If you come to Novi Sad, and want to try something traditional and unique, but also something extremely delicious, we would certainly recommend that you visit some of the ’salaši’ in the vicinity of Novi Sad, and experience for yourself what’s so special about them. Our recommendation is Čenej, a settlement some ten kilometres away from Novi Sad, which is famous far and wide for its cluster of salaši. Once you are there, they instantly take you to the magic journey through the rural lands…
So what exactly are salaši, you may ask. Once upon a time these were the buildings in which the temporary residents of Vojvodina would be accommodated. Also, local farmers, whose main occupation was agriculture, would reside there while building houses for themselves. Salaši are scattered all across Vojvodina, and look somewhat similar to ranches, where you can normally find a main house with several auxiliary buildings across vast and spacious land. There are the tractors or agricultural tools which are the integral parts of the rural landscape, as well as cattle and domestic animals that run around the salaš households.
Today, Čenej salaši are open for tourism and represent the traditional rural lifestyle of Vojvodina. They look more or less the same as in the past, however the difference is that most of the farmhouses have been commercialised and converted into tourist accommodation, or restaurants in which both locals and tourists would happily stay and dine.
Gastronomy of salaši is based around typical Vojvodinian cuisine, intertwined with German, Romanian and Slovakian influences. The waiting staff will welcome you with rakija, our famous fruit brandy. When you are comfortably seated, you would normally start with the appetiser. Variety of cheeses, kajmak (weigh), sausages, kulen, smoked ham and home-made bacon would be served on the board, and accompanied by fresh, homemade buns. This is followed by domestic broth or soup, and you can choose from a real variety, such as tomato soup, pheasant soup, rooster soup or beef soup, normally combined with domestic noodles or dumplings. You can also have river fish stew, but for this to fully enjoy we recommend fish restaurants along the Danube river, called čardas.
The main course is a pleasure in itself. Not much in what is served (although we don’t underestimate the quality of food) but how it’s served. Meals are prepared from roasted, breaded or fried pork, poultry, veal, lamb or sheep. They are supplemented by all sorts of veg prepared in various ways, but what you must not miss is sarma (minced meat) in vine leaves. This does not leave anyone indifferent!
Do you have some space for desert? Try various sorts of strudel, pies, noodles with poppy seed, dumplings with plum filling wrapped in breadcrumbs, cream pie, pancakes, cookies, donuts, and all sorts of other homemade pastry. We know it can be too much of food, but do not you worry, just take a slow stroll around, and let your eyesight reach distant rural horizons… just savour the view as you digest your food. And although we’d recommend that you stay forever where you are, we’d also like you to get back to the city and try out river čardas and other restaurants of traditional Vojvodinian cuisine… but save that for the day after!
Drive north of Novi Sad on Route 100. It will take some 20 minutes to reach Čenej.
Take bus number 35 from the Main bus station.
Author: Jelena Farkić