Coming from Former Yugoslavia, I ate some weird foods growing up!
But I’m not the only one, you know!
Not too long ago, the Husband bought Fruit Loops during our weekly grocery shopping. When I asked what the hell he was doing, he explained that he was a grown ass man and he can eat Fruit Loops if he wants.
As I was wrinkling my nose in disgust, he asked if I’ve ever tried Fruit Loops. I reluctantly admitted that I hadn’t.
But I also didn’t want to because I was pretty sure they were gross. And so, after much coaxing, I tried a spoon. And honestly, that shit tastes like detergent!
My taste buds like weird (European) foods
Although I was nine when I moved to New Zealand from Yugoslavia, and have spent most of my life in NZ and Australia, there still many Australian foods that I turn my nose up at. There are definitely foods I didn’t grow up with (i.e. potato chips, corn chips) that I can never again live without.
But it got me thinking about the way I eat and what’s ingrained in me because the place I was born. When I go back home, my diet consists of tomato, cucumber, and MEAT CHEESE MEAT. And bread. Lots of bread. If you ever go to the Balkans, find a place called a ‘Pekara’. It’s a bakery. You’re welcome.
Weird Foods you grew up with
So, let’s talk about some foods that you grew up with that I found (and may still find) weird:
Wtf is this even? Yeast extract? Like, is that even legal? To be fair, when I was younger, my friends thought it’d be hilarious to get me to try a spoon full. I now know that was a mistake, but at the time, I thought it was like Nutella (or Eurocrem to us). Booooy, was I wrong! I still most definitely do NOT eat Vegemite. You want to know a good way to ruin a perfectly good meal? Vegemite.
This shit is also weird and I refused to try it for the same reason I refused to try Fruit Loops. But about a year ago, The Husband forced me to try some and whatdayaknow, it wasn’t bad at all. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it’s pretty fucking delicious.
Look. I’ll eat it now and again if I’m at someone’s place for dinner and if it’s on the table – but I definitely find gravy from powder gross. It’s just not normal. KFC gravy though…….
I like to chew my food and sometimes the random meat I can’t chew through in meat pies freaks me out. The first time I tried meat pie, I tried to convince my mum it’s a real food so I can buy it for lunch at school. I found the weird bowl of meat in pastry surprisingly not tasty. Even now, I’m still more likely to just eat the pastry and squeeze the mystery meat out.
For one, when I was growing up, bread was not square. So strike one sausage sizzle! But the combination of the bread, bbq sausage, onion, tomato sauce and mustard – it’s a winner. Even I can’t complain about that. One of the best meals of my life was a sausage sizzle at soccer watching my nephews play (I think it should be said that I was pregnant and starving at the time – but I still remember the warmth and happiness). And let’s face it, most of us only go to Bunnings for the food…
Weird Foods I grew up with
Now let’s visit some foods that I did grow up with that you may love or hate:
Vegeta isn’t a food as such, more like an enhancer – to everything. It’s a vegetable stock, but I’m not even kidding when I say that we literally put it in EVERYTHING (aside from sweets, don’t be silly). We’ll put it in/on meat, on potatoes, in soups, stews… And if you don’t have a 250g pack in your pantry right now, there’s just no point…
An oldie, but a goodie. Remember, in European winters, you need to eat good fats to help you survive (and, it was FUCKING delicious).
I get that I ate it and if my mum made it I still would, but there’s no fucking way I’m cooking that for my family. And if you’re thinking “GROOOSSSS”, then ask yourself when the last time you had pâté was??
Basically what most of Yugoslavs are made of. Burek is our version of a pie, it’s pastry stuffed with meat or cheese or spinach and cheese or potato. We normally eat it with yogurt (but the yogurt is runny, like Buttermilk here).
Best way to describe cevapi is like small skinless sausages. We have it in something closely resembling turkish bread, with fresh onion and depending on who you ask, with cream cheese and ajvar. I would pay good money for cevapi, any time, anywhere.
Cabbage soups, cabbage stews, pickled cabbage, meat cabbage rolls (some of you may know this as sarma), veggie cabbage rolls (although, these aren’t too popular), cabbage salads, cabbage pies (kinda like burek but not really)…. As you can see, we eat cabbage everything.
There you go…
Hope you enjoyed this trip down weird foods culinary lane. There are plenty of quintessential Australian cuisines I’m yet to try, and some I will forever refuse to. But if you’d like to set me a challenge to try something new, I’d be happy to give it a go.
Please be reasonable, I’m not going to try witchetty grubs. I’m no Bear Grylls.
Thanks for reading and until next time, PEACE.