Bourek is known, believe it or not, in one form or another with a similar name from Anatolia to the Balkans, in North Africa, the Middle East, even Israel.
The Balkans are imagining a kind of monopoly over the name and never miss the opportunity to educate the “ignorant” that bourek with meat filling alone is tHe OnLy rEaL bUrEk. All other savory pastries with filo dough (yufka) are pies, according to them.
Excuse me, dear ones. Shall we ask the Turks, from whom this Balkan delicacy really originates? All across the Anatolian Peninsula, “börek” is a salty pastry with any filling served with afternoon tea. What would Balkan bourek purists say about it there?
I will not bore you with even longer linguistic essays on how far into history bourek and its naming go, I will only hint that the name may be borrowed from Persian language, according to linguists, and historical sources testify to the origin of this type of pastry dating in the time and place of the Eastern Roman Empire before the 7th century.
Therefore, my dear ones – when I am in Sarajevo again, I will definitely order a spinache pie (zelyánitsa). But when I finally reach Turkey one day (not just the airport), I will without skipping a beat have myself some spinach and cheese börek. Also, when in my own kitchen in Jeddah, I am baking a burek, no matter the filling. And once I am back to Ljubljana again, I shall go to the famous burek place Olimpija to order myself the sinfully delicious blasphemous Ljubljana creation – pizza burek. And there’s nothing you can say or do about it.