Feature: "Simple As Beans" festival celebrated in Serbian town
2018-06-10 11:46:00

People slowly stir around 2,000 litres of white kidney beans' soup in a giant cauldron during the "Simple As Beans" festival in Temerin, Serbia, on June 9, 2018. Thousands of people gathered on Saturday in Serbia's northern town of Temerin to celebrate the "Simple As Beans" festival. (Xinhua/Wang Huijuan)

TEMERIN, Serbia, June 9 -- Thousands of people gathered on Saturday in Serbia's northern town of Temerin to celebrate the "Simple As Beans" festival.

As a "primitive" dish, pasulj made of white kidney beans is almost on every household table across Serbia. Rather than using "a piece of cake", Serbians use the phrase of "simple as pasulj" to describe something easy.

In Temerin, hundreds of amateur cooks have been competing in preparing the dish for a decade.

On Saturday the festival gathered 189 teams at the fairground in Temerin, each with eight members. On an open wood fire, they competed for the best pasulj in terms of the color (yellowish-brown), density, greasiness and flavoring.

On one side of the fairground, a giant cauldron with around 2,000 litres of the dish slowly boiled, while Bruno Skeledzija, an official cook of the festival, stirred it patiently. After some four hours of cooking, it was served to hundreds of people waiting in a line.

"In this cauldron we put meat of two piglets weighing around 200 kg of meat, 200 kg of white kidney beans, 100 kg of onions, and we also add green hot pepper, carrots. We are cooking in the giant cauldron for the ninth consecutive year," Skeledzija told Xinhua.

For Skeledzija, this is the ninth consecutive year of preparing the massive dish at the festival, and although cooking for him is just a hobby, he said that over time his team perfected a recipe that suits the taste of the local.

He agreed that the traditional passion of Serbians for cooking outdoors on an open fire continued to live in the form of festivals such as "Simple As Beans", where people can get together and have fun.

Tamara Site, director of the local tourist organization told Xinhua that around 7,000 people visit the one-day festival, which is a success for the small town of Temerin.

According to her, pasulj is not the only attraction of the festival. People come here to enjoy cultural program, including some odd but funny sporting competitions named "Temerin Games", and a big pasulj-related charity event.

As pasulj in hundreds of cauldrons was slowly being cooked by skillful hands of amateur chefs, audience covered in veil of smoke was entertained by performances of children singing and dancing on the main stage, followed by one of the oddest sporting competitions in Serbia, including a race of husbands carrying their wives.

The atmosphere at competitor's stands was also cheerful, with team members together with their friends enjoying music of live folk orchestras that circle among them and entertain the crowds.

Goran Boskovic, a local businessman said that for him this was "a really nice manifestation, and a chance to spend a great time with people".

Milan, Boskovic's guest and business partner from Czech Republic told Xinhua that "In Czech Republic we also prepare pasulj, but it is nothing like this here. We are very satisfied to see that people here are preparing pasulj so much," he said.

Zlatibor Sekulic, a Serbian who has lived 50 years in Vienna could not hide his excitement after visiting the festival for the first time. "One friend told me: Let's go to a place, it's a surprise. I ask him, where to? To Temerin, he says. When I saw this here, I was amazed. Something like this cannot be found elsewhere, even in Vienna. Believe me, I am 75 years old, so I know."

The recipe of pasulj is indeed very simple. Even children here know that garlic, onions, fresh and smoked meat together with vegetables would make a pasulj after several hours of cooking.

But if it is such "a piece of cake", or "simple as pasulj", what makes this festival so special?

Chef Skeledzija has a unique observation. "Any food tastes fantastic when you are in the right company," said the chef, hinting that "togetherness" is the magical ingredient.

Source: Xinhua Editor: Nicky