The great variety in Serbia’s cuisine originates from its geographical, national and cultural diversity, and the jigsaw of centuries of population changes. Influences on Serbian cuisine have been rich and varied – it first began as a mixture of Greek, Bulgarian, Turkish and Hungarian cooking.An old erbian legend says that during the time of the 14th-century Serbian Empire, under the rule of Stefan Uroš IV Dušan, meals in the Serbian palace were eaten with golden spoons and forks. Historians say that mediaeval Serbian cuisine mainly consisted of milk, dairy produce and vegetables. Not a lot of bread was eaten, but when it was, the rich ate bread made from wheat and the poor ate bread made from oats and rye. The only meat consumed was game, with cattle kept for agricultural use.
Beef prosciutto, kajmak, ajvar, cicvara (a type of polenta made from flour, eggs, butter and cheese), rose-petal slatko (a sweet preserve) and other specialities made with dried plums are considered native Serbian foods.Dough-based foods, such as breads, strudels and pasta, and various kinds of processed meats produced from healthy stocks of cattle and poultry are characteristic of modern day Vojvodina. Spinach pies and spit-roast pork are characteristic of Šumadija. Smoked meat is the speciality of western Serbia and the lamb dishes of Zlatibor and Zlatar are not to be missed. The cuisine of eastern Serbia is noted for its dry shepherd’s pies, lamb cooked in milk, smoked wild boar meat, janjija with three kinds of meat and various vegetables, and Homolj kačamak (a regional type of polenta made from cornmeal, potato and sometimes feta cheese). In southern Serbia grilled or spit-roasted meat dishes, particularly the famous Leskovac grilled specialities, are very popular. Hundreds of tasty dishes, both vegetarian and meat-based, are eaten in Kosovo and Metohija: bingur, pirjanice, various pies and baklava, as well as lamb and mutton specialities.