Food for Thought-Excuse Me, Do You Have Any Montenegrin Jam? (The Fifth Letter)


28 April 1957
Belgrade, The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Between the time of receiving the post and eating my evening meal

Dearest Neighbor and Friend,

The intoxicating glories of April left me inebriated as I wandered through the grounds of the Kalamegdan*. In the early hours, before dawn, light is in short supply. Black diffuses to grey, which fades to blue and daylight appears, as if from nowhere. Out of the decaying blackness, I found myself turning the very same corner I have walked hundreds of time towards the Rose Church*. A cloudless blue sky hanging listlessly above the ivy draped walls of the tiny chapel. Has the ivy ever been so green?

I hope my drunken amazement did not alter the course of breakfast. The jam provided by the Montenegrin woman and her strawberries could bring life to even the most Lazarus like of bread. Were I to buy week old, fungus covered bread in Tirana, had I her jam, I would eat the most foul Albanian bread. Do you share this view?

I have thought of much over the past night. The sounds of that day will not leave my mind. I was wearing brown corduroy pants. They made a sound when I walked. For many hours, I was convinced I was being followed by some invisible animal whose only tell-tale trace was like that of fabric rubbing together. It was only when I realized nothing on my apparel could accurately recreate the call of the Picus Viridius* that we must be within its world; for this place, with its road, sky, air, buildings, food, restaurant, horses, and people was not like our own. Did I not perceiving an invisible wall between ourselves and the world?

Until tomorrow, think on these things.

Your friend,


*Kalamegdan an ancient fortress in Belgrade, now a public park, overlooking the confluence of the Sava and Danube Rivers
*The Rose Church, a historic church on the grounds of the Kalamegdan
*Montenegro was known for outstanding strawberries
*Albanians bake bread, often for breakfast
*Picus Viridius the common European Woodpecker