Before starting this challenge I had never heard of Montenegro. It turns out I am not alone, when searching for a map of Montenegro I found one from the perspective of Norwegians, and there is not even a stereotype for Montenegro. As a country, it has only been around in its current form since 2006, it is smaller than wales, and it has ten times fewer people than Tennessee. Its most famous foods are Njeguški cheese and Njeguški prosciutto, and it also produces wine, although none of these are available in Korea.
Prior to 2006, Montenegro was joined with Serbia. Since at some point in the future we will also be trying Serbian food, I wanted to find dishes that were really Montenegrin. The Oxford Companion to Food let me down this week. Montenegro was included in the entry for Yugoslavia, and there was not even a mention of a national dish. Wikipedia had a long list of dishes, but many did not have recipes, or even their own links. Finally with much help from google and google translate I found two blogs, one registered in Montenegro with a .me and one in Montenegrin, well I think it was in Montenegrin, but I don’t know Montenegrin, and there is no setting for Montenegrin language on google translate, so I after attempting a few different combinations the results from Hungarian worked best, and the translation was more or less comprehensible.
Cooking Montenegrin food was perhaps the highlight this week, almost like meeting an old friend. The methods were similar to 1980s British food, lots of frying, boiling, and parsley. For the Japraci, since Rastan is unavailable in Korea, I substituted it for organic Kale. In testament to this, the leaves had been munched on by caterpillars, so due to the holes, instead of boiling the cabbage parcels, I steamed them. The flavour of the Kale was quite overpowering, so I would not recommend it. The carrot and semolina broth was an interesting combination. I’m not sure about semolina in soups, and it brought back memories of school food. We finally found corn flour, in the baking section of our supermarket to make Crnogorski Smocani Kacamak, or polenta. The polenta was a good workout, trying to combine corn flour with potatoes required very vigorous stirring and reminded me of making foo foo for Ghana week. Even though Montenegrin prosciutto was not available, we found Italian prosciutto at a little market, and the Podgorica Popeci was very tasty.
If I ever get chance to go to Montenegro, I definitely want to try real Podgorica Popeci, Njeguški sir cheese, Njeguški pršut prosciutto, and of course Montenegrin wine.
Mekike Punjene Sirom