"Babes in Belgrade"
An expat's parental musings on life in the White City
I relish the changing of the seasons.
The changing weather changes the city, the way it works, the way it looks, the way people behave.
And, importantly, the snack foods on offer. We have moved from the cosy winter treat of roasted chestnuts with their tempting, glowing braziers, fast-forwarded through the spring when salty pop-corn comes into its own, and now seem to be firmly established in ice-cream season.
One thing my children really appreciate about Belgrade is the way that it is almost impossible to move more than 200m without finding someone to sell them ice-cream. Semi-permanent ice-cream freezers are a common sight along the streets and in the parks. And in this year's battle for the hearts, minds and stomachs of the younger set there are some colourful highlights.
The Hello Kitty is exactly what you would expect. It's pink. And shiny. And shaped like a kitty. I'm mildly amazed they didn't manage to put glitter on it somewhere. They did add a free sticker, a winner in any battle for the loyalty of a small child.
Working the same free sticker magic, Spiderman is a surprisingly detailed ice-cream. And while I may personally find a strawberry and vanilla super hero a bit incongruous, my kids don't seem to have the same qualms.
SpongeBob on the other hand, is a travesty. Someone in marketing was probably really happy when they realized there actually was a rectangular cartoon character. Simple production, what could be better? But the trouble with a rectangular character is that if you put in no effort it just looks like a rectangular ice-cream. And there is no effort. Not even the free sticker can save it.
Much more fun is the banana ice-cream, which comes with gummy skin that you can actually peel. Well, as long as you wait for it to get a little warmer, start dripping and give it a helpful bite or two at the top to get going. So not perfect if you want clean kids and effortless peace for a couple of minutes, but as a marketing ploy it's pretty irresistible. Indeed, it's my pick of the bunch.
Which I guess brings us to the other culturally important thing to know when buying your kids treats in summertime Belgrade. Every country has their little health quirks, and in Serbia the main one is simple - cold is dangerous. Belgrade is the only city where I've been refused ice-cream on the grounds that "it is too cold for a little girl." It was substituted with a "less cold" ice-cream instead. The same goes for drinks, fridge-cold is too cold for youngsters, which explains the constant questioning about whom exactly the drink is intended for, and the rustling to bring out a "not cold" beverage from under the table.
For me, there are two main survival strategies in this situation. You can just train your kids to enjoy luke-warm beverages and appreciate the fact that you are living in a society where children's welfare is the responsibility of the whole community and where people care about each other. Or you can lie, say the cold drinks are for you and make sure you drink them out of sight of the vendor. Whichever way you tackle it, it's a small price to pay for a balmy, ice-cream filled day in Belgrade.
Things to do this weekend
- Second-hand Sale of baby and child things. At International Nursery School Belgrade (INSB) Temisvarska 2 Senjak, Saturday 12th 10:00-13:00
- Australia at the Zoo. Food, children's activities, jumping castle, stage show, giant koala and more. At Belgrade Zoo, Sunday 13th May 11:00-15:00
- Mathematics Month interactive display. Lots of hands on activities for children of all ages, (explanations in Serbian, but most are quite self-explanatory). Until May 26, Beogradanka building on Knez Mihailova (opposite the tourist info).
*No adults were harmed in the writing of this blog post, as they made their children do all the taste testing on their behalf. Surprisingly, the children did not seem to feel abused by this state of affairs, so on balance this is probably a cruelty-free post.
Trish is an Australian entering into her third year in Belgrade with her husband, 2 children and a number of fish. She does not actually really like ice-cream. She does, however, like Belgrade.
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Thanks to its excellent service, charm and warmth, Tribeca can
legitimately be called one of the best of Belgrade's many exclusive
restaurants. The blend of the best of local and international
cuisine, the rich wine list and fine ambiance is sure to leave an
impression. First time visitors, easily won over by the aromas,