Burek in Ljubljana
Burek in Ljubljana appeared through the former republics of Yugoslavia. Otherwise, it originated in Turkey from where it spread during the Ottoman Empire. The etymology of the name is based on the Turkish word bur, which means wrapped. The dish itself consists of phyllo dough – yufka in which various fillings are wrapped. It is basically beef (the only real burek for a Bosnian), but there are versions with cheese, potatoes, spinach, zucchini, without filling, … served with yogurt.
Burek is said to have first appeared in Slovenia in the 1960s. It certainly existed here in the 70s. The first shops with this dish were near the military barracks, where mostly recruits from other republics were housed. These catering facilities were organized in kiosks and in a fast-food manner. These were mainly Albanian owners from Kosovo and Macedonia. This delicious dish was cheap and available at all possible hours. Soon it became popular with the local population and pushed out the rest of the fast-food offer.
In 50 years of existence of burek in Ljubljana, it has become and remains a popular dish during evening outings. If we get a guest from abroad, we take him to burek, to a typical midnight snack in Ljubljana. In the 90s, it wasn’t pushed out by pizza and burgers (McDonald’s) or 10 years later with kebabs, they just added new dishes to the offer. In addition to the classic kiosks, burek moves to ćevapđinice, it is produced by bakeries (larger Žito, Pečjak, Mlinotest, and small ones in all neighborhoods), it even appears as a snack in primary school.
After all these years, there has been a fusion of cuisine from East and West. Definitely, the most famous is the pizza burek, where the dough is filled with a topping from the pizza. The inventor is said to be Dino Murtezani in the mid-90s. This new type of burek has attracted many followers. But for me, it is somehow among the exotics, like Hawaii pizza. In addition to this invention, there have been other attempts at creativity in culinary fusion, e.g. ‘Slovenian burek’ stuffed with sauerkraut and sausage.
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Burek in Ljubljana pop culture
Of course, such a dish is woven into the fabric of the city where it is so popular. One of the most famous mentions is the song Sirni & mesni – AliEn (Dalaj Eegol) from 1994. Jerenej Mlekuž even dedicated the book, Burek.si (2008) to this topic. From the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo came saying: Jurek we love you more than burek (Jure Franko won a silver medal in the giant slalom).
The insult ‘You don’t have for a burek’ tells you that you don’t have a chance or that you are poor. There was a famous sign on one of the kiosks: Today there is no burek at all, the stove is broken. It was also a joke that you asked the seller if there were fresh pigeons today when you ordered the meat burek. They were also opponents of burek and what it represents. The most famous was the graffiti Burek, nein danke!
Where is the best burek in Ljubljana – Nobel or Olimpija?
Burek in Ljubljana today can be found at almost every step, in every quarter. We, seniors, remember the burek at the ‘štacion’ – the main bus station from where it disappeared in the 90s. Of course, bureks differ in shape, taste, and also in price. You will get a better burek definitely in a restaurant, but if we’re talking about a fast-food choice, soon all the debates end in a comparison of the two:
Nobel (main location is at Mikošič street, seceond is at Fair ground and third on crossroad between Slovenska anŠubičeva street) and Olimpija burek. Both have a long tradition (Olympia since ’79) and their followers. Nobel has shape a kind of spiral and Olympia is a quarter of a circle where the dough is folded in layers. The dough is thinner in Nobel and more crunchy in Olympia. My choice is definitely Nobel because it is more aesthetic, easier to eat and, last but not least, tastier. There are definitely a lot of people who would disagree with me. Write your opinion in the comment.