Dobro došli! Welcome to our Bosnian home.
Visiting a Bosnian Home
Take your shoes off and stay awhile. When visiting a Bosnian American home in Bowling Green, you will likely be expected to remove your shoes before entering and place them on a shoe rack. Some homes may have Bosnian knit socks to wear inside.
Whether you will be eating or not, you will likely have some coffee while you sit and chat. The couch you see here is a modern interpretation of a traditional Yugoslavian bosanska soba. Bosnian homes in Bowling Green have the same kinds of couches you would find in any South Central Kentucky home, but this couch provides a taste of more traditional Bosnian decor.
What’s for Dinner?
Join us for dinner. The table set here is also a modern interpretation of a traditional Bosnian table setting. In Yugoslavia, dinner tables sat low to the ground, and families would sit on the floor while eating. Many had only a textile barrier between their dinner and floor instead of a table. However, the table in this living room also functions like a contemporary coffee table. In a blending of traditions, many Bosnian American families continue to gather for dinner around the coffee table. Set for dinner here is burek with kefir for dipping, kafa with sugar and Turkish delight, and Mikado rice chocolate (a popular Bosnian candy).
What’s on TV?
Watch a little TV with us. Many families stream Bosnian television channels through subscription services. Popular television programs include European football (soccer), Turkish soap operas, and Bosnian news shows. Balkan television programs feature many of the same genres found in American TV, such as reality shows and singing competitions.
Decorating the Living Room
Notice the items you see decorating the living room, such as the various textiles: the crocheted table runners, the woven ćilim on the floor and couch, and the needlepoint by Fata Hotilovac, which hangs on the wall. The heavy lace curtains you see are also typical of a Bosnian American home. In fact, some joke that you can identify a Bosnian home from the outside by looking at the curtains hanging in the windows.
Listen to Senida and Amer talk about how to spot a Bosnian home from the outside:
What’s in the Backyard?
Peering out of the window, you will notice a garden in the backyard. Many Bosnian families in Bowling Green came from agrarian communities in Bosnia in which they grew much of their own food. In Bowling Green, some Bosnian families garden, growing vegetables, flowers, and fruits. People choose to plant gardens for a variety of reasons: for access to fresh ingredients for certain dishes, for the pleasure and therapeutic value, to connect to a community tradition of working the land, and other reasons, as well.
“[My mom gardens] because she enjoys it…It’s not like she’s going to make any money and it’s not like we’re really going to save any money…I think part of it is being able to do something that she’s done for such a long time and [it] just…kind of takes her to a happy place in her mind. But also…there’s something about seeing something from nothing.” – Senida Husic, 2017
“90% of those things that we have in the garden are an ingredient to one of our favorite foods…We use [squash] to make a very, very, very popular pita” – Amer, 2017
Listen to Senida Husic and Amer talk about gardening:
Click here for the transcription of this audio clip.
“We used apples for – you can make apple cider. We make apple syrup…we built a machine…you have a giant bucket that you built out of wood and you’ll put your apples in there. And then from there you’ll have…a pipe that feeds it to another big bucket. And so you create this, almost like a pulley thing…somebody stands on one side and then on the opposite side it’s hitting the bucket and crushing these apples…and then you get this liquid – the juice – and then you have to boil that, and you boil it to…a syrup consistency….and you can cook with it…but also, you just use a little bit [of the syrup] and a little bit of sour cream and you mix it and you dip your bread into it and it’s so delicious. I just think about it, and it’s so delicious.” – Senida Husic, 2017
Listen to Senida Husic and Amer share memories of growing up with fruit trees:
This photo of Sadeta Hodžić in her living room in Bosnia shows some of the aesthetic preferences for home decor in Bosnian culture. This is one of Sadeta’s only photos that survived the war.
Traditional Yugoslavian living room
In the summer of 2017, Western Kentucky University folklorists Brent Björkman and Kate Horigan traveled to Bosnia and visited Blagaj Tekke, a Sufi monastery located along the Buna River. The photos from this monastery give a sense of what a traditional living room in Yugoslavia may have looked like. Notice the built-in wooden couch, the lace curtains, and the needlework and ćilim that decorate the room.