My good friend and world-class Serbian accordionist, Velimir Živković, took me for a coffee at a trending new coffeehouse in Belgrade called Tri Lafa, which adjoins a bakery in the back. As soon as we parked next to the bakery, my eye caught a mirage of war heroes high above a two-storey building in an area known as Dušanovačka Pijaca. This was the Trpkovic Bakery, which is also called the Pekara Trpković in the Serbian language. I was in disbelief. There they were in all their glamour – Serbia’s greatest war heroes: Karadjordje, King Peter I, Vojvoda Vojislav Mišić, Vojvoda Stepa Stepanović, Dragutin Matić (Oko Sokolovo), Vojvoda Petar Bojović, and Vojvoda Radomir Putnik. This would have been taboo during Josip Broz Tito’s Yugoslavia, but today it is a reminder of a history long forgotten.
Pekara Trpković, considered the best bakery in Belgrade with authentic baked goods, is the largest Serbian bakery in Belgrade with three locations and over 60 employees. The Trpković name is synonymous with baking which has persisted for three generations of Trpkovićs. Today, the bakery is owned and operated by Zoran Trpković, simply called Zoki by good friends. It turns out that Zoki is a Serbian nationalist who has an in-depth knowledge of Serbian history and believes that all Serbs should work together to make Serbia great again. Zoki makes a point of taking care of family, where many Trpković family members are employed – both with and without university degrees. His philosophy is that young people from Serbia should stay in Serbia. This means studying and working in Serbia, rather than leaving the country and chasing the American dream or any dream outside Serbia.
Zoran Trpković’s ancestors come from South Serbia or today’s Macedonia when his grandfather moved his family to Belgrade before the First Balkan War at a time Serbia was occupied by the Ottoman Turks. The story goes that a Turk was walking by a meadow when he saw a woman, Zoki’s grandmother, that caught his fancy. The Turk ordered that the woman be brought to him the next day. If not, her husband would have to pay in dukats (gold) to release her. Zoki’s grandfather confronted the Turk and killed him. He escaped to Belgrade with his wife to avoid a sure death.
Zoki never forgot where he comes from and why. After the Turks were defeated in the First Balkan War, Macedonia soon became home to a large Albanian Muslim population. Zoki installed a flashing neon Serbian cross atop a Serbian church as a symbol of Serbian statehood, which was an eyesore to the Muslims in the area. Zoki has no grievance against anyone, but only for those who have an agenda to divide and conquer Serbian lands and create another Kosovo.
The bakery has Serbian paraphernalia inside, including a big blue chair with a Serbian emblem. The walls are adorned with Serbian flags, calendars, historic photos, wood carvings, pistols, swords, crosses, musical instruments, banners with epic quotes, an old military uniform, and the list goes on. There is also a row of bakery permits on a wall, including one in German proclaiming the Pekara Trpković as a legal entity under German occupation during WWII.
Zoki Trpković is a true and rare Serbian patriot in the middle of Belgrade, and the Pekara Trpković is about as Serbian as it gets. This is probably the only place in Belgrade where you can take in some Serbian history and enjoy the perfect latte and freshly baked burek.