Meliha: I was born in 1974, my name is Meliha Karagic.
Ana: Where were you born?
M: I am actually from Olovo, small city in Bosnia. But I was born in Sarajevo, big city.
Ana: But you were in Olovo before you came to the US?
M: No, in 1998 I moved to The Netherlands, stayed 3 years, and after that, came here to New Orleans.
Ana: So when you say ‘from Olovo’, do you mean your parents/family are from Olovo?
M: Yeah, all my family.
Ana: But you were born in Sarajevo? the big city?
Ana: Thank you, and you are?
Amira: I am Amira Karagic, I was born in 1996, right after the war, in Tuzla, and, of course, my parents and family is in Olovo.
Ana: Is your dad from Olovo too?
Amira: Yes he is.
Ana: Explains how interview works with questions
(M=Meliha, A=Amira, Meliha’s daughter)
Amira: Okay, when did you first learn how to make Bosnian coffee?
Meliha: Oh, I have no idea! Very early in life, maybe around 10 years old.
Amira: Do you remember where you were when you learned? With your mom, grandma?
M: When I first drank coffee, I was with my grandma, but learned to make it with my mom.
A: Did you drink coffee?
M: Yes, I used to hide from my mom and drink coffee.
A: Do you remember the first taste, what did it taste like?
M: Yes, very bitter, nasty.
A: Did you eat anything with the coffee? Anything sweet?
M: I don’t remember, but in our culture, it is common to eat something sweet with our coffee, but I was so young, I don’t really remember eating anything with my coffee.
A: Who taught you how to make coffee? Tell me something about that person. How much did you have to practice making coffee?
M: My mom, of course all I have to say about my mom is the very best. Everything that I know, my mom has taught me. It was not hard to learn to make coffee. We drink it every day, 2-3 times. The first coffee I made was not good at all, but later it was better.
A: From who did you get your very first džezva and fildžan?
M: When I was in the Netherlands, my husband’s aunt brought me my very first fildžani and džezva. I brought those things with me to the U.S. When I went for the first time back to Olovo, I purchased more things for coffee and brought them back here.
A: When did you start to use electrical appliances- electrical coffee grinder or coffee machine?
M: In Bosnia, we did not have any electrical appliances for cooking coffee, but we did have a hand-held grinder.
A: Did you eventually buy anything electrical in Bosnia?
A: So you only used a hand-held grinder?
M: Just that. For Bosnian coffee, you can’t even use any electrical appliance, it is cooked the old-fashioned way in a džezva with boiling water.
A: Did you use any other certain devices/appliances, did some work better or not?
M: I only used the hand-grinder in Bosnia, but there are only hand-grinders and electrical coffee grinders.
A: Were you able to purchase coffee during the war?
M: Oh no, we did not. My mom used to make coffee with grains- wheat [roasted barley].
A: Coffee with that?
M: Yes, first it is fried/cooked, then ground, then if you had 2-3 grains of coffee, you’d mix that in. Drink it like normal coffee.
A: Wow, I didn’t know that existed. Was there not any coffee to buy?
M: It was possible for coffee to be bought, but it was rare in my area.
A: How was coffee purchased during that time?
M: That I don’t know, my mom did that.
A: Where do you buy coffee now?
M: Now I purchase at an Arabic store.
A: Which brand of coffee did you love?
M: Zlatna Džezva
A: What did you like the most from that brand of coffee?
M: I have no clue, the taste I guess!
A: Which coffee tastes the best? With foam, milk, sugar?
M: I love it with milk and sugar cubes.
A: Would you like black coffee?
M: Yes, I have to like it when I don’t have milk!
A: Did you/ Do you drink coffee with co-workers at work?
M: Not now. In Bosnia, yes. We always drank it at work. There was a 30 minute break just for coffee.
A: Where did you drink it? Who made it and served it?
M: Where I worked, there were 12 women. Every day it was someone’s turn to bring and make coffee, we alternated. For the 30 minute break, we’d make it and drink together.
A: Who did you most like to drink coffee with?
M: Of course with my friends, with my mom.
A: Tell me something more about those people.
M: Coffee in Bosnia was for friends. It was for sitting with friends to exchange secrets, to talk about life, about problems. It was always like that for us. If you had anything important to talk about with your mom, you make coffee. With co-workers, going out for coffee or making it at home. Coffee was for conversations.
A: Where did you like to drink it?
M: Because it was wartime, I usually drank coffee at home.
A: There are more questions regarding where you liked to drink coffee and with whom.
M: When it was beautiful outside, we drank it outside and on the balcony of my house. When it is raining, inside the house- in the kitchen.
A: Did you drink in a cafe?
M: I did when I was younger, but mostly at home.
A: Did you bring your džezva with you to America?
M: The first džezva I got from my husband’s aunt, I have with me. Other things for coffee, i bought when I went back home.
A: Why did you decide to bring the džezva with you?
M: Hmm why did I? I don’t really know why. I believe that every house has to have a džezva, that’s how I was taught, džezva and fildžani, to have just in case. It is also for memories, reminds me of my home.
A: Who do you plan on giving the džezva to?
M: *laughs* I haven’t thought about that.
A: Me? Will you give it to me?
M: Yes, I will.
A: Do you drink Bosnian coffee now or use a coffee maker?
M: I drink Bosnian coffee now just rarely, when my friends come over sometimes, or when I am really craving it or missing it. Because life is faster nowadays and in America, I drink coffee from the electrical coffee maker because it is faster.
A: Tell me about a distinct memory you have related to coffee.
M: When I was little, my mom never allowed me to drink coffee. She always said how it was not good for kids. I really wanted to know what it is that everyone drinks, but no one ever allows kids to experience. My grandma lived in the house next to ours. Whenever I had something to hide, I’d always go to her house. So one time I went, and she gave me my first coffee to try. Whenever I wanted to drink secretly, hiding from my mom, I’d go to her house. I felt like an adult.
A: Do you remember the taste? The taste that you desperately wanted to experience?
M: I know it was gross, but because I wanted to be grown and like an adult, I forced coffee down.
A: That is all the questions!