Bread and baked goods - North Macedonia
Свадбарски Чурек This bread is connected with wedding traditions and originates from the village of Ilovica, located in the foothills of Mt. Ograzden. No one wedding event could be imagined without this specific product, which contains a local variety of rye called ilovichki. This rye flour is mixed with a traditional variety of corn flour (mumruska bela), along with wheat flour, fresh cow’s milk, butter, salt, eggs and yeast. The dough is kneaded for a period, left to rest, kneaded a second time, and then baked in a 220°C oven. The bread is formed into a particular design connected with the wedding festivities. At the wedding lunch, the bride traditional breaks off pieces of the bread for her new husband and in-laws. The name churek comes from an adaptation of the world churan, which refers to the particular shape of the bread, described as looking like “open turkey wings.” Over time, this bread became specifically associated only with wedding ceremonies, and only in the area of Mt. Ograzden. Wedding churek is not prepared or sold by commercial bakeries, but instead made in the home of the bride’s family. Although many customs have declined overall in Macedonia, they are still strongly present at the regional level. These also include telling of “woven” stories and singing songs during the wedding ceremony. The preparation of wedding churek also keeps alive the cultivation of the ilovichki rye. For the people near Mt. Ograzden, this bred represents the openness and grace with which a bride accepts her husband’s family, and is an important part of the local culture. However, as already seen in other areas, this culinary tradition is threatened with a loss of traditional culture in the area overall.