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Sarajevo cake shop rises from ashes

Sarajevo had been dreaming of it for 15 years: a moist, dense cube of thin pastry and hazelnut cream, skilfully layered, then drizzled with chocolate glaze by the master patissiers of the Jadranka bakery.

by: Reuters: Daria Sito-Sucic | 09 Jul 2007

The pastry shop was a Sarajevo landmark, and so was its signature 'Bohem' cake.

Boarded up when war erupted in 1992 and the Bosnian capital came under siege, Jadranka was lamented but never forgotten.

When it re-opened, it was instantly mobbed by nostalgic customers lining up for the taste of their childhood, a time before the three-year war divided Bosnians into Muslims, Serbs, and Croats, leaving no room for simple pleasures.

"It's unbelievable. Every day people come to congratulate me, to thank me. Some of them are crying," said Aleksandar Bukvic, 58, who returned from Canada to his old place at the same corner where his parents welcomed customers every day since 1956.

The shop, in the Grbavica part of the city, has been renovated, but the staff is the same. They are working round the clock to meet the demand, constantly serving up cakes to the smiling customers, who chat cheerfully in patient queues.

"I craved Bohems from Jadranka when I was pregnant in New Zealand," said Biljana Meduric, visiting relatives in her native Sarajevo for the summer.

Recipe Secrets

The recipes have been in the family for years. Bukvic's father was an apprentice to German pastry masters in the Serbian province of Vojvodina before World War Two.

The secrets of the sweet treats of the Austro-Hungarian empire moved with him to Sarajevo where he opened his own shop, then passed on to his children.

Jadranka shut down in April 1992, when Bosnian Serb forces occupied Grbavica and the shooting started. During the grim, 43-month siege of the city, the area became a byword for the killing, rape and torture of Sarajevo's non-Serb population.

But the memory of Jadranka remained, and for years people explained where they live in Grbavica with the shop as reference point, even though it was by then just an empty shell.

"I think that people here also appreciate that a Serb from Sarajevo returned here, where he belongs, and not to Banja Luka or some other Serb-dominated town," he said.

His customers agree.

"Now there is hope for Sarajevo," one delighted woman said at the opening.

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