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Full Stomach is a Full Heart

Jaelen Full Stomach Is A Full Heart 1

Jaelen G., YES Abroad 2019-2020, Bosnia and Herzegovina

This month was jam packed with travel, school, and coffee. However, the seemingly most important part of life here in the Balkans is food. The first question I am asked every time I come home is, “Are you hungry?” or, “Have you eaten?” Food here is a way of connecting with people. Birthdays, holidays, a cool accomplishment? Everything is celebrated with food.

My host mom always emphasizes the importance of domestic foods. When we go get milk or cheese, it is usually from a family that is close by. A few weeks ago, we went and picked grapes from our neighbors’ home and then made some awesome grape juice! For our fruits and vegetables, we go to Tržnica or to the local market, where there are many different vendors and they charge by the kilo. The effort to get domestic foods is amazing, and I can definitely sense the difference in taste. Last month, I got to help with the making of some foods to celebrate my host grandma’s, mom’s, and sister’s birthdays. My family was the one to host everyone for a joint party, so that morning our house was busy. We started bright and early cleaning and cooking. We made maslenica (spinach and cheese layered pie), fresh salad, platters of cheese and meats, sausages, cookies, muffins, and cakes. We, of course, enjoyed this with coffee and our homemade grape juice.

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Along with these tasty birthday celebrations, my host mom was able to make a very-close-to-traditional Thanksgiving meal for the American family she works for and share it with us as well! This was an awesome and unexpected experience I’m happy I got to share with so many people. For this and so many opportunities, I can’t even begin to explain how thankful I am.