The Serbian word for tomato is one of the easiest to remember: paradajz. It’s roughly pronounced like paradise, which is exactly what it tastes like right now. Serbia is one of the world’s biggest raspberry exporters (random fact!) but it really should look into exporting tomatoes, because these babies are incredible.
It seems like a good tomato year, because stores are practically giving them away. This photo was taken in July, but recently I saw tomatoes being sold for 15 dinars a kilo–people, that’s 10 CENTS a pound. Don’t get too excited, though. Usually the markets sell them for a whopping 25 RSD/kilo, or 17 cents per pound. Going to the market right now is like landing on Mars and seeing free diamonds lying around. Edible diamonds.
Of course, tomato season won’t last forever, so I’m trying to enjoy them whenever possible. I have elaborate plans of making a vanilla-infused tomato and citrus tart one day, but I get lazy/don’t have the right ingredients/am suddenly hungry and wind up enjoying them in their perfect form: the shopska salata.
If you’re in Serbia between May-October and don’t get a shopska salata, you should be arrested. Or pitied. It’s the world’s best salad, with nothing but tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and hot peppers, topped with a Serbian cheese that tastes similar to grated feta. The cheese is much better than what’s normally available in the States, though I imagine there are some cheesemongers–I love that word–who make a high quality feta that will do. And if you’re in Serbia, one shopska is large enough to be dinner, unless you’re with Muz, who believes that there is no such thing as a meatless dinner.* Yet even meat-loving Muz agrees that tomatoes in Serbia are simply paradise, I mean, paradajz.
True story: He once said to me, “This dinner is good, but don’t think I didn’t realize it is vegetarian,” as if lentils were horse meat or something. He was totally ON to my healthy eating TRICKS, you see, and he wasn’t going to let it just slide by. Genius. Though to be honest, I was hoping he wouldn’t notice.