ART AND POPULAR CULTURE
Serbian cuisine over the centuries has adopted the tastes and flavors of the Middle Eastern, Turkish, Hungarian, and Austrian foods. Roast suckling pig and lamb are still very much appreciated and served on festive occasions. Serbs are also fond of casserole dishes with or without meat; pies (consisting of meat, cheese, or fruit); all kinds of fried foods, and an assortment of cakes, cookies, and condiments that rival the displays in Vienna and Budapest.
A few representative dishes would be šarma , stuffed cabbage, made from leaves of sour cabbage, or from wine leaves, and chopped beef or veal, often in combination with chopped pork, onions, smoked meat for added flavor; Serbs especially appreciate gibanjica , or pita gibanjica , a cheese pie made with feta or cottage cheese (an American substitute for the cheese used in the homeland), or the combination of both, butter, filo pastry leaves, eggs, and milk. Čevapčići , the summer time favorite for cook-outs, are small barbecued sausage-like pieces, prepared from a combination of freshly chopped pork, lamb, veal, and beef, and served with raw onions.
Serbs like to drink wine, beer, and especially the plum brandy called šljivovica , which is the national drink, made from šljiva , or plums, the Serbian national fruit. Another word for šljivovica is rakija , which is once-distilled plum brandy; twice-distilled šljivovica is called prepečenica . Serbs drink at all kinds of celebrations: weddings, baptisms, and krsna slavas; and every raised glass is accompanied with the exclamation: Živeli , or "Live long." It is not surprising that many Serbs found California to be the perfect place for continuing the family tradition of growing grapes to produce wine, or plums for šljivovica.
Serbian traditional clothing consists of richly embroidered, colorful garments, which are worn today only by the dancers in the folkloric dance ensembles, or perhaps at other events inspired by folk motives, such as picnics, harvests, or church festivals. Each region has its own particular motives and ways of wearing these costumes, making it easy to discern one from another. The typical costume for women from Serbia proper consists of a fine linen blouse richly embroidered with floral or folk motifs; a vest called a jelek , cut low under the breast, made of velvet, embroidered with silver and gold thread, and worn tightly around the waist; an ample colorful skirt accompanied by an embroidered apron and a white linen petticoat worn longer than the skirt to show off the hand-crocheted lace; knitted and embroidered stockings; and a pair of handmade leather slipper-like footwear called opanci . The hair is long and braided; the braids are sometimes worn down the back or twisted in a bun around the head.
The costume for men consists of a head cap called a šajkača , a white linen shirt, a wool jacket, and pants (The jacket is short with sober decorations and the pants are worn tight around the knees.) A richly decorated sash is tied around the waist. Knitted and embroidered socks and opanci (leather shoes) are worn on the feet. The fabrics used were always homegrown, spun, or woven, and the costumes were made at home. The early immigrants stood out in an American crowd by the way their clothes looked, which provided an easy target for ridicule. Today, these costumes have given way to standard dress, and if still in existence, are brought out only at folk festivals.
The Serbian language is part of the Slavic language group to which belong Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Croatian, Bulgarian, and Macedonian. In the seventh century two Greek missionaries, Cyril and Methodius, created the Slavic alphabet, called the Cyrillic, which is still used by the Russians, Serbs, Ukrainians, Bulgarians, and Macedonians. The Old Slavonic, or Staroslovenski, was the original literary language of all the Slavs. It evolved into the Church Slavonic, or Crkvenoslovenski, which in turn engendered the Serb Church Slavonic, the Serb literary language up until the nineteenth century.
In the early nineteenth century Vuk Srefanović Karadjić (1787-1864), who become known as the father of the "modern" Serbian language, reconstructed the alphabet to conform it phonetically with the oral language, thus recognizing the spoken language as the literary language; this resulted in reawakening Serbian culture in general. He published the first Serbian dictionary in 1818, and collected and published volumes of epic and lyrical poetry that had survived in the oral tradition in the Serbian countryside. His voluminous correspondence is an important political and literary document.
Immigrants were confronted with the modification of their language as it came into contact with English, resulting in the incorporation of many English words into everyday use, especially those that were needed to communicate in a more complex society and did not exist in their rural vocabulary. Another American influence can be seen in the fact that many immigrants changed their names for simplification. Often the changing of names was done by either the immigration officers at the time of entry into the United States, or by the employers at the factories or mines who were not accustomed to dealing with complicated Slavic names. At other times, the immigrants themselves opted for simple American names, either for business reasons, or to escape being a target for ridicule. Also, some changes were the result of the immigrants' desire to show loyalty to their adopted country; thus, the names were either simply translated—Ivan into John, Ivanović into Johnson—or the diacritical marks over the letters "ć" and the "š" were dropped and replaced by English-sounding equivalents such as Sasha for Saša and Simich for Simić. About 25 percent of all Serbian Americans declared Serbian as their mother tongue in the 1990 U.S. census.
GREETINGS AND OTHER COMMON EXPRESSIONS
Some basic greetings and sayings in Serbian include: dobro jutro ("dobro yutro")—good morning; dobar dan (pronounced as written)—good day; dobro veče ("dobro vetche")—good evening; zdravo (pronounced as written)—greetings; hvala ("khvala")—thank you; dobro došli ("dobro doshli")—welcome
FILM, TELEVISION, AND THEATER
Actor Karl Malden (born Mladen Sekulovich in 1913) received an Academy Award for his performance in A Streetcar Named Desire in 1951 and was nominated for a second Oscar in 1954 for his work in On the Waterfront . Malden is best known for his starring role in the television series "The Streets of San Francisco," and for his series of television commercials for American Express.
Actor John Malkovich (1954– ) founded the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago. An accomplished film actor as well, Malkovich appeared in such films as Dangerous Liaisons , In the Line of Fire , and Places in the Heart , for which he received an Academy Award nomination.
Steve Tesich (born Stoyan Tesich in 1942) is a well-known screenwriter, playwright, and novelist who received an Academy Award for Best Screenplay in 1979 for Breaking Away . His other screenplays include Eleni, The World According to Garp, and Passing Game .
Novelist and publishing executive William (Iliya) Jovanovich (1920– ) has written many works, including Now, Barabbas (1964), Madmen Must (1978), and A Slow Suicide (1991). Jovanovich is also the president and chief executive officer of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Poet and translator Charles Simic (1938– ) was awarded the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his collection, The World Doesn't End .
Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), "the electrical wizard," astonished the world with his demonstration of the wonders of alternating current at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893; in the first half of the twentieth century, this became the standard method of generating electrical power. Tesla also designed the first hydro-electric power plant in Niagara Falls, New York. Having introduced the fundamentals of robotry, fluorescent light, the laser beam, wireless communication and transmission of electrical energy, the turbine and vertical take-off aircraft, computers, and missile science, Tesla was possibly the greatest inventor the world has ever known. His work spawned technology such as satellites, beam weapons, and nuclear fusion.
Michael Idvorsky Pupin's (1858-1935) scientific contributions in the field of radiology include rapid X-ray photography (1896), which cut the usual hour-long exposure time to seconds; the discovery of the secondary X-ray radiation; and the development of the first X-ray picture used in surgery. His other interests covered the field of telecommunications. The "Pupin coil," which uses alternate current, made long distance telephone lines and cables possible. He also invented the means to eliminate static from radio receivers as well the tuning devises for radios. Pupin successfully experimented with sonar U-boat detectors and underwater radars, as well as the passage of electricity through gases. In addition to his scientific contributions, Pupin was a prominent Serbian patriot. He tirelessly campaigned on behalf of Serbia during World War I. In his Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography From Immigrant to Inventor (1925) Pupin stated: "[I] brought to America something ... which I valued very highly, and that was: a knowledge of and a profound respect and admiration for the best traditions of my race ... no other lesson had ever made a deeper impression upon me." The Pupin Institute at Columbia University was founded in his memory.
Milan Panić (1929– ) founded ICN Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in Pasadena, California. At one time his company employed 6,000 people, with sales of over $150 million. In 1992 Panić served as the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia.
Professional basketball player Pete Maravich (1948-1987) was perhaps best known as "Pistol Pete" Maravich.
John David Brčin (1899-1982) was a sculptor who immigrated to America in 1914. Drawing his inspiration from American subjects, Brcin sculpted busts of President Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, and many others. He also created large reliefs depicting scenes from American history.
by Bosiljka Stevanović