The Australian Constitution gives Parliament, inter alia, “ power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth”. One of its better efforts is the Standard for the uniform scheduling of drugs and poisons, which lists, in Schedules 8 and 9, items like heroin, LSD, methamphetamine, and cannabis. Fortunately, the mandarins have yet to discover ayvar.
Ayvar is my latest fave rave foodstuff. It is a capsicum paste, used as a sauce or relish in Balkan cooking. And it is seriously addictive.
I have seen this in the supermarket for years, but not taken any notice of it. I first tasted it at a Balkan eatery in Lilyfield, imaginatively called The Balkan Eatery. It’s run by a friendly Bosnian couple from Mostar (the bridge) and Sarajevo (Franz Ferdinand). All the Balkan classics — grilled lamb and chicken, stuffed capsicums, cabbage rolls, sensational plum jam biscuits — are here. But the great discovery, the must-try menu item, is a bread roll, stuffed full of grilled chevapi sausages, and dressed with ayvar. It is wondrous, a revelation of how good a sausage sandwich can be. Forget the netball girls outside Bunnings on Saturday — this is the snag sanger to die for. And at least part of its charm comes from the ayvar sauce.
Ayvar is brick red, spicy, and comes in mild or hot versions. You can use it as a relish on grilled lamb or other meat. I love it scooped on an egg with toast. The soft, bland, eggy egg and the spicy, umami-like relish — unforgettable! The perfect Sunday breakfast, along with the papers and good coffee. I also use it on pasta — make a Napoletana-type sauce, substituting ayvar for tomatoes. I have studded mine with a few black olives and capers.
This is a great foodstuff — A Good Sauce. There is lots of scope to experiment with ayvar. Just do it soon, before this much fun is outlawed
* My Sauce Good is a bright new Sydney band playing “addictive French Swing, original tunes, soulful Latin-American folksong, a haunting Hebrew lullaby, Bohemian Jazz from the 1920’s onwards and contemporary songs given a new lease of life”. Think gypsies, Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grapelli, continental cafes ... Some of their material has a real Balkans feel. Listen! And thank you to La Fanciulla for the heads up about this great band, and the wonderful CD!