Sunday 5 March 2023


Many years ago, one cold winter evening, in a smoke filled kafana (restaurant), in the middle of a long dinner, a friend of mine drunkenly exclaimed that, like all great nations, Serbs too have a mythical animal: "Pragnje", half a "prase" (piglet), half a "jagnje" (lamb).

And, like all great nations, Serbs too celebrate their mythical animal, in kafanas (restaurants), where they gather to (reverently) consume "pola kila prasetine, pola kila jagnjetine" (half a kilo of spit roast pork, half a kilo of spit roast lamb).

We all raised our glasses to that, and continued munching the roast meat on our plates. The animal from the first tweet in this thread is not Pragnje, but the next best thing: Mangalitsa, a breed of pigs from southern Europe, with one of the best tasting meats in the pig universe.

Mangulica pigs are descended directly from wild boar populations through Serbian "Šumadinka" pig.

In Serbian the main word for forest is "šuma". I love this word. Serbian word "šum" means rustling, which is the sound of deciduous forests. This makes forest "the shushing place"🙂...

Up until the 19th century, the whole area of the central Serbia was covered with giant oak and beach forests....which gave it its name "Šumadija", meaning the land of forests. So "Šumadinka" pig literally means "Pig from the land of forests"...

Millions of them roamed Serbian oak forests before the first world war, munching on acorns, making Serbia the biggest pig exporter in Europe at that time.

In the 1830s, the Archduke of the Austro-Hungarian Empire Joseph Anton Johann, received some Šumadinka pigs from a Serbian prince, and crossed them with Bakony and Szalonta pigs.

The resulting Mangalitsa “curly-hair hog” was initially reserved for the Habsburg Royalty only (they knew what's good), but became so popular because of its great taste that by the end of the 19th century it was the main breed in Austro-Hungarian Empire.

And so, I am raising this glass of red wine🍷to my friend and the Serbian mythical animal, Pragnje! 🙂

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