Mangalitsa Madness and Feijoada Fun - The Belgrade Dance Festival Hearts Pork

Mangalitsa Roast

Photo by Paul & Hien Brown — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

This week, we have picked the Belgrade Dance Festival as our festival of the week, which means that I will be concentrating on pork.

Yes, pork. In Serbia, it is customary to offer bread and salt at the gate of a home, and to present the host or hostess with food or spirits once you’ve crossed the threshold. Many a Serbian doorway has been entered with some form of Mangalitsa in the visitor’s hot little hands. (Or big hands, actually, because Serbia has the tallest population known to man, with men averaging 1.86 and women, 1.7). Mangalitsa is a Serbian species of pig that is making a bit of a comeback (click here for a better-written, more informative article on this species) that boasts the smallest amounts of bad cholesterol of any domestic animal species. Hardy, curiously endearing and extremely disease resistant, Mangalitsas — or, more accurately, Mangalitsa recipes — have been the rage for years in Serbia, but the rest of us are just catching on to the benefits of eating wooly pigs. (Not that there are any benefits to eating animal meat at all, and if you’re a vegetarian I support you and apologize).

Another pork-loving country that happens to be represented in the Belgrade Dance Festival is Brazil. Feijoada has been the national dish of Brazil way before the thong was declared national attire, although eating Feijoada will not help you out if you plan on wearing one anytime soon. A fragrant stew of pork, beans, rice and fresh herbs with several orange slices thrown in for good measure, the Feijoada is best served with a cold beer and followed by a nap. Although it’s unnecessarily longwinded and somewhat difficult to follow, I’m including this Feijoada recipe because I used it myself and it was so gosh darn good, I couldn’t get my guests to leave. Maybe I should have thrown salt and bread at them in an unhospitable reversal of the Serbian welcoming tradition.

Good luck in your kitchens. If you can’t make it to this week’s festival, at least take the time to visit other great festivals in Belgrade. The Feijoada will take you all day.

- Courtney Maum

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