Texan summers mean the occasional day-trip to the coast, or if you’re lucky, a whole week’s worth of frolicking in the sands of Port Aransas, Rockport or South Padre Island.
And for Boyan and brother Mirko, life wasn’t all that different growing up in bustling Belgrade.
Each summer, as the school year came to a close, the boys would often be pulled out of school early because of their excellent grades. They’d board an overnight train heading west to the coastal town of Šibenik. From there, they’d head to the small village of Gulin to a two-story home hand-built by their grandfather.
Texan childhoods might bring to mind ice chests on the beach and casual barbecues in the backyard, and again, this wasn’t that far removed.
Boyan and Mirko, along with their cousins, would wake up to farm-fresh eggs followed by a day of adventuring. Whether it was digging holes to “make a swimming pool,” tending to the chickens out back, or helping great-grandma swat flies away from the fresh catch of the day using branches off the Kostela tree (otherwise known as a Mediterranean hackberry). Trips to the river would often include fishing for the next’s day’s lunch. When fishing didn’t pan out, a fishmonger would drive up to the house in his Renault 4 selling iced down srdela fish (similar to sardines) for that day’s lunch or dinner.
The months would go on to include trips into Šibenik proper to take in the rocky beaches, or drives down to Krka National Park where the family would set up day camps and swim in the Krka River.
Though a black and white television did reside within the walls of the house, there was too much exploring to do and the occasional chores, as well, like fetching wine from the cellar to fill the table’s wine balloon, tending to the tomato garden for the day’s salad, or picking figs off the backyard’s fig tree.
It would all lead to summertime feasts of fresh tomato and cheese salads, homemade Dalmatian pršut (prosciutto), lepinja baked daily, and savory soups, followed by the main course: the catch of the day.