Home » Latest » Burek: A Slice of History of Croatia’s Adopted National Street Food

Burek: A Slice of History of Croatia’s Adopted National Street Food

Burek (photo: Nikola Škorić under CC)

By Tamara Gamulin

If you do a quick internet search on the subject of the very popular dish called burek, you might get surprised how controversial the question gets of what can be called burek since people in Bosnia are convinced that only burek with meat is a ‘true burek’ and everything else are just pies.

Another controversy around burek has to do with national borders and the question who’s dish is it – Bosnian, Croatian or Serbian, but this question has little to do with common sense since burek originates from the time of the Ottoman Empire and it spread around Europe and Asia as did the Ottomans, long before there were national borders as we know them today.

Ottomans are ancient history now but burek is still alive and well being the most popular street food today in Croatia and the Balkans.

Burek with yoghurt (photo: Marija Todorović Doumouchtsis / Facebook)

In general, burek is a family of baked filled pastries made of thin flaky dough known as phyllo (or jufka) of Anatolian origins and also found in the cuisines of the Balkans, Levant, Mediterranean, and other countries in Eastern Europe and Western Asia.

Börek in the Turkish language refers to any dish made with jufka and the name comes from bur, which means to twist and it is usually eaten with yogurt.

The shape changes throughout the Balkans, from a round pie shape that has layers of dough and filling, to long, rolled versions that are coiled up into a circle.

Shapes vary (photo: Tvrtko Barun / Facebook)

Like in Turkey where any dish made with filled jufka is called burek, in Croatia and Serbia it is the same – but only in Bosnia jufka’s filled with meat can be called burek and the rest of the fillings (cheese, spinach, pumpkin) are called pita (pie).

I’ve spent some time in Bosnia and witnessed a lot of angry discussions about how only burek with meat is burek and everything else is just PITA and how people in neighbouring countries got this all wrong. I also come from Šibenik in Croatia, the town where people love to eat what they call burek with apples. Not pie, not strudel but burek.

So now we know the impossible – not only burek can be filled with something that is not meat but it also can be sweet.

Burek with cheese (photo; Mlinar)

Even famous Apfelstrudl is considered to have origins in burek from the time Ottomans tried to conquer Wien.

They never made it but seems like burek got attached as some kind of their amanet (legacy) in this part of the world.

So, let’s get back to the beginning and face the truth about his majesty burek – this delicious dish knows no national borders no matter how you call it.

(photo: Mostar Vegans / Facebook)

While writing this text, I did a little survey and asked my Bosnian friends what is the first thing they can think of when somebody says “burek with cheese”. Most of them said: It just sounds so wrong. Does it really?

Tags:
Share on:
4.56 / 5 (9 votes)

Related Posts

Croatia v Gibraltar Football Friendly Venue Announced

Croatia will face Italy in an important EURO 2016 qualifier on 12 June in Zagreb, and to warm up for the match Niko Kovač’s side will take on UEFA newcomers Gibraltar in a friendly just a few days earlier… Croatia will play Gibraltar in Varaždin at the Anđelko Herjavec stadium on 7 June, reports Tportal....

LAUNCHub Seed Fund Accepts Applications for Investments

The LAUNCHub seed fund has launched a dedicated application call for financing of early stage digital startup companies.  Earlier in January the 9 million Euro SEE seed fund announced its latest investments following the selection process in the end of 2013 adding Slovenia and Ukraine on the map together with previous investments in the Digital...

Fans from All Over Rush for Justin Bieber Tickets in Croatia

Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber is coming to Croatia for the first time to perform next year and after just 3 days of ticket sales, thousands have already gone out the door… Bieber, who has sold over 75 million records worldwide, will perform at Zagreb’s Arena on 9 November 2016 and even though organisers knew...

[PHOTO] €5 Million Makeover to Modernise Zagreb Zoo

Zagreb Zoo is set for a 5 million euro makeover, with 95% of the project being funded by EU funds… The 7-hectare zoo located within Maksimir Park in the capital first opened its doors in 1925, and the latest 38 million kuna (5 million euros) investment to modernise the zoo is aimed at trying to...

Croatian Junior Makes Australian Open Final

Last year it was Ana Konjuh, now another young Croatian tennis hopeful has made the final of the Junior Australian Open… Jana Fett (17), from the capital Zagreb, has beaten Australian Kimberly Birrell 6:0, 6:4 in just over one hour to advance through to this weekend’s final, a great acheivement for the rising star. Fett...

Young Croatian Girl Wins Worldwide Fair Play Award

A true act of sportsmanship so rarely seen these days in competitive sport has earned a young Croatian sailor the prestigious International Olympic Committee (IOC) President’s Youth Prize at the International Fair Play Committee (CIFP) annual conference in Budapest this week… 12-year-old Hana Dragojević from the Split-based Labud sailing club won the international award for...