I’m Lovin’ It (Most of the Time): A Brief History of McDonald’s in Serbia
Russian courts on Wednesday ordered the closure of three McDonald’s restaurants in Moscow for the maximum 90 days allowed by law, including the first location to open in the Soviet Union back in 1990. Officials said the three American culinary outposts were being shuttered for health violations, but the mounting case against McDonald’s in Russia has been widely interpreted as retaliation for Western sanctions. Some media outlets have reported that the more than 430 McDonald’s restaurants in Russia are all due to be inspected soon. Whatever the Big Mac’s fate is in Russia, McDonald’s already has a history of stirring up major controversy in the former Yugoslavia, where the fast food chain has been both loved and loathed, a source of national pride and a detested symbol of US foreign policy.In March of 1988, Belgrade, Yugoslavia became the first city in the communist world to open a McDonald’s restaurant. American newspapers were still steeped in quaint Cold War clichés at the time, and ran headlines like “First Big Mac Attack Against Communism!” and “McMarxism?” Nearly half a century after two brothers named Mac n’ Dick opened the first McDonald’s restaurant in California’s Inland Empire, “Mickey D’s” received a heroes’ welcome in communist Yugoslavia. With lines wrapped around the block and police forces brought in for crowd control, the opening of the first McDonald’s in Eastern Europe was by all accounts the most successful restaurant launch in Belgrade history. More than 6,000 people were served on opening day, setting a new record for Europe.
And thus began the long and deeply conflicted relationship between McDonald’s and the people of Belgrade.
A delicacy for medieval monarchs, a plate for the poorest and a treat for Tito, animal testicles, with a pinch of humour, are back on the menu, at least at one Serbian food festival.
A visitor needs no road signs to reach the tiny central village of Lunjevica, population 500. They can follow the smoke and smells from the barbecues and kettles at the 10th unofficial testicle-cooking “world championship”.
“In our region, we have cooked testicles for ages: our fathers prepared them, our grandfathers before them,” local farmer Dragan Todorovic said, slicing a set of horse testicles.
The challenge for this year’s 20-some competitors was to make the best “balls-goulash”, a twist on the ubiquitous regional stew but replacing classic meat cuts with testicles from rams, calves, bulls, donkeys, horses or other animals.
Some say the testicles should be diced into tiny pieces and soaked in wine for at least 30 minutes for the right consistency before simmered with the onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes and herbs.
“Beware. They should be cut diagonally, otherwise they lose their aphrodisiac effect,” warned Zdravko Djuric, a competitor from northern Serbia.
I feel like the news is just particularly weird today.
Sarmale (stuffed cabbage leaves) in Romania.
There’s a recipe at the source!
Romania officially holds the world record for the biggest salad in the world. The salad weight 19 tonnes and was prepared last week-end in Pantelimon, at the opening of the Exporom exhibition area. Over 1,100 volunteers worked on creating the salad, which weights 6 tonnes more than the previous world record, set in 2010 in Greece. Volunteers worked for seven hours, using 23 tonnes of ingredients. The Guinness World Record representative Seyda Subasi Gemici attended the event near Bucharest on Sunday, September 23, and confirmed the record.
The salad bowl was 18 meters long, almost 3 meters wide and 53 centimeters deep. The majority of ingredients for the salad were made in Romania, apart from the iceberg lettuce, olives and olive oil.
Congratulations, Romania! But…iceberg lettuce? Really?