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Maša makes… Serbian stuffed courgettes (Punjene tikvice)

On the menu today, we have stuffed courgettes, “punjene tikvice” in Serbocroatian. Maša, who is in her 2nd semester of Physics at LMU, is in the kitchen of her college apartment, preparing the minced-beef-and-vegetable filling. “Popular Serbian dishes tend to have lots of meat,” Maša explains, “and many of them are stews - but it’s too hot for a stew today.”

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„Maša often cooks for her colleagues and friends, but it’s hot today, and her guests are sitting about her in the communal kitchen watching her at work. Maša has politely refused offers to help her: “I’m used to cooking on my own,” she says. “That’s how it is in Serbia: The guests arrive, eat what’s on the table – and then leave. Nobody would dream of offering to help or even to clear the table afterwards, and no host expects it of them.” 

This evening, Maša‘s mentor is among her guests. ”I think it’s a nice way to thank him for what he has done for me,” she says. “And, in the beginning, he really helped me a lot,” she says as the succulent aromas of meat and garlic waft through the kitchen. Indeed, mentor Philipp (20) himself knows what it is like to find oneself alone in an unfamiliar environment. He began his own studies in Holland, moving to Munich only later on. “When I first arrived, I had no idea how things worked. I didn’t know how to go about borrowing books from the library or getting a catering card, or where one could eat out cheaply in Munich,” he recalls. “That’s why I was keen on helping students who had just moved to Munich to study - and didn’t know the city or the University - to find their way around. And you know, when one begins to study in a strange city, the tips that help most are about the small things.“

As soon as the aromatic courgettes appear on the table, Maša’s guests suddenly emerge from their lethargy and are wide awake. And not only does the dish smell good, it looks a picture too. “It looks like something a Michelin chef might have produced,” says Philipp admiringly, “and it tastes like that too,” he adds.“ 

Not only that, Maša also has a mouthwatering dessert ready for her guests: a raspberry tart, the base of which is made with coarse durum. “That’s another typically Serbian combination,” she says. “At home, raspberries are what apples are in Germany – you can get them at all times of the year. In fact, guests in Serbia tend to be disappointed if one serves “only” something made with raspberries. And this dessert doesn’t have a fancy name. I just call it ‘Julia‘s tart’”, Maša adds, “because I got the recipe from a friend of that name.“

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