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Are you ready for a place where history, tradition, nature, adventure, relaxation and gastronomy are equally awe-inspiring? A complete hidden gem in Europe and unbeatable all-inclusive destination for all your senses? A place where local cuisine is so delicious that it easily dethroned McDonald’s? A place where people always find a good reason to celebrate and enjoy the life? Get ready to be spoiled for choice and amazed by the flavours & the energy of Banja Luka.
If you are a food debutant, you need to know that this region is a “No Mac’s Land”, hence the local gastronomy here is different from the rest of Europe. That much different that you will rarely see those dishes in your countries. However, if you are a food connoisseur, you are already aware how hard is to resist those delicious temptations. No wonder that foreign visitors gets extra weight during their stay in Banja Luka.
Unlike in the rest of Europe, in this region there is a long tradition of growing food locally (in families), and predominantly organically. Furthermore, there is a culture of purchasing fresh vegetables, fruits, milk products, eggs, meat & fish directly from the producers, or in the open markets. Also, cooking at home is an ultimate way of living. It’s all about eating good & tasty food.
In Bosnia & Herzegovina, a country of strong grilled meat culture, this is the unofficial national dish and every place has its own secret recipe, that results in different tastes. The city to try the most delicious ćevapi and the most beautiful ones is by far Banja Luka. These rolls of minced meat, grilled on coals and served inside a fresh flatbread called 'lepinja' (with a side serving of raw onions) are to be consumed with a natural (homemade) yoghurt (no soda please!). You will not eat better ćevapi anywhere else in the country or in the whole Balkans. Being a sort of art, ćevapi are a mouth-watering upscale fast food.
For the locals, grilled meat might be the first choice when eating outside, but slow cooking plates are the absolute winners when it comes to homemade dishes. An extensive assortment of soups called ‘čorba’, Bosnian stew, sauerkraut leaves stuffed with minced meat called ‘sarma’ or peppers stuffed with minced meat, just to name some of them. On the top of this comes the meat (veal, lamb) slowly cooked under the iron bell-shaped pan named 'sač'. For special occasions, people like to prepare another mouth-watering traditional dish – a lamb or pork roasted on a spit.
Do not be surprised if someone offers you a strong drink before your meal. When I say strong, I mean locally produced brandies called ‘rakija’. Here, it is not considered too strong, but just warm & cosy drink. Traditionally, many families are even nowadays producing their own rakija, and the varieties are limitless – with plums, pears, apples, grapes, etc. And with your meal, you will have a hard decision to make - tasting excellent local wines or a famous Banja Luka beer called ‘Nektar’.
Whether a foodie or just a curious traveller, when in Banja Luka don’t expect anything but extraordinary gastronomic experience. One thing is sure – after you try local dishes and drinks, you will understand why McDonald’s could not survive in the city of supreme flavours. Bon appétit!
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