Belgrade / Polet: where to snack blue fish like chips
Even though Serbia is not a country by the sea anymore, the love for fish is very much present. Not only are Serbs very aware of its health impact, they also have a particular period in the year (fastening) where a fish hits the streets and turns into a delicious snack.
We say snack on purpose, as indeed, the small fried fishes that are served only with a slice of lemon, sometimes not even bread, but simply thrown in a paper cone, cannot be really perceived as a proper meal in the eyes of the region. Whenever food is the topic, it always comes with very persuasive opinion on the best choices. Following the recommendation, we ended up at Polet.
A restaurant with long tradition that has been recently renovated, but kept the soul of the selection: mini fried fishes known as girice `Smelt` Eng.) that are bought by gram and made to order. In its essence girice is a blue fish omnipresent in the Adriatic Sea.
It tastes similar to sardines and can reach up to 20 cm in length. If you choose the street style, indulge in your paper cone plentiful of salty, four coated, a bit greasy but heavenly tasty girice. Should you opt for a sit-down experience, the service gets a bit more “up scaled”. A happy bunch of hot girice will be placed on a throne in a shape of an aluminium oval tray or in a porcelain bowl. There will be a few lemon slices placed on a side, a generous basket of white bread, a pile of napkins, set of salt, pepper, oil and vinegar, and cutlery that is not mandatory to be used.
Girice are eaten in one or two bites depending on the size, while in both cases not a single piece should be left behind as it should be eaten like chips.
Apart from the taste and a self-deception of eating something healthy = fish, it is probably more the tradition that adds value to this very simple dish. It is a food of all generations that hasn’t been modernized, neither aesthetically improved.
But it has kept the same smell, the same serving setting and the same taste of good old times and accessible, simple, fresh and savoury food.