“I think you should try and make that stuffed capsicum thing your mum used to make. That was amazing.”
“Yes. I loved that.”
“I am not the steam off the steam off my mum’s pee when it comes to cooking. And she, bless her, was not even in the same steamy piss universe as her mum…”
“How hard can it be? It’s stuffed fucken capsicum. There is no polenta involved. My mum used to make it too. But she used a pressure cooker.”
“She’s Slovenian and she fucken cheated! The Serbs could not afford such high-tech luxuries! I shall find a traditional recipe and make it the right way…”
This was my first problem. There are maybe 50 different recipes for this traditional dish on the Internet. There’s a Croatian version with added Catholicism. There’s a Slovenian version with lashings of mountain Catholicism. There’s a Macedonian version with overtures of Greece and Bulgaria interfering with its purity. And there’s a Bosnian version which excludes pork because of Allah. Then there are like five different Serbian versions, and about 30 versions in English on various cooking sites, none of which can be credible because none of them mention Vegeta – the holy and sacred Balkan spice first discovered a hundred years before King Lazar was killing Ottomans on the Kosovo Field in 1389.
I read them all. It made my head hurt. And my mind was a jumble of methods and recipes as I wandered around the supermarket buying the ingredients.
Then I commenced, with Lynette acting as my sous chef, a critical role she’d adopted since the beginning of our relationship 748 years ago, when she saw what a cataclysm I create in the kitchen when I cook.
To this day, she refuses to acknowledge my instructions with a hearty “Yes, chef!” but we make it work.
“What do you want me to do?”
“Wash the capsicums and get out the ingredients.”
“I have already cooked the rice.”
“It doesn’t say to use cooked rice.”
“Every recipe I looked at said to use cooked rice.”
“Only some of the ones I looked at said that. And what are you doing looking at recipes? I’m the chef. I look at recipes. This is not a fucken recipe-looking democracy.”
“Shut the fuck up, you mad cunt. You have no idea what you’re doing. You’re not even following the recipe you have there.”
“That’s just for general guidance. I’m doing this from a genetic base. Punjena Paprika is in my DNA.”
“What are you doing with these tomatoes?”
“I’m gonna use them to plug the tops of the capsicums when I fill them with the rice and meat.”
“Your mother never used tomatoes. Why are you turning the oven on?”
“I think I need to put them in the oven after I cook them on the stove for a while.”
“Your mother never put them in the oven. You have no fucken idea, do you?”
“Give me the sweet paprika. No, the sweet paprika. That is not the sweet paprika.”
“What’s the difference?”
“Oh my God! The difference is vast! Smoked paprika is wrong. Hot paprika is wrong. Normal fucken paprika is even wronger.”
“Where did you read that?”
“On one of the Serbian sites. We know paprika. We went to war over paprika with someone once.”
“You’re like mad bears. You go to war with everyone over everything.”
Boris is a writer who has contributed to many magazines and websites over the years, edited a couple of those things as well, and written a few books. But his most important contribution is pissing people off. He feels this is his calling in life and something he takes seriously. He also enjoys whiskey, whisky and the way girls dance on tables. And riding motorcycles. He's pretty keen on that, too.