Friday, June 02, 2006

Goulash Cook-Off

Last Sunday, Kragujevac had its annual goulash cook-off down by the lake. Naturally, this wasn't something we could miss.

It started at noon, and we arrived around 2 to the tantalizing smell of simmering goulash (and the sight of at least a dozen people dressed in traditional Serbian garb). There were about 30 contestants, including a team from the fire department, and each had set up a metal tripod over a fire. The stew pot hangs on a chain from the top of the tripod. Everyone was mixing and stirring, the goulash was bubbling away, and it all looked delicious.

Unfortunately, nothing was ready to taste when we arrived, so we had lunch at the restaurant next to the lake. I figure the restaurant sponsors the competition - all those yummy smells next door must drum up business.

After lunch we walked around the lake (in the process we found the local lovers' lane - identifiable by the scattering of condom wrappers) and had another look in all the stew pots. We saw people lining up for stew at the firemen's station and we went to see if we could get some. We didn't realize it was a BYOB event (bring your own bowl) so Dan went to the beer stand and got two plastic cups. The goulash was delicious, and the cups were just strong enough to withstand the heat without melting, although it was tough on our fingertips.

A friend joined us in the late afternoon to hear the band (a local group that covers rock standards). We sat and rocked out until the concert was interrupted by a huge fight. A group of guys were hitting and kicking one guy (even when he was down), really pounding on him. I don't know what started it, but most people had been drinking all afternoon. It was shocking for me - it was the first time I've seen people trying to harm each other in earnest. When it became clear that people were joining the fight instead of breaking it up, we moved on for some frisbee.

It was a beautiful, sunny day to spend down by the lake, enjoying some local fare, although by the end we were a bit dazed by the sun. Nothing a few cocktails at Buena Vista couldn't fix, though.

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