“Cooking is like painting or writing a song. Just as there are only so many notes or colors, there are only so many flavors—it’s how you combine them that sets you apart.” – Wolfgang Puck
The Macedonian cuisine is rich, diverse and gourmet, in the real meaning of the word and every region has its own characteristic specialties after which we recognize it. Today’s story comes from the region of Kratovo and it is a story of a young man Mladen Micevski who is one of the best promoters of this region.
Mladen is 27 years old and he works as a professor of professional subjects from the catering and tourism sector in the high school in Kratovo. He teaches students whose qualification is catering technician for rural tourism, and his main focus is on the National Gastronomy and the traditional Macedonian and local specialties.
Together with his students he often participates in events that promote Kratovo’s traditional cuisine and its customs’ but also he is a good local tourist guide who knows how to satisfy the desire of the curious customers. His passion is cooking the traditional dishes of Kratovo, especially the specific dishes of this region which are a mystery for the tourists.
By mentioning the Kratovo specialties, what comes first on his mind is the traditional pastry from the region of Kratovo – pastrmajlija, which is one of the many specialties of this region. That range of Kratovo specialties includes the Manti with minced meat known as the queen of pies on the Balkan, the poppy seed salt, the triangular sarma from vine leaf, the polenta (kacamak), the traditional Macedonian pie – zelnik, bodenik – another traditional Macedonian pie and many more different types of pie, the madjun – traditional Macedonian syrup made of grape which is used as a remedy, the home-made dairy products, the traditional baklava, and not to forget the brandy ( rakija) and the wine from Kratovo.
Something that fascinates the young professor is cooking in an authentic Macedonian setting using the traditional kitchen utensils and equipment such as (peer, sadzak – is a metal tripod above the hearth – a fire that carries a vessel (kettle, cauldron) in which something is cooked, copper pots and pans, oven, kettles, etc.). Among the last activities he realized with the students was the preparation of beans with lamb in large pots on a sadzak in front of a public gathering in the neighborhood of Veljanovec, in the village of Gorno Kratovo.
As a tourist guide, in his cultural and historical tours of Kratovo, he also includes the traditional cuisine of this region for a better promotion of the region itself. Mladen has a great cooperation with a local restaurant and the ethno house “Shanceva” and Mr. Stevce Donevski, who you maybe remember from the story about him we wrote recently. Also he has collaboration with Mrs. Liljana Mijalkova who has made an ethno corner in her home, where you can find all the traditional cooking utensils still fully usable.
Mladen says that what almost every tourist has said is that local food is something irreplaceable, and foreign tourists are always delighted with local specialties, especially when locally produced groceries are used in their preparation. And something they cannot resist is the excellent taste of the tomatoes and of course the home-made cheese.
Presenting the local gastronomy, the rich cultural-historical heritage that dates back to before the new era, including the panoramic walks around the hills and mountains in Kratovo, promoting the natural rarities in the town and the villages are just some of the activities implemented for the development of the rural tourism in Kratovo. Kratovo, but also the villages have a huge potential for the development of the rural tourism and Mladen believes that the only thing that is missing now is a coordinating body that will help in this development.
According to Mladen, tourists are always delighted with everything that Kratovo has to offer, they cannot even believe how we have not used this potential yet. While visiting Kratovo, the tourists can hear a new interesting story and see a new natural or cultural building on every step.