Maybe you still didn’t have a chance to try it, but you have probably read or heard somewhere for “slatko” while you were preparing for your visit to Serbia. Slatko (sweet) is a thin fruit preserve made of fruit or rose petals, special delight prepared for serving to house guests as a welcome treat. Some ethno restaurants have introduced this custom as regular offer when receiving tourists or guests from abroad.
Traditionally, each guest in Serbian home is greeted with slatko and a glass of water as soon as guest is seated. Nowadays it’s rare to see this custom in urban areas, but thankfully it is still deeply rooted in rural areas. Usually lady of the house serves sweet in glass bowl on a plate decorated with handmade knitwear, together with teaspoons and glasses of water on it. Number of spoons and glasses depends on number of guests.
Each guest takes a spoon and helps himself with sweet. Usually one spoon of sweet is just right measure, but if you like the flavor, or if your host kindly asks you to take some more, you can help yourself with one more.
Following step is to take a good sip of fresh cold water from a glass offered on a plate, and then to place used spoon into the glass.
When each guest is served, then it’s time for man of the house to take you to the next level of traditional hospitality, offering you a “real” drink, usually rakia with some “meze”. What it will be, savory or sweet combination is not of importance, what is more important is that guest feels like home. There is an anecdote connected to a certain tourist who was offered with slatko when he was visiting grandmother of his friend, somewhere in central part of Serbia. When they arrived, friend went to the neighbors and kind grandma offered the guest with slatko, not assuming that he was not aware of the custom, and since she didn’t speak any other language except Serbian, she was not able to give him instructions, so the guy thought that he is supposed to eat whole bowl of slatko in order not to offence his host, and on the other hand grandma didn’t want to risk of becoming unhospitable by taking the bowl away from him, so the guy finished the bowl with slatko and spent rest of the day feeling sick, while grandma was left wondering about her granddaughter’s friend with strange manners…
Fall and are seasons for celebrating Slava (Patron Saint’s day) in majority of Serbian families, so it is of utmost importance to know how to consume Slava grain, in case you are invited to the celebration. Even some Serbs make a wrong move, because they mistake Slava grain for slatko. The main difference is that on a plate next to the bowl with a scoop of grain is placed only one glass of water and it is intended for disposal of used spoons. So, when host brings tray in front of you, you should cross yourself first, then wish a happy Slava to the host and take one spoon of grain. After you help yourself with Slava grain you should dispose of the spoon in a glass with water. Make sure you don’t reach for the glass in order to drink the water, because you can be unpleasantly surprised when you realize that water is not clean and that there are used spoons already in the glass, used by previous guests 😉
Hopefully with this article we made slatko, as a traditional Serbian delight, more familiar to you. If you are interested in experience how slatko is made, you can contact us to enquire for a tour where you’ll learn how to prepare it on your own with guidance of experienced host in traditional manner. Please use this link.