Ajvar

One of my discoveries from my first few days in Croatia is ajvar (pronounced eye-vahr; that’s not quite right, but it’s close.  Remember: in Croatian, j is pronounced y, as in you.)

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Ajvar is a relish, apparently originating in Serbia, made from paprika (very close to the red bell peppers in America), eggplant, and garlic.  Some ajvar also has tomato in it.

This is FABULOUS stuff.  It’s like catsup; a nice balance of vinegar and sweet and umami (savory) flavors.  Here, it’s sold in two strengths, ljuti (“angry,” about as hot a mild Pace picante sauce) and blagi (“slight.”)  The burn in the ljuti ajvar is in the throat, not the mouth; I think that’s a feature of paprika?

People spread it on bread; it was once called “vegetable caviar.”  And it can be used on any meat where you might use catsup or barbecue sauce.  I haven’t seen it at McDonalds here, but I bet it would be killer on french fries.

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