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It's Taste of Europe time again, and doing burgers Balkan style instead of American style was a super-easy way to include the countries of the Western Balkans in our culinary tour.
The Balkan Peninsula is a mountainous region of Europe at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, and is home to nine Balkan countries as well as Greece and part of Turkey. There were many tribes in this area, with diverse cultural identities, which has contributed to hostilities in this area over the years. Most of the people belong to the Southern Slavic language group, but are divided by religion and culture. Some were once part of the Austrian Empire and share its Western culture, Roman alphabet, and Catholic religion, while others were part of the Byzantine Empire with its Cyrillic alphabet and Orthodox religion.
For a time after the breakup of Yugoslavia, Montenegro was united with Serbia, but those two regions divided in 2003, and Montenegro became fully independent in 2006. Its name means 'black mountain' and the landscape is mostly forested mountains.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Since the Muslims had retained control over the Balkans for several hundred years, many of the Slavs adopted Islam. Most of these were in Bosnia. Croats and Serbs made up the majority of the population, however. When Bosnia declared independence in 1991, the Serbian minority refused to join the new nation, and a bitter civil war erupted. Fighting between Serbs, Bosniaks, and Croats continued until 1995. NATO and EU peace-keeping troops were still enforcing the fragile peace for many years following. Bosnia is the northern and central portions of the country, and Herzegovina is the southern portion.
Although the Croatian and Serbian languages are very similar, there is a long history of rivalry and conflict between the two people groups. When Slovenia and Croatia both declared independence from Yugoslavia, there was war in Croatia as the Serb minority wanted independence from Croatia. The UN finally negotiated a cease-fire in sent in peacekeeping troops, and since 2000 Croatia has taken significant steps towards democracy. About a third of the country is forested, and the Dalmatian Coast is home to many beach resorts with its Mediterranean climate and the scenic Dinaric Alps nearby.
I saw a post on Global Table Adventure about Balkan Burgers, huge grilled meat patties of ground beef, sausage, and ground lamb; and served on pita bread with a roasted spread on the side. If you're interested in doing it up authentically, here is the original recipe.
I actually had no intention of getting ground lamb though. We like lamb, but it's a little spendy. I figured we could take a page from the Balkan Burger playbook, and just serve our burgers in a pita bread instead of a hamburger roll. Easy. Mine had cheese and spinach and kale in it. My hubby put roasted pepper hummus in his burger. And with the bread to meat ratio favoring the meat, I think this is how we'll serve burgers more often.
This post is (or will be) linked at Try a New Recipe Tuesday, hosted by Lisa at Home to 4 Kiddos
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