The first thing I noticed about this Serbian family was how passionate
they were … about everything.
The second thing I noticed was the way they all talked over each other, but still managed to hear what each other was saying. It seems to be a real skill that they have.
Micho was really cool and very patient. Seeing Micho walking down the high street of Botany with a pig around his neck was quite a sight. But it was even funnier when we strapped the pig to the roof of a very small car and drove it through the streets of Botany to his house.
Shooting the cabbage scene for me was quite challenging. If you’ve never smelt fermenting cabbage, I can tell you it’s one of the worst smells ever. It literally smells like death. When we walked into Micho’s backyard shed the smell was overwhelming. Micho told me a funny story about that. There was a Serbian guy in America who was pickling cabbages in his back yard and the neighbours called the police, to tell them that they thought their neighbour had killed someone and was keeping the dead body in the back yard.
When the cops turned up to investigate, it turned out he was just pickling cabbages in brine. Anyway, that’s how bad the smell is. The flavour of the uncooked cabbage leaves was really powerful and I would say unattractive. But strangely enough, when we used the cabbage to make stuffed cabbage rolls, and went through the whole process of layering and boiling it, it was probably one of the highlights of the series.
Stana had made the most delicious cabbage rolls – quite outstanding. Back in the shed, Micho asked me to drink the cabbage water out of the bin (the pickling juices) as he’d been told by a doctor that if he drank it once a week he wouldn’t get bowel cancer, which I thought was ironic given he told me while he was smoking a cigarette … I guess it’s an acquired taste.
After some cooking, I was offered a welcome cup of Serbian coffee. Mila then said she would tell me my fortune from reading the grains in the cup. It wasn’t quite what I expected. Mila and Stana were both talking at a million miles an hour and I suspect they just told me what I wanted to hear! Mila was a lot of fun though and was in high spirits when she showed me how to make her ‘special recipe’. It was a type of rissole known as cufte. They tasted sensational even though they were so simple to make.
The Serbs love to drink rakia. I felt my first taste was literally like drinking fire water. I could feel the fire in my belly. It burned in my stomach and then shot up my torso. And it was incredibly sweet as well because they use a lot of honey in it - I think a third or a quarter of the bottle is emptied into another container, and replaced with honey. Micho told me that he has one of those every morning for breakfast with a coffee – even before he retired, when he was still working. 6.30am each morning he’d get up, have one rakia and one Serbian coffee and then he’d be off to work.
Preparing the pig on the spit was a very funny moment and I couldn’t stop laughing. We had a bit of trouble with the pole which kept getting stuck on its snout. It was very brutal but we couldn’t stop laughing because it was so ridiculous.