Potkozarje Bjelčić Corn

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Bjelčić is an ancient white corn variety known in the Kozara foothill region (Potkozarje in local language), sustained through seed sharing by home growers. Since the variety has never been subject to breeding, the traits vary. Bjelčić gets its name from its characteristic white kernel (bijel means white in local language). The stalk is not very robust and corn breeders agree that it “does not like its neighbors”, since other plants or stalks growing nearby interfere with its growth. However, consociation with climbing beans called trkljanac is quite customary.

Up until the 1950s, the scenery of this region, rich in both running waters and forests, used to be picturesquely adorned with many watermills. Various types of cooperative ownership of the mills were widespread. Since ušur (grain-processing charge, paid in flour in privately-owned mills) was high, peasants would partner up and build their own joint property watermills. These watermills were called poredovnički, meaning "in turn”, because corn kernels were ground by several families, each taking its own turn to grind, look after, and maintain the mill. Unfortunately, very few of the mills have withstood the test of time. The idiom, “to draw water to one’s mill”, meaning skillfully arrange the circumstances to one’s own benefit, has survived to be used actively.

This special corn variety is used to prepare a wide range of traditional dishes with cornbread or corn milk. Some of these dishes are cicvara, a part of the Serbian Orthodox Christmas breakfast; pura or žganci, a local kind of polenta; šen, a dish cooked for a long period of time, made out of coarse-ground corn meal.

In 2016, very few families continued to grow this corn, generally only for personal or family consumption. It is still grown the old way; fertilized with manure, thinned out and hoed manually two to three times. Once a staple food, nowadays bjelčić almost disappeared from households and it is hardly ever offered at restaurants.

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Cereals and flours

Nominated by:Snježana Đuričić