fast food places. It’s a small family-owned BBQ place where the order takes a while but it’s worth the wait. The old location had a pretty spacious patio (more like a mini-park) where people were able to hang out, enjoy their drinks, have their smokes and yap it up while they wait. The new place doesn’t have 10% of the square footage inside and the sidewalk is not such a hot hangout as the city authorities would have you believe.

    By the way, you couldn’t have posted this at a better time. In a fit of nostalgia, I prepared about 3lbs of mix for ćevapi (3/4lb ground veal, 3/4lb ground pork, 5 cloves of garlic, a bit of baking soda, 1/2oz of salt, black pepper and some crushed chillies for that extra kick) last night and it’s been sitting in the fridge, just waiting to be thrown on the grill for 14 hours now 😉

    August 2, 2011 at 3:29 pm

  2. FiReSTaRT

    P.S. My apologies for the poor metric-imperial conversion and even poorer math.. 1.5lbs of each type of meat 🙂

    August 2, 2011 at 3:31 pm

  3. No apologies needed–I have become a metric convert, though most American readers are not. 🙂

    August 2, 2011 at 5:19 pm

  4. Excellent points, thanks. I can attest that the sidewalk is definitely not a hang out, unless you include the conversation waiting in line. And a HUGE hvala for the cevap recipe!!! Baking soda is a totally unexpected ingredient. I don’t have a grill (apartment living) but hopefully I can replicate this at my parent’s house when I get back to the states.

    August 2, 2011 at 5:23 pm

  5. FiReSTaRT

    Baking soda makes’em plump up but putting too much may make them too hard. It’s a balancing act. Also, you can use Vegeta instead of salt but don’t put too much. Better to modify the ingredient amounts to “to taste”

    August 3, 2011 at 4:47 pm

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