Note: In exchange for a review of Mama’s, I received jars of their malizzano and ajvar spreads.
On a recent visit to Sarajevo, I gleefully wandered through the aisles of a local supermarket, nostalgic for various Balkan snacks and condiments. Really, condiments? For sure…that region has some under-the-radar specialties, which have led me to take lengthy subway trips to various parts of Queens and Brooklyn specifically for something with tomatoes, eggplant and/or hot peppers.
Although I tend to prefer sampling local products, I couldn’t help being tempted by a jar of Mama’s malizzano, or eggplant spread. (OK, so the container also had English on it.)
Even better, the ingredients were simple (this jar was one that they sent me; however, the one in Sarajevo also had English): It may not look like much, but advertising eggplant and hot peppers (fefferoni), in addition to not having added sugar made this too difficult to pass up. As it turned out, this was easily one of the best, and somehow one of the freshest tasting spreads I have ever tried. I can think of some good potential competition – Chinese street-side grilled eggplant with garlic and leeks comes to mind first – but I’m glad to know that it can be found in the US.
The concept was started by three Macedonian businessman who, upon trying some local appetizers at a restaurant, were inspired to start producing their own line of Balkan condiments as an homage to their mothers.
In addition to the malizzano and ajvar (ay-var) – or red pepper – spreads, they have other items that include sweetened kiwis, watermelon, and figs, baked beans, and gherkins. As a self-described breadite – shucks, I thought I just made that word up – I’ll be sticking with their delectable savory spreads. Ви благодарам (vi blagodaram/thanks) Macedonia for giving me another reason to visit!