Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ewww! Former Yugoslavs Eating Raw Bacon

I couldn't figure out where the bacon was going. I work from home these days, so if someone was cooking up some bacon I was sure to smell it. But, I never did. There was a bunch of bacon in the fridge, and then it was gone.

Then I caught him.

I walked into my husband's home office late one evening and there he was tucking into a heaping portion of raw bacon on one of my favorite blue-and-white plates. Ewww! In America we cook our bacon up in a frying pan. Crispy or chewy, it's your pleasure, but it's cooked up before you eat it. Even then you feel kinda sinful because it's bacon, a guilty pleasure, you know?

So a few days later I'm hanging out chit chatting with a couple of former Yugoslav women - one from Belgrade, the other from Zagreb - and I think, 'well here's a funny story' and I bring up the raw bacon. They look at me like I'm nuts. "How else would you eat it?" the one from Zagreb asks.

OMG. Raw bacon. Situation normal. Ewww.

At last I ask, "is there any situation in which you'd cook the bacon before you eat it?" They think long and hard. "Perhaps with polenta or if you're frying some eggs?" at last the one from Belgrade ventures. "But, you'd cook it beforehand and pour off the fat before adding it to the rest of the food, right?" "No," she looks really confused, "Why would you want to do that?"


Djule Cobanic said...

Do please lose the "Former Yugoslav" epiteth, it is archaic and very silly. By using it you just signal that you're a clueless foreigner who not only hasn't understood anything, but also doesn't WANT to understand anything.

Also please stop misrepresenting reality, the bacon your husband ate isn't raw, it's smoked, salted or air-dried, or even a combination of all.

Cooking food is, chemically speaking, about turning long molecules into shorter ones. The same effect is achieved whether you boil, steak, roast, salt, dry or smoke the food in question.

Before you angrily dump this comment, go forth and ask your husband whether he's a "Former Yugoslav" or something else. Also ask him how that bacon he likes so much is prepared.

The post a blog entry titled "Now I Know".

Rosemary Bailey Brown said...

According to public, recent census data I've seen for Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, in parts of all three places a 10% or more slice of the population considers themselves "Yugoslav". Many in America also do. When I'm writing about someone who lives in the US but who has citizenship in more than one former Yugoslav country, or who directly describes themselves as being a former "Yugoslav", then that's what I tend to call them. The term may be archiac for many, but is still very much alive for others ... and I follow their lead. I really don't have any opinion in the matter; it's just what people I know call themselves.

Also, outside the Balkans, I have found that some former citizens still refer to their country of origin as Yugoslavia because that's a name that foreigners may recognize more easily. Dumb but true, a lot of people around the world don't know where the terms Serbia, Croatia or even the Balkans refer to, but they heard of Yugoslavia. It's the most famous place name of all three to this day. In another generation it won't be....

Yes, certainly bacon is smoked and salted here. I was referring to it as "raw" not so much in the purely technical scientific sense, but in the 'things you normally cook before you eat them' sense. No one in mainstream American life would consciously consider bacon to be 'cooked' unless it was, well, cooked more at least. I was pointing out that it appears mainstream tastes between our two cultures seem to be very different. In the matter of bacon among other things :-)

hdragoo said...

Haha!!!! I continue to laugh at your blogs! My Serbian husband also loves his bacon "raw." I will be careful with that word as it seems to offend some. And lets not forget the giant hunk of prosciutto meat that sits in our fridge on a regular basis that my husband will dig chunks off of ;) Another funny quirk I have noticed is his desire to eat pancakes and waffles with his hands! I give him a fork and he opts against it ;) They are so used to eating rolled crepes by hand, and in his opinion, pancakes and waffles should be hand food as well. So there I am, fork in hand, watching my very sweet husband eating his pancakes by hand with butter and syrup running down his hands ;) You gotta love him!

Anonymous said...

Americans eat Beef Jerky, does that mean they munch on raw Cow? LOL

Gassalasca said...

Hm, what about ham? Do Americans always cook it beofre eating too?

Gordo said...

We still have to use the "Yugo" word describing where we were travelling, when asked by anyone from friends to doctors. Some Americans and Canadians are quite geographically challenged.

Also, some people describe themselves as Yugoslavians in a cagey sense, as they don't want to be tagged as "evil Serbians" due to Western media propaganda from the Balkan/Kosovo wars.

Anonymous said...

what's the difference betwee eating raw bacon and eating proscuito?

Marie Ottem said...

Oh haha! my fiance eats raw bacon aswell. Ive tried it, but wont try it again! I perfer my bacon to be fried :)

Holly said...

Oh jeez. I simply won't allow this in my house. Food safety comes first. My husband LOVES his raw bacon.
*Yes, it's raw and it's bacon. C'mon. The package says "COOK IT", so I would conclude that means it's raw.*
I do think American bacon is not quite the same as Croatian bacon and bacon type smoked meats. (Jerky is completely different as well, not at all comparable -for the PP.)
Perhaps theirs IS better/safer, and I wouldn't doubt it, even the stuff that comes from someone's basement/garage, because of our awful high volume/low-quality factory farming and processing.

If he want to eat bacon raw in his country, that's fine. I have no problem with that. I have done the same myself actually, because I firmly believe that "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" and also "Try to never offend your hosts".

We compromise on his bacon-topped pizza: I figure it's cooked enough in the oven with the whole pizza to make it OK to eat.
I won't let the children (they are very young) eat the uncooked meat. Sorry.
When I was in Croatia staying with my in-laws, I did try frying up some S'pek a'la American style bacon, and it was SO DANG GOOD! Even my MIL, who uses the stuff but never considered cooking it on its own, admitted it's pretty good fried.
I think all of their foods are so much better quality than any standard supermarket foods we get in the U.S. It was/is a marvel to me each time I am there, just how good and tasty every food item is! Wish I could move there just for that.
I also sometimes say Former Yugoslavia because most Americans' geography IS that bad, and at least that gives them a reference, a word/country they might have heard of. I say "he's from Croatia, which is part of the former Yugoslavia, if that helps you a bit?" Surprisingly some people DO know Croatia, but many many have NO CLUE. My husband is not offended. He was born in Yugoslavia, when you think about it. If they still have the blank stare, "East of Italy, South of Austria, North of Greece". LOL! When in doubt give them major countries they might have heard of ;)!
Sadly, yes, many of us Americans are really that ignorant.

Anonymous said...

First, I think there are lots of people that left the country when it was Yugoslavia and call it "the former Yugoslavia", so your first commenter just isn't thinking and is a bit of a snot!

Second, my dad, (Hungarian) turned me on to eating thick, smoked (not necessarily cured) bacon with paprika, hot peppers, cheese and bread. Yum! Great stuff.
Great post... Tom

Anonymous said...

Oh Wow! I'm glad I don't go round to your house Holly, you are such a food Nazi. Sooo narrow minded.
Not much difference between jerky and bacon really. Whilst bacon is uncooked, because it's processed it can't be raw.
I was brought up on raw tripe, I also eat smoked fish and smoked chicken (both are uncooked).
As for beef, steak should be blue, or maybe just minced and spread on homemade bread.
I eat lots of raw veg too, but maybe you would be scared to do that too incase of any little bugs on it.
I find it musing that I didn't realise that Yugos or Serbs ate uncooked bacon, but not surprised. Great anecdote. I prefer mine grilled, however when rescuing a bird from the wild I didn't have much protein to feed it, so I chewed up some bacon for it, it was not so bad!