In order to experience a real, raw Serbian everyday life, and discover the most flavorful organic food that you have ever tried, you must visit one of the Serbian green markets. It is much more than just tables full of local products, and locals trying to sell it. They are the buzzing places and local centers of attention. A regular daily stop for busy people in their 40s, and a daily highlight and social event for the grandmothers and grandfathers, Serbian markets equally attract all the generations. In this story, I will uncover where to find the organic food in Serbia, and which Serbian green markets are the best to visit and get a sneak peek into the locals’ everyday life.
The original name “pijaca” translates to the “green market,” but is actually what Americans would call a farmers’ market. Unlike in the USA, where these organic locally produced foods are overpriced as a premium quality food, in Serbia prices are very affordable and usually much lower than in the supermarkets. Most of the vegetables are fresh, colorful and screaming “EAT ME.” Most of the sellers will allow you to try a bite before purchasing, being sure that theirs is the tastiest organic food out there. Most of the time you will find traces of the dirt, and vegetables not perfect in shape and size. This is due to the lack of use of chemicals and hormones for the growth. When nature does its work by itself, the food may not be perfect visually, but it sure tastes like a heaven.
There are more than 20 green markets across Belgrade. The most famous green market with an amazing organic food is Kalenic pijaca, a market less than a kilometer away from the St. Sava Temple, one of the most important sights in Belgrade. While strolling the narrow maze made out of tables selling all kinds of vegetables, fruits, and packed goods, you will be drawn to taste every bit of their domestic products. They don’t sell only the food, so you can easily end up shopping the clothes imported from Turkey, Hungary or even China. The sellers are friendly, mostly in a good mood, and they will do everything to convince you that their product alone is much better than others on the market.
Futoska pijaca is located near the city center of Novi Sad, in Jevrejska street, famous for its historic properties. It’s one of the best-known markets in Novi Sad and Vojvodina. It’s quite easy to lose a sense of time and money here, surprised by the too-cheap-to-be-true prices. As soon as you come close to the Futoska pijaca green market, you will be greeted by the sellers yelling the hardly believable price for sponges, potatoes, and candles, usually lower than one euro. The lively grandmothers will offer you their fresh organic food, the shifting tables will invite you to try the healthy whole foods, and organic strawberries, and hand-picked tea. Here, it’s a normal thing to take half an hour of your day to buy a pound of fresh tomatoes in the Futoska pijaca green market, only to come home two hours later, with food supplies enough to last two weeks.
Located between the main bus station and the historic fortress from the 18th century, lies the buzzing center of Nis community - the Cvetna pijaca green market. The optimal location guarantees that there will be a crowd when you go, and if you decide to slow down for a second, the chances are you will get pushed by the mass of people. You will find everyone here, the whole Nis in small: college professors and taxi drivers, old grandfathers and young mothers with kids, fancy ladies with retro hats and homeless people looking for some spoiled fruits. The Cvetna pijaca green market is a place where all the differences are left behind, and people join in a shared event and place that connects them into one society. It’s possible to find even some old furniture, old photographs, and branded clothes here. The luckiest ones, who know how to bargain, may even leave the place with a brand new designer jacket, paid a bit over three euros.
Serbian green markets are really a place that you need to feel. Even if you don’t know the language, and the crowd may sound overwhelming, it’s the best way to get to know the soul of Serbian cities. You can walk the aisles, and narrow rows between the tables, stimulated by the changing smells and sounds. There will be a baby crying, a grandmother swearing, plastic bags rustling and money rattling. And in all that chaos, you will experience something unique from the Serbian green markets: a real raw Serbian experience, so different from the Western sterile supermarkets, imported organic veggies wrapped in the plastic, and tasteless meats. When you find yourself wondering where to find the organic food in Serbia, don’t think twice, and head to the nearest Serbian green market - by buying there, you will support the local economy and surely enjoy the tastiest food.
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