German-French ARTE TV program “at the table” travels to Macedonia to discover a rich heritage of local cuisine, including the Bukovo Pepper. The episode features Slow Food Presidium producer Ilinka Glavevska and her family, who explain its preparation and use in local dishes. We’re certain you will enjoy it!
In Macedonian cuisine, the pepper reigns supreme. They can be found in colorful abundance at farmers’ markets across the country and of course they are featured in a great deal of Macedonian dishes, including its most wide-spread specialty—ajvar pepper cream. But arguably, none is more special than the Bukovo red pepper.
The Bukovo pepper, once on the brink of extinction, was recognized by Slow Food Foundation and has been supported by establishing a local Presidium of about 10 producers. Activities helping to keep the pepper alive include a festival that takes place several times a year. Participants exchange traditional recipes and learn growing methods. As well, Slow Food gives presentations and helps with packaging and promotion to make the product more profitable for farmers.
After being dried—threaded on a string and hung up alongside farm buildings for about three months—this aromatic variety is often crushed into powder or flakes so that it can be used to season traditional dishes such as Tavce Gravce (baked beans) and solilo (cooked tomato and pepper dip). The peppers are still crushed by hand using a traditional tool much like a large mortar and pestle, in order to ensure quality and retain the aroma that reminds locals of their childhood.
This short documentary beautifully illustrates the cultural and culinary significance of the Bukovo—it’s worth a look.