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Kajmak on wooden plate

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.

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secret-suppers

I was 8 years old when I hosted my first dinner party. I invited my best friend, Caryn, and her sister over for dinner (on a school night, even!), and my mom and I slaved away making chili and homemade brownies. In the end it was not so much about the food—we had to order in pizza because the chili turned out to be too spicy for our childish palates—but more about the thrill of having people over. I still love a rousing dinner party, and so I was intrigued to learn about a trend making the rounds from London to Lima: underground supper clubs. These clubs—some call them guerrilla restaurants—usually meet in people’s homes, where cooking enthusiasts prepare and serve dinner to strangers in exchange for a small monetary contribution toward the meal. In Cuba, these meals are called paladares and have been a cottage industry for decades. In the United States they’ve become popular over the past few years, with clubs like California’s Ghetto Gourmet—started by foodie Jeremy Townsend—spawning chapters in New York and Chicago after he took it on tour around the country. This summer the trend has taken off like viral wildfire across Europe; Caterer and Hotelkeeper magazine recently dubbed these places “21st-century speakeasies with foie gras instead of bootleg brandy.” Read more