I see that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will be taking their Democratic roadshow to Flint, Michigan—my hometown—on March 6. They will be holding a debate there (location TBD), invariably to do grandstanding and waxing lyrical about what a tragedy has befallen Flint. Read more
KIKINDA, Serbia-It’s a familiar sight to the residents of Kikinda, Serbia: people of all ages and descriptions standing under the trees that line the town’s large square, looking ridiculous as they cock their heads back, mouths agape, fingers counting in the air. I dubbed it the “Kikinda stance,” and my husband, Vladimir, and I perfected it recently on a visit to the town.
What is everyone counting? Birds. A picturesque town of about 40,000 people less than 10 miles from the Romanian border, Kikinda is home to the planet’s largest roosting population of long-eared owls. Every year from early November until the middle of March, hundreds of them roost each day in the trees of the square. Read more
VIENTIANE, LAOS— Lao Textiles is a must-stop for visitors to Vientiane, the lovely, if somewhat sleepy capital of Laos. It offers everything from gorgeous silk weaved scarves to tablecloths and silk tapestries to frame or hang on the wall, and it employs more than 40 local Lao women, who create the exquisite pieces on weaving looms in a workshop at the back of the shop. Read more
LONDON–BETSIE, MY ADORED and spoiled black Labrador, has just come back from wintering in Serbia. A proper Londoner, she was born in Hampstead and spent the first nine months of her life traipsing around north London, learning to swim—avoiding those territorial swans and ducks—in the ponds on Hampstead Heath. But when my husband had to go back home to Serbia for several months, while his spousal visa to the U.K. was being processed, he refused, point blank, to leave without Betsie.
I was hesitant about taking her, because I knew that transporting pets in and out of the European Union could be stressful—though, luckily, the U.K. got rid of its archaic six-month quarantine laws in 2012. However, he was insistent, so we started looking into all the requirements for both getting her out of the U.K. and across the EU to a non-EU country, and then for getting her back to London. Read more
LONDON–DURING A RECENT stint living in central Serbia, I became obsessed with kajmak, which, if you can imagine, is like a lovechild between cream cheese and salty French butter. Made from the skimmed fat of cows’ milk and then mixed with salt, its consistency can vary from rather runny and milky (new) to more like clotted cream (old).
My mother-in-law and her sisters run some sort of kajmak mafia in their hometown of Kraljevo: There are frenzied meetings to discuss which of the sisters—or their one friend they also allow in on their operation—will make the kajmak pick-up, how much they will pay and how they will transport it (each sister seems to have a specific kajmak plastic container they use).
By the way, there is a huge debate in Serbia about whether the kajmak from Kraljevo or Čačak is the best.