newsletter 4 September 2019
With the rakia-making experts
What magical alchemy transforms 1,500 kilograms of ripe plums into 80 litres of 'put hairs on your chest' rakia?
In Serbia, we received an invitation from our friends' neighbours to pop over and see rakia being made. We were about to find out.
Milan, Branka and Milanova welcomed us into their backyard with big smiles and as much English as our Serbian, ie. zilch, nada, none.
Their copper still was searing hot and bubbling like a witch's cauldron. The fermented plums boiled and steamed under the closed lid and a moat of boiling water sealed the precious contents.
An inch-wide tube drew the steam across to a huge barrel of cold water, then curled down through the water, distilling the steam on the way down.
Clear 'liquid gold' dripped into a white bucket covered with a cloth - rakia.
We were offered a taste and with a little cajoling, we accepted the challenge. Phwaaawww. Pretty sure chest hairs immediately sprouted!
As we ventured through eastern Europe, we regularly saw groups of old men sitting around cafe tables, drinking coffee and a shot of their favourite tipple and dragging on countless cigarettes before breakfast, chatting with each other and occasionally calling out to someone they knew who was walking past.
Rakia made by Milan, Branka and Milanova could have been in their shot glasses.
Cheers, Bridget and Alan