Čvarci refers to a specialty popular in the Balkan cuisine. They are mostly common to Serbia and Croatia, but they can also be found in some other countries of Southeastern Europe. Čvarci are a kind of pork crisps, with fat extracted from the lard. They are usually homemade, and they can be bought in supermarkets or farmer markets in larger cities.
In England, Canada and America, čvarci are called “wastage”. In Serbia, it was once eaten by the poor, but čvarci were in centuries transformed in art, so now every region has its own kind of this specialty. There are Hungarian čvarci, pepper čvarci, “duvan” (tobacco) čvarci, and the ones that are made in Srem and Bačka.
Preparation of čvarci includes melting the lard. Lard is cut in blocks of about 2 cm long and slowly fried in their own fat. Milk can be added in order to obtain the caramel color. This process lasts until all fat melts away and only crispy pork rind remains. Onion and garlic may be added as a spice and salt is always used as seasoning.
The most famous variety of čvarci are “duvan” čvarci. They are produces in Šumadija region of central Serbia and especially around the town Valjevo. They are considered as more noble kind of čvarci. In case of this type of pork chips, the process of slow fat frying is much longer and it does not end until all the fat is completely extracted. Full “oranija” is poured with water and cooked for six or seven hours, until all the meat falls off the bone and becomes mushy. Oranija is big tin container where čvarci are fried in winter and where jam and chutney are made during the summer. Afterwards, all the ingredients are pressed out with clamps, čvarci get salted and become crispy.
Čvarci are considered to be winter food. Traditional time for pork processing in Serbia is late autumn, and čvarci are consumed throughout the winter. They can be eaten as a snack, combined with heated rakija (Serbian national fruit brandy) or they can be used as an ingredient in other food recipes that include various sorts of pastry.
The manifestation “Čvarak fest” has been held since 2010. in Kać, as a manifestation with a goal to tend the Serbian culture, customs and the traditional cuisine of Vojvodina. The base of this manifestation is a competition where all the competitors show their skills in melting čvarci and cutting the lard. There is also a festival of Duvan čvarci which is held every year in second week of October in Valjevo.