Serbian Spirits for The Tiger's Wife

Lauren, Dec 23, 2014 | Consuming Fiction

Gavran Gailé, the deathless man, may have preferred water, but nearly everyone else in Téa Obreht's fascinating novel, The Tiger's Wife drinks rakija, so I was delighted to find this tasty hot toddy recipe for the traditional Serbian drink, Vruca Rakija. Vruca Rakija is a wintertime staple that is often served at Christmas. Rakija, rakia, or rachiu is a common alcoholic beverage throughout the Balkans. There are a number of different fruits used to make different versions; slivovica is made with plums.

Obreht's beautifully written first novel is steeped in magical realism and set in an unnamed Balkan province similar to the one that Obreht herself lived in as a young child in the former Yugoslavia. Obreht tells the tale of Natalia, a young doctor who has grown up in a country ravaged by war, as she begins to come to terms with the death of her grandfather.

I loved the complexity of The Tiger's Wife and certainly recommend it to anyone prepared to be immersed in heavy themes. I recommend the Vruca Rakija to anyone who enjoys sugary hot toddies, or plans to spend an evening alone at a crossroads waiting for the deathless man.

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