Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Leaving on a jet plane...


We've decided to go on a mostly-all-expense paid house hunting trip to the UK. Next week.

And we're going back to the U.S. for a week beginning December 23rd--delivering pupster Veli to Stu's parents for the duration of her rabies quarantine. (We all hate the UK for not being rabies-free and subjecting us to months of Veli-lessness.) This leaves us, what? A few odd weeks in Bosnia?

To combat panic, I've embarked on a radical retail therapy spree through Sarajevo. Trying to get those last minute odds and ends I always swore I would buy before I left. This would include filigree jewelry, carpets, and coffee sets. I also have music and movies on my must-own list. But I admit to doing pretty well on the movie front as I own much of what's been translated into English. For kicks and giggles, I just might buy me a blackmarket copy of Nafaka. I'm almost 100% sure it is free of English subtitles. Lucky me and my crap Bosnian.

I feel a little at a loss, musically speaking, but I've been curious about sevdalinka. So. I went on Amazon and searched for Mostar Sevdah Reunion . I figured the band was popular enough to be found on Amazon (it was) and that I might be able to listen to snippets of the music (I could).

And that's when I suffered my first Sarajevo/Bosnia withdrawal symptom. I listened to the song Mostarski Ducani (The Bazaars Of Mostar) and cried. It is beautiful, powerful, and totally Bosnian.


I gather the next few weeks will be hard.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My sweet obsession

Come. To. Mama.

I love these beyond reason. To the point of sheer gluttony.

It's almost blasphemous.

I've been on a desperate search for the recipe, seeing as I'll be leaving these shores in mere weeks .

Guess what I learned? This is not actually a Bosnian recipe!


Indeed. It's a knockoff of Raffaello. Sweet relief! I can actually buy them in England. (I better be able to frickin' buy them in England. Hear Me?) I doubt KLAS delivers.

Anyway. Before I learned about this Raffaello bit, my wonderful, beautiful friend Enisa dug up a recipe. I haven't tried it yet, and I'm a little flipped out because she mentions almonds at the very end, yet, almonds are no where mentioned in the ingredients section. Crap.

I plan to try the recipe next week, but, if any dessert maven out there in blogland cares to give it a shot before then, let me know how it turns out!

Hello Darling,

Here is a recipe for "kokosove kuglice":

100g water
250g. powder milk
50.g. coconut flower/powder ( I really don't know English expression)
250g. sugar
2 small bags vanilla sugar
250g. butter

Boil water, add sugar and cook it together on low temperature for a while about 10min.
Than add (in same dish) butter, powder milk, coconut powder and vanilla sugar.
Make it hot, to boil just one bubble.
Than, take away from temperature.
Let it to cool of and make bowls with almonds inside, and coconut powder outside.

Enjoy in lovely bowl!


Monday, November 27, 2006

Show of hands now...

Who's obsessed with You Tube?

Me, me, me, me!

I just found complete episodes of Coupling and the Twilight Zone as well as Rear Window in all of its full length glory.

Just because I'm so, so excited. Here's a little taste.

The rest you have to find for yourselves.

Free to be me. Coffee and social control.

You know, I've said this before.

But, now, it's really and truly official.

We're leaving Bosnia.

There was a question as to our staying, but the huz didn't get the job we thought he might possibly get. So, that's all folks.

I feel oddly calm, which is very unlike me. It's very possible that I'm in a state of shock and will curl into the fetal position shortly. I'll let you know.

I've been on the fence about the whole staying/going situation. I see pluses and minuses to both. But there are definite benefits to leaving, small though they may seem.

Would it be sadly trivial to say that I'm looking forward to going out to coffee by myself without the staring eyes of the multitude? In Bosnia, it's unusual for people, especially women, to sit down at a cafe. Alone. That pretty much guarantees stares from onlookers. It's unusual, number one. And number two? Bosnian friends often talk about "social control," the idea that you shouldn't stray too far from the herd, that you should be more "like" than "un-like." The tacit understanding that independence should be discouraged and sameness encouraged. It's a difficult thing for an American. I'm kinda accustomed to the notion of radical individualism. (For better or for worse.) In Sarajevo, I often feel that sitting by myself at a cafe is an act of social defiance. It's something I didn't notice in the beginning. Now? I've become too sensitive to cultural expectations. And try though I might to stray from the herd, the herd always leads me back. Those accusing eyes...

So. Yes. I'm looking forward to migrating back to the West. Here's to rampant individualism, independence, and coffee!


Sunday, November 26, 2006

I'm lovin' easy numberin'

I promise to throw my brain back into gear on Monday, after the last of the turkey induced somnolence exits my bloated body. (Yes, I know. Try not to dwell too long on that.) Until then, I'm using all available crutches.

1. Fog! Thick as pea soup in Sarajevo today. It's like Casablanca. But not.

2. The burning season has come upon us. It's the annual olfactory assault of burning wood, leaves, and other and assorted trash. My eyes burn and my nose hurts. It's a slow, yet painful, death for the environment, and, believe me, we mourn with it. It's probably best that we're leaving. If we were to stay, the cancer causing carcinogens would more than likely eat us from the inside out, leaving us little more than husks.

3. Hmm. Was it the fog or the smog that was thick as pea soup?

4. But, lo! Look how pretty Sarajevo is on a nice day. (View from our old house. Not too shabby, eh?)
5. I am inordinately excited about the copy of It's a Wonderful Life I'm ordering from Amazon. I know this has nothing to do with fog or smog, but I thought I'd switch things up. Make life a little more interesting. As I said, I am inordinately excited.

6. I'm marginally less excited about the blackmarket copy of Edmond we just bought. Scratch marginally. Let's say I'm definitely less excited. It was my movie choice, and now I'm full of regret. Just like Dogville before it, I fear I will want to slit my wrists by movie's end.

And, just like that, I'm done. Fin. That's all she wrote. Watch the cooked goose waddle off to bed.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Odds and ends in numerical form because I'm just too full tryptophan to make any coherent sense without a little structure. Did that make sense?

1. I would just like to inform all those folks who learned me how to strip and soften a live pumpkin that all turned out just fine. I made four loaves of pumpkin bread and have gads left over. Hello, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, and all other things pumpkin.

2. Does anyone else get seasonal dry scalp? Sucks, huh? (The only things that has ever worked is Neutrogena Stubborn Itch Control. It's magic. Magic.)

3. Why did I wait five years to read The Corrections? It's darn good. Darn good. This is what happens when you don't jump on the bandwagon with everyone else. You miss out on what's new and exciting and kick yourself five years later. Moral of the story? Embrace all fads and don't let the bandwagon pass you by.

4. Wow! Where did she come from?

I am officially a fan. That voice! Amy Winehouse, you rock.

5. Hey! The website Slovenia Welcomes linked to me in their Travelogues section. Why didn't you say, honey? I would have linked you back. Well, no problem. I will take care of that forthwith...

6. Done.

7. My husband's obsessed with Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music. Case in point. I made the tragic mistake of opening a Thanksgiving Day e-card (with a short musical interlude) while he was listening to Avalon. His exact words? "Why would you do something like that while I was listening to music? Why?" Yes, I think we're all a little concerned with the state of his mental health.

On that note, I will leave you, my public, to the rest of the blogosphere. I see my dog is doing the pee-dance. Before the tryptophan sends me into a coma, a trip to the fine outdoors is in order.

Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Day-After Shopping!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

'Tis the season...

...for charitable giving!

Confirmed Christmas nut in the house. Just broke out Bing Crosby's White Christmas to set the mood for a little Thanksgiving pumpkin-pie baking. Yes, I know I'm a twee early...

But it's my thing. Let it go.

As any good expat knows, it takes time for cards and gifts to reach loved ones overseas. Time, luck, ritual Satanism...But mostly time. I was just reflecting on the childlike innocence of my holiday cards--bought this year from the Cerebral Infantile Paralysis Association in Sarajevo--when I thought it was high time to do a seasonal shout-out to those organizations that need your money.

I would totally plug these folks, but I can't seem to find a website...Such is the case with these smaller organizations in Bosnia. But. If you want to take your chances, give them a call at 387 033 653-515.

Honestly, you're not too likely to do that. So. I've found you two other lovely organizations that work in Bosnia and could use a dollar or two: Women for Women International and BH Crafts. If you don't have much in the way of spare cash, holiday cards are generally inexpensive and a great way to give. UNICEF always has a holiday collection as do many smaller organizations.

That's my good deed for the day. And, by the way, feel free to plug any organization you like or have worked with in the past. Suggestions always welcome.

Happy baking!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Cevapi and porn...

I don't see the immediate connection, but Google did.

Hope you liked the blog you porn lovin' cevapi eater, you.

Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Of potholes and pickles

Clearly, these are not litigious people.

Otherwise, they'd never let this happen.

You almost lost me to a pothole the size of a small crater-shaped meteoroid, but I used my cat-like reflexes and fell into the side of a building instead.

And why in the world did I never learn to pickle things? I love the tangy taste of pickled cabbage and pickled peppers and pickled carrots and pickled pickles. Once again, Amela has made me feel sadly inadequate in the kitchen. Now, she just pats me on the head, wraps up a jar of pickled salad, and sends me home.

And, why, yes...Good eye. That is the old Mostar bridge in the background.

She's so creative...

We hate her.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

And this is why I don't volunteer

It's not a hard and fast rule, but, generally, I dislike it when people poke me in the stomach to get my attention. Husband, maybe. Best friend, okay. But complete stranger? Not cool.

I just spent my day selling raffle tickets for an organization that shall remain nameless. But. If I said the group's members were predominantly women of the expat variety, I think that may ring a few bells, particularly among the female expat crowd.

Just to cushion the rant, I will say that many of these women are very nice and truly want to raise money for GOOD CAUSES. And that's why I'm a member.

The others? If I was charitable and if I was a much better person, I would never ever think of saying things like, "name-dropping snobs," or dare I say, "bitches," but there you go. I'm not a much better person.

And this is why I don't volunteer. For this group. Not very much, anyway.

Why bother when someone decides based on, oh, who knows what they base it on...? When someone decides that you are not worth the five seconds of courtesy it takes to say, "Hey, J., could you hand me that ticket?" And decides to yak away to a friend, poke you in the stomach and wave her hand in the direction of the tickets.

Are you kidding me?

Lady, I don't give a flying flip if you're the wife of an ambassador (she wasn't), and, frankly, I think you'd have more manners if you were.

This kind of thing shouldn't stay with me as it does. We all know that these people exist, and as mature adults, we should move past it. But, darn it. It burns. It burns! And it's not cool.

So. I'm going to march my thin-skinned self into the kitchen and make a cup of tea. Then, I'll flop down on the bed, poke my husband in the stomach, and whine some more.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Mostar...The sweetest, saddest, most charming city in Bosnia.

Sorry, Sarajevo...

You have your charms, but Mostar has that lovely Mediterranean-esqe climate and those sleepy leafy tree-lined lanes. It's awful, darn purty. No worries, though, you're surlier, edgier, more cynical, and, on the whole, I think we understand one another best.

Of course, the hus and I have been through Mostar a number of times. You can't get to the coast without traveling through the city, albeit the outskirts. But we had been too lazy to stop, and, frankly, the drive is hairy enough. Once you're at Mostar, you think, "Fuck it. Another hour or so, and we're on the coastal highway. Let's move." I had been wanting to take the train down for ages, but it leaves at the crack-ass of dawn (6:25 a.m.). Finally, though, a few girlfriends decided to take the a.m. plunge, and, well, we were off...

The view from the train is amazing, and, sadly, dirty windows and a speedy train does not good pictures make. But, if you squint your eyes just so and put some imagination into it, you can see how lovely it is. Bosnia has some of the most beautiful mountains, and the change in climate between Bosnia (Alpine) and Hercegovina (Mediterranean) makes for intriguing viewing. The geography of the mountains change, less trees, more scrub. And, though you can't see it, there's the blue-green Neretva River that you follow for most of the journey.

As if you needed your daily dose of reality, there's always war remnants left here and there. It's especially sad when you think what a hub Bosnia was for international train travel in ex-Yugoslavia. Now, the trains are slow (but steady), and there's only a few lines left in Bosnia.

The old town is incredibly close to the train station. A short walk later (and, for the love of all that's holy, don't use the bathrooms at the train station), we were at the Mosque of blah-blah-blah. Like most mosques of Ottoman construction, it was gorgeous. And the view...?



Horribly horrifying...

The Cross on Hum Hill. In a city where the religious is often political, this was a particularly poorly planned piece of construction. I find it turns my stomach.

There has been so much reconstruction in Sarajevo that I was stunned by the remaining war damage in Mostar. Visually, it's a bit shocking. However. According to my friend, R., this is actually a vast improvement to what it was.

But, oh my. The Old Bridge. We were strolling down the cobblestones of the old town when we turned the corner to this...

And this...

It is...charming. Lovely. You can see why this was a honeymoon destination for people in the ex-Yugoslavia.

So, if you're ever traveling through BiH, do yourself a favor and stay a few days in Mostar. You can take trips out to Blagaj, Pocitelj, and Medugorje. You can't beat the prices. Poor Bosnia...Poor old sucky economy...

And take the train! Play the Kevin Bacon game like we did and the trip will be a snap.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Borat in Bosnia

Just returned from Sarajevo's very own twin towers where I saw the Borat movie. Ladies, gents, I think we can all agree on the following...

There's nothing funnier than two naked men wrestling. Nothing.


On the whole, we're really a shamefully backward, ignorant, and unsophisticated country.

You shame me, my redneck brethren. You really do.

For those of you who would take me to task for finger-wagging those poor stupid slobs caught on tape, well...Don't even think about it. I am not an elitist upper middle class sophisticate looking down benignly on the masses from my comfy, money covered trust-fund perch. My SoJo cracker heritage is all to real, and I embrace it. To an extent.

This is the extent. I am proud that my parents worked hard and taught me to work hard. This is a valuable life lesson.

But poverty is no excuse for such ignorance. I know, I know. Lack of access to quality education does tend to lead one down the path of narrow minded thinking. Believe me, I get it. I went to school in Franklinville, and my first checking account was through the Bank of Elmer. What does the latter have to do with the former...? Well, it provides context, my friend. Just flashing that bank card in college was enough for a laugh and the inevitable comment, "Whoo-hoo you are a hick, aren't ya?"

Well. Fuck you.

Sorry. Sorry. Where was I? Borat. Yes, yes...

So, we're at the point in the movie when that astonishingly dimwitted cowboy informs Cohen/Borat that he should consider shaving his mustache because he might be mistaken for a Muslim and blah, blah, blah, more Muslim bashing, blah, blah, blah...

The audience just falls silent, except for that tsk-tsk-tsk tongue clacking so popular in the Balkans.

Do you know, you moron, how that kind of offensive racist thinking impacts people? Well, look at the sixteen year old kid beside me or that sweet college girl in front of me. More than likely they're Muslim, and they can't imagine why some guy in Texas wants them dead.

This is hard, so hard, to watch because you know what? These people exist. They really, really do.

America, there is no excuse for this. How hard is it to implement some cultural competency in the curriculum?

Oh. So frustrating. I'm now having Franklinville flashbacks of the most dramatic and unwelcome kind. I think I need a cigarette, and I don't even smoke.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Drama, drama, drama...

It's official.

We are leaving Bosnia as of January 1st, 2007.

Our new port of call will be the United Kingdom, possibly Cambridge, possibly London.

Of course, this is a good thing, she says swooning and gasping for air. I am employable in the UK. My stupidly overpriced Ivy League social work degree can work for me. Yeah, beeyatch...And I'll get paid in pounds. Sweet deal that.

But. But. Oh my, I will miss Sarajevo.

You, dear, stupid, exasperating country...If only you threw me a bone and gave me a job,we wouldn't be leaving you. As it is. I can't stay here waiting for the next poorly paid English editing job, watching MTV, and eating kokos bombice. Mmm. Kokos bombice...

I know this also makes me hopelessly exasperating, as I have dished a fair amount of Bosnian dirt. But it's my home! After a year of adjustment, it finally feels like home. I know which taxi stands to use, I have friends, I have a reliable vegetable merchant, I know where I can feed my addiction to blackmarket rip-offs and kokos bombice...

What a restless and contrary pain in the ass I am. This is, after all, what I wanted. A chance to be useful. Gainfully employed. And what do I do? Whine, whine, whine...

Eh. It is one of the things I do best. Gotta keep my skills sharp.

Anyway. The way I figure it, I should be good for one or two meltdowns a week until we actually leave Bosnia. And then, there will be the adjustment meltdowns when we actually move to the UK.

So. Stay tuned and let the panic attacks commence!

And pass me the Barpy.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Buy Bosnian! Buy Barpy!

Actually, I have no idea whether or not Barpy is Bosnian. A semi-extensive internet search turned up nada.

However. According to the label, it is manufactured here. So, I'm kinda sorta thinking it is something regional. There must be a Barpy manufacturing plant. I just haven't found it. Yet.

So...What else can one say about Barpy?

1. It's like nutella
2. But has a seemingly higher sugar content and so is much grittier.
3. It comes in handy little containers, like so, or gigantic vats (not pictured.)

4. Yes, vats. Trust me. You can buy them at Mercator or Interex.
5. I ate half a jar of it yesterday. This jar, in fact.
6. Technically, you did not need to know that
7. But I like to share
8. Barpy! It's more fun to say than "nutella."

Now, if you will all excuse me, I need to walk off the Barpy.

And buy another jar.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Over the river and through the woods to...Bosnia's pyramids we go..?



Is this a pyramid or an absolute crock?

I have no idea, but it was sure muddy.

Trust me. Muddy. And slippery.

But. If you look at it just does have a pyramid like shape, yes?

And you have to credit the foundation and the town for rewarding hardy tourists with such easy to read signs...

And tourist paraphernalia. I loves me tourist paraphernalia...

You don't have such a nice key chain, do you? I bet you don't.

Stu and I had a nice, long hike to the top where we saw this...

and this...

I'm not sure I'm sold on the whole pyramid angle, but it was a lovely, if hazy, view from the top.

And, well, heck, if the farmers and local folk, including the enterprising sheister who sold us a parking spot for 2 marks, can make a buck or two, I say go for it.

I'll withhold judgment and support the Bosanska Pyramida.

Friday, November 10, 2006


I do love this season.

Isn't Sarajevo purty in the snow?

Sarajevo 2005

I'm a confirmed nester, so fall and winter bring out the best in me. I just want to make stew and bake pumpkin bread.

Pumpkin bread. Sigh. I need to learn how to make it with actual pumpkins, as I can't buy the canned variety here. (So, help me if you have a recipe and expertise in this particular area.)

As I sit here procrastinating between grant writing (boring) and English editing (tedious), I'm sipping a mug of hot green tea and revisiting some of my favorite online fall and winter activities...

1. Old time radio. Yup. I love it. And I love it most when the days are short and gray and snowy. I had a fantastic site I used to visit, and I can't find it for the life of me. Any recommendations will be appreciated.

2. BBC7. Classic comedy? Drama? Best sellers? Thrillers? Sometime back in August, I heard the entire reading of The Magician's Nephew. That was cool. (Yes, that did just send dork shivers up and down my spine. Zero to nerd in 2.3 seconds. Mock all you want.)

3. New music. The lovely Christy of Pica pica, now with sassy new haircut, first turned me on to All Songs Considered months ago. Thank you, fellow expat, former colleague, and all-around artsy dynamo. Recently, she sent me a link to an online broadcast of Regina Spektor's concert at, I believe, the 9:30 club in DC. Very cool.

Speaking of cool music, has anyone listened to Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor? If it's as good as the one song I've heard off the album, Daydreamin', featuring the amazing Jill Scott, I need to hear the whole thing.

Now, this procrastinating nester must return to her work. Don't even try and stop me, people.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

You know you're Bosnian when...

1. You see one of the hawkers at the outdoor markets throw open a suitcase of what is clearly new, used, and gently abused clothes and think, "Discount underpants!"

2. You buy these boots for 40 marks and think designer schmeiner. They're waterproof and fireproof. Who could ask for anything more?

3. Honestly, you can no longer tell the difference between well-made Italian cut boots and black market rip-offs.

4. And, frankly, you don't care.

5. You see a mannequin wearing a pair of the dreaded skinny pants and a cheap gold lamé belt with ruffles and you think,"I can see where they're going with this..."

6. And the only thing that stops you from buying said gold lamé belt is your lack of funds--all of which you burned through with the knock-off boots.

Holy Mary, Mother of God! Stop me before I spend again. If I keep going at this rate, I'm going to look like a hooker.

But don't make me give up the boots.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sweet Sloppy Freedom!

So, DH is returning from the States tomorrow morning, which means I have to pick up the line of clothes I've casually dropped all over the apartment. (And let’s not even talk about the bathroom.) It's quite liberating living alone, isn't it? You can wallow in your own slobdom, eat pizza for dinner every night, and polish off half a bottle of wine without feeling the least bit guilty that you haven't cleaned or cooked. Of course, this carefree existence makes surprise visits a little bit of a whoopsy daisy. I actually had to tell some out of town friends who arrived unexpectedly that they couldn't go anywhere near the inside of my house—she said as she eyeballed the underwear draped over the dining room chair.

This being my last night of freedom before the ball and chain returns, I will celebrate with a bottle of Cabernet and one last pizza—appropriately doctored with mozzarella, parmesan, onions, garlic salt, basil, and dill. I plan to get drunk, and, if things go according to plan, sing and dance to 2Pac’s Greatest Hits cd. I am not kidding. I might throw in a little Lenny Kravitz for good measure, and I’ll probably round out the evening with some Talking Heads. I likes to keep things interesting.

And, since I’m always talking about my love affair with Vranac, I just want to give a shout-out to the folks responsible for this incredibly cheap and respectable table wine. You rock,
Plantaže. Živjeli!

P.S. My favorite is the Cabernet. Clearly, the dog is keen on the Vranac.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Kringle is a sell out and public toilets are good things, why...?

Santa has decided to throw his weighty eggnog and chocolate cookie stuffed support behind Code Cigarettes. This should be of no real surprise to us as Santa has also sold out to Hallmark, Kmart, Walmart, and, well, frankly any large chain that can make him the BIG BUCKS.

But Code Cigarettes? I don't see this as a good thing, Mr. Kringle.

Although I am embarrassed to admit that I can't read the full sign, I'd like to think it says something to the effect,

"The character featured on this advertisement is purely fictional. Any resemblance to any person living or dead or mythical is purely coincidental and no similarity is intended or should be inferred...P.S. Santa does not support or condone cigarette smoking."

All kidding aside. For those of you who weren't around Sarajevo during the first wave of the Code advertising blitz, let me assure you that no one living here currently is unaware of this new brand of cancer sticks. So leave Santa out of it, huh?


Dear Sarajevo city planners or whomever is in charge of this abomination,

This public toilet skeeves me out to no end. It is an eyesore and must be removed forthwith.


Concerned...and totally grossed out. Totally.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Haters and other assorted weirdoes

I admit to utter bafflement when it comes to the Sarajevan attitude towards cats and dogs…and pigeons. Just came back from a Veli walk where I witnessed an attempted cat punting by a sweet little old lady. Well, seemingly sweet, anyway. She was surrounded by those flying disease carriers when a wee bundle of fur leapt out from behind a trashcan for a little breadcrumb action. Oh, hells no…Poor little thing avoided her boot point by centimeters. This is not an unusual occurrence. Apparently, avian flu, no problem, harmless kitty cat, problem.

Not the punter.

And, dude, if you don’t want my dog to come over to you and/or jump on you, don’t get down on her level, pat your thighs/snap your fingers and say, "Mali, mali, mali…"* This will only confuse her into thinking that you do want her to love you in that physical way dogs have. When you pull back in absolute fear, well…You just hurt her little doggie feelings, man.

So ends the rant for today. Peace out, my little lovelies.

* Little, or, little sweetie

We are your friends...even you, Kanye, you freak

I've seen this video many a'time on MTV Adria, and it's always made me laugh. Totally inspired by Montchan, who named Kanye Weenis of the Week on her blog, I thought I would share with you the delightful Best Video at the MTV Europe Music Awards.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Random artsy-fartsy notes

Jacki's arts calendar was on overload this weekend, what with Jazzfest Sarajevo and the wine tasting at Karabit Cafe. (Mad props to Maria for introducing me to JoÃo Bosco / Gonzalo Rubalcaba Group. Viva Brazil!) I'm still deciding whether or not to sit through an evening of Zappa with the The Grande Mothers Re:invented. I think I might have hit the wall. Collapse appears to be imminent. And my tummy hurts.

Dork that I am, I must tell you about my brush with fame, or, rather, how I very nearly almost brushed up against a person with fame. Up to this point, my life has been pretty bereft of celebrity sightings. Well, apart from James Carville, that is, whom I have now seen on two separate occasions: once at a DC Starbucks and once at an Alexandria Sutton Place Gourmet. And, yes, he seems as amusingly eccentric in person as he does on tv.

So, fast forward to last Friday. Picture lovely and sophisticated moi and my equally lovely and sophisticated friend, Enisa, sloshing merrily through regional cabernets, merlots, and pinots. Somewhere between a mediocre red and a fantabulous white, Enisa says, quite casually, "Jasmila Žbanić is behind you. On your right." And, oh my God, she was! And people were talking to her like she was real people! So, I ask, "How is it that she's not being hounded by rabid fans? How?" In that ever so cool Bosnian chic that I have never mastered (and probably never will), she says, "It's a small town. People know her from way back. They know her family. It's not so much a big deal."

Really? Not a big deal. Huh. Well, you'll be pleased to know that I comported myself with utmost aplomb and didn't do anything embarrassing like touch her clothes or smell her hair because that would have been not cool. And weird. Definitely weird.

So, that's my by the way plug for Jasmila and Grbavica. An excellent movie.

Lastly, I would like to share with you my growing affection for Balkan hip-hop. True. I am currently loving this girl...

Her name is Diyala, and her new video, Raw, is awesome. Check it out.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Skinny pants! Booty! Crotch! Now, that I have your attention...

I would like to take this opportunity to revisit the whole skinny pants/boot controversy that a previous post incited.

No, I do not live under a rock. I have been watching leg-warmers, leotards, and sweater dresses return to the shelves. (Thank you, Terranova.) I am a Jersey Girl, hello, so I fondly remember all of these things. In fact, I believe we were still wearing most of these styles well into the 90's. Anyway. This is all by way of saying that I am not opposed to new trends or old trends that masquerade as new trends. In fact, when jelly bracelets made their long-awaited return, I wept just a little. (Gads, I loved those things. Remember twisting them into a belt around your waist? Wasn't that cool?) And I am not morally opposed to skinny jeans or jeans that you can neatly tuck into your boots. I have seen many women do this with style and flare. However. When your crotch is denied its life-affirming oxygen supply, it's time for a rethink. I think.

As I've said before, this style is endemic to Sarajevo and never, completely, goes out of fashion.

I realize the picture I posted does not do justice to this crime. (And I am not going to go around Sarajevo taking crotch shots of women, pervs.) You must take my word for it.

And, ladies, I don't want to be that intimately acquainted with your lower regions. Buy a bigger size.

* * * * *
Hmm. That was going to be the end of the post. Nice zippy ending, blah, blah, blah, but I know there's more bubbling beneath the surface: style, sex appeal (my definition/theirs), how women in the region are treated by men, feminism (or lack thereof)...I promise to return to this thread when I have more time. I'm finishing a Halloween costume for tonight, so I'm a little pressed at the mo. Being serious is difficult when you're trying to craft an oatmeal container into a bongo drum.

I will leave you with this shot of a Sarajevo tram. It has nothing whatsoever to do with skinny pants, but I just loved the hippy-dippy save-your-environment message. That no one ever practices.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Krompirusa, full of artery-clogging carby goodness

I've wanted to learn how to make the Bosnian specialty of potato pita for, like, ever, so I invited my favorite Bosnian teacher to give me and two friends a demo. Here's the scrummy recipe and pics.


2 kilos potatoes
1/2 kilo onions
sea salt/table salt to taste (tbsp +)
black pepper to taste (1/2 tbsp +)
600 grams phyllo dough (pre-prepared and room temperature)
vegetable oil (as needed)
1/2 liter water
salt (to taste)
butter (2 tbsp or to taste)

2 large pans
large, flat surface for phyllo preparation

200 degree Celsius


  • Wash and peel potatoes
  • Place potatoes in large bowl of water
  • Grate onions
  • Grate or cube potatoes
  • Mix onions and potatoes in large container. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Drain potato and onion juice
  • Oil the pan
  • Gently roll out a sheet of phyllo dough. Use a knife to cut sheet in half.
  • Dab oil onto the sheet of phyllo with fingertips
  • Dab potato/onion mixture onto phyllo. Do not clump!
  • Roll phyllo sheet and wrap into a loose cinnamon bun shape. (see below)
  • Place pita onto pan
  • Drizzle pita with oil
  • Bake at 200 degrees Celsius until golden brown. (est. time, 30 minutes)
  • While pita is in oven, combine water, salt, and butter in saucepan. Bring to boil.
  • When pita is golden brown, remove from oven and drizzle with water mixture.
  • Return to oven for five minutes.
  • Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Happy belated expat Halloween and other things random.

Halloween is just not the same in Bosnia.

I mean, yes, the local market did put out scarecrow and witch decorations--in July--but I think they were just confused.

I briefly contemplated putting Veli in a dress, but, I abandoned that idea when she tried eating the matching hat. I think this might have also qualified as inhumane treatment, so an overall good call on my part.

And, yes, I did try to set the mood with a You Tube broadcast of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, but it just left me feeling hollow.

Phooey. There's an adult-themed Halloween party going on this Saturday, a sure promise of drunken debauchery, and my heart is just not in it.

Why, God, why?

I know other American expats have managed to hold onto the sweet, nostalgic memories of Halloween past, and they celebrate accordingly. As for me...? I find this particularly disturbing because I simply love(d) this holiday. (I do believe in the Great Pumpkin, I do!) Just the thought of Halloween makes (made?) me want to bake pumpkin bread, buy the October issue of Country Living (do not mock), and collect Department 56 Halloween decorations (I said, do not mock). What happened? Are our ties to our native culture so easily broken? Talk about unsettling, and I am only a year into my expatship. Dum-dum-dum.


Now for a subject everyone can get behind. Snow. Yes folks, Sarajevo has made the leap from summer to winter, with only a hint of fall. These were taken, about, 2pm this afternoon.

I am giddily excited by the prospect of snow. That will surely put me in the mood for Christmas and SHOPPING...which is just the kind of consumer-minded thinking one expects from an American.

God bless America.
My favorite hedonist brought to you by America's favorite family.

Your early morning giggle.