Starting life several centuries ago as a way of preserving the multitude of red peppers grown in the region and as such traditionally a winter food, this ubiquitous and highly recommended Balkan appetiser and spread is served on tables from Sofia to Tirana. In North Macedonia as everywhere else, it’s now possible to buy it from large manufacturers, although the home-made stuff is by far the best, and being invited to somebody’s home to help make is a sure sign that you’ve been accepted as one of the locals. Ajvar comes in two main varieties, namely with and without chilli peppers. Be sure to check before you start spooning it in your mouth. Ajvar isn’t exactly a gourmet dish, but as an addition to a well stocked table of traditional food it truly comes into its own. If you don’t see it on the menu, just ask and a jar is usually produced. The recommended Javor Agapi restaurant in Mrzenci make their own.