This article was developed within the program Venture an Idea funded by the USAID.
There is something about old crafts and handmade products in general, which transports us right back into a time capsule, and impresses us with a strong sense of real human interaction. Old crafts undoubtedly bring back memories, calling for everything that once was, or merely some fragments, evoking adventures, the books that we read, films that we watched, stories and music that we listened to. On top of that, handmade objects look good â€“ they are not all identical, and their small imperfections excite us! As if these tiny and unpredictable flaws make everything more convincing and alive.
Have you ever dreamt of a day spent in a candy factory? You can partly fulfill this dream in Belgrade. The neighborhood of Zeleni Venac is the home of this cityâ€™s only working small factory of handmade candy, known under the name of BombondĹľija (Serbian word for candy-making craftsman). Truth be told, it is not actually a factory, but it is indeed a one hundred years old family-owned candy-making facility. So, for a century now, this family has been making candies, bonbons, lollypops and Turkish delight. Each Sunday, they wake up at dawn and begin to make Turkish delight â€“ soft, aromatic and jellied oriental sweet which is usually taken with coffee or tea. This Turkish delight is made in an almost endless range of different flavors, including virtually anything that you can imagine. This sweet is usually vegan (though there are some varieties made with dairy cream) and the favorite flavors include the traditional rose and walnut, as well as pistachio, plum, pineapple, mintâ€¦ It is good to know that the recipe of this Belgrade candy master is different from the Turkish recipe, so their Turkish delight is much softer and less sweet. What else can you try in this small factory/museum? Hard and silky sweet candies in different flavors, shapes and colors, or refreshing soft and spicy/hot candy, made on the machines dating back to WWI. In this atmosphere which is almost reminiscent of a museum, not even the packaging has changed.
Take a walk to Zeleni Venac and in Gavrila Principa Street no. 14, you will find a wooden shop window, brimming with sweet-smelling Turkish delight of different flavors, colorful variety of hard candy and festive lollypops of various shapes. Here you can also find famous Licitar hearts, a traditional decorative biscuits ornamented with tiny mirrors which used to be sold at fairs and carnivals, and gifted to oneâ€™s sweetheart. This sweet ornament is made of flour and honey in its edible version, but be aware that it is sometimes made only as decoration when some gypsum is added in to make the biscuit sturdier.
Try soft milky caramels, umbrella lollypops, spicy candy and rose-flavored Turkish delight, and chase after a white rabbit, just like Alice. Welcome to Belgrade. Oh, and one more thing: this small dreamy place is a good source of sweet gifts when you want to surprise your friends.