Shalom from the black mountains of Montenegro

posted 12 Jul 2016, 10:05 by Lodzer Shabbat-Bulletin

20160711 - Shalom from the black mountains of Montenegro.

First, I owe you a new picture from the Latin Bridge in Sarajevo. Here it is, taken shortly before last Shabbat. You can now delete from your memory the old one, or try and find 10 differences between the two.
Latinski most, Sarajevo, July 2016_w600.jpg

Of course "new" is also a relative term. By now, I am no longer in Bosnia. We crossed the eastern border to the adjacent state of Montenegro, another shard of former Yugoslavia. Gorgeous mountain views, air that could put an oxygen pillow to shame, some of the best smoked cheeses ever, and serpentine roads with 30 km/hr limits.
Yesterday was a long day. After breakfast, I drove out well ahead of the group to make sure everything was shipshape and spick-and-span at our destination.
The bridge over river Tara_w600.jpg

Reaching our hotel in a little hamlet in the mountains six hours later, I already knew that our kitchen has been significantly delayed at the border. As in, 5 hours delayed. As in, it will be coming later than the group, even later than the dinner time.
The good news was, the chef was with me, and also that we'd rented the hotel kitchen to use it just in case of such eventuality. The not-so-good news was that our entire meat supply was in the van, as were our kosher pots, and pans, and ladles, and the rest of bric-a-bracs and pichifkes that make cooking such an easy and pleasant task.
The manager and staff were charming and cooperative, they understood my needs very clearly. We boiled three big - no, BIG - pots of water, and by the time the leader of the group dropped in to check on us a little later, I already had koshered 10 oven trays, 6 frying pans, 100 sets of cutlery, and ample number of cooking spoons, not to mention a convection oven. He was impressed.

Now, while koshering the dishes with the help of the local staff I started crooning to myself (that's right; we the tone deaf guys do not limit our vocal exploits to the shower). By the time I got to Shlomo Artzi, everyone around fell unusually quite and serious. Apparently, one of the ladies in the kitchen shushed everybody, saying the Rabbi was praying. Just imagine the picture; in the early evening, high in the Balkan mountains, four Serb kitchen workers sway devotedly in tact to The Heat of July-August performed by a tone-deaf rabbi who is focused on thoroughly and vigorously boiling clean cutlery. Somewhat surreal, innit?
We should discuss selling rights to a movie. Johnny Depp can play me.

There is at least one thing common to our Yemenite guests and our Serb hosts; both would consider 24 hours during which they did not eat meat, a day wasted.
We had to play the cards we got. So the sous-chef, who was with the kitchen driver, got into the van, heroically managed to free the freezer door, got out the meat and allowed it to thaw... all of that on the move!
Meanwhile, we served the salads first, leaving a prominent place for the fleisch and emphasizing they were looking at prelude only.

12 minutes later, four staff members met our kitchen downstairs, grabbed the meat and all other remaining products, and delivered them upstairs to the chef. In another 23 minutes, the buffet was featuring piping hot goulash. Feeding people is like doing magic tricks; as long as everyone believes everything is as it should be, it really is.

An after-dinner folk show also definitely helps. With tranquil natural beauty all around, good food, and proper entertainment, our army can march on its stomach anywhere.

Makes me wonder whom you'd be more interested to see; the Serb performers or the Yemenites guests. Anyway, only one of the two groups gave me permission to publicly post their photos.

I was going to write more but the schedule is little tight today. Please accept my apologies.
Will do my best to send you more; next week, from Croatia, God willing.

Shabbat Shalom,