ROAD-TRIP IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA

Pomegranates, Figs and Co. - In the paradise of the Balkans

Mediterranean climate is responsible for the fact that Herzegovina is home to wild pomegranates and figs. But the barren natural landscape has much more to offer

My Stages

ROAD-TRIP IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA

Pomegranates, Figs and Co. - In the paradise of the Balkans

Mediterranean climate is responsible for the fact that Herzegovina is home to wild pomegranates and figs. But the barren natural landscape has much more to offer

My Stages

Fresh pomegranates from Bosnia

“Today we’re going to eat pomegranates!” Oh, how I love these fruits! Even the pharaohs knew about the benevolent effect of this super fruit as a beauty elixir. It was even carried to the grave as a precious gift. For thousands of years of our human history it has been a symbol of fertility, femininity and beauty. And today? We know of its benefits as a rejuvenating elixir for the skin. And, of course, its numerous plump red seeds taste incredible. The taste simply makes you happy.

Pomegranates, Figs and Co. - In the paradise of the Balkans 1
© Mirella Sidro

“Very cool, then I can buy a whole bag right away!” Faruk laughs out loud, “Why buy? We’ll go pick them!” I’m amazed. It’s November! While the northeast of the country is experiencing autumnal temperatures, Herzegovina is blessed with Mediterranean weather in the southwest of the country. We pick up Alma in Mostar, our guide for the day. “So you’re the one who loves pomegranates? Well, we’re off to harvest them first!” I’m excited.

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© Mirella Sidro

"An eye-catcher in its own right"

We drive to Pocitelj, a medieval town about 30 kilometers south of Mostar. Founded as a settlement by the first Bosnian king, it gained notoriety under the Ottomans. The mosques and the hamam bath still bear witness to that time. It sits majestically in the ever green and barren hills directly on the banks of the emerald green river Neretva, crowned by the fortress that seems to rise endlessly into the sky.

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© Mirella Sidro

Alma shows us the way to the upper entrance of the fortress: “From here we will take a walk down. And afterwards I have a culinary surprise for you!” As we pass the gate, a breathtaking view awaits me. From up here you have an unobstructed view of the whole village and the river flowing peacefully towards the sea. The whole settlement consists of old stone houses. The oriental doors, either made of wood or metal, are already an eye-catcher in themselves, behind which paradisiacal Mediterranean gardens are hidden.

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© Mirella Sidro

Today it is a well-known artists’ colony. Some of the most famous artists of the country work here. From above, I look at the well-tended gardens, where pomegranate trees grow. But not just there. As we take the historic stairs down, these divine little trees line our path, with fruit still hanging ready to be eaten. The inhabitants of here and from the surrounding area collect them and make juice and jam from them.

The culinary surprise

Alma already presses a pomegranate into my hand. Whilst we sit on the outer wall of the fortress and watch the river, we eat the healthy seeds. The fruits are quite small here, compared to the ones we know in our supermarkets. The seeds are small but very juicy and the seeds are easily chewable. The sun is shining and we enjoy the peace and the scent of rosemary, which also grows everywhere here.

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© Mirella Sidro

I am not surprised that artists like to work here. This view of the surroundings and the tranquility are one of the reasons. We walk past the mosque and the hamam. There are cats everywhere, blocking our way because they want to get a few strokes. We are happy to do so. They are totally groomed and well fed. The residents take care of them and they regularly get something to eat and drink. We arrive downstairs and Alma leads us to a restaurant. She places the order. My culinary surprise is waiting for me. The waitress brings me smokvara and freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. Smokvara is a traditional dessert from Herzegovina.

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© Mirella Sidro

The sugar-free cake is made from either semolina or corn flour. Then it is covered with a fig jam, which is also made without added sugar. It is boiled down until its own fructose thickens the jam. It also does not become solid, but remains thick. And this is then poured over the cake, which absorbs the liquid. The term smokvara is derived from the term smokva, which translates as fig. The portion is huge. I immediately point out that I will certainly not manage it. Alma and Faruk grin, “Taste it first and then we’ll talk.” How can I best describe the taste experience? ‘Love at first bite’ sums it up perfectly! The texture is soft and you can intensely taste the natural sweetness of the fig, ripened under the Herzegovinian sun! The portion is quickly gone. Faruk offers me his second half. I don’t refuse. “Before the sun sets, let’s pick some pomegranates,” Alma suggests. We drive up the hills where the super fruit grows wild. I’m still amazed to find fruit in November. It is possible to find then into December.

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© Mirella Sidro

At night, everything is completely different...

As the sun sets, we drive to the 2000 year old Illyrian town of Daorson. The old thick walls at the top of the hills are magical – and get more magical as the sun goes to sleep. “10,000 years of history can be recounted here,” Alma tells me as we sit on the wall and watch the colorful spectacle in the sky.

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© Mirella Sidro

We end the trip with a visit to Mostar by night. I have been here so many times, but always during the day, when the famous Old Bridge in the Old Town was crowded with tourists. Today it is completely different. Everything is closed and I experience the medieval city in all its glory. We take a walk across the bridge and to the bank of the river. The illuminated historical monuments are reflected in the water, while the sky is dotted with stars. Emerald green water, pomegranates, figs… Yes, this could be paradise too!

Follow my impressions

My mobile companion

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© Mirella Sidro