If you are a foreigner in Serbia, you will not need much time to learn about the kindness, openness and warmth of the Serbian people.
You can stop any passer-by and ask him for any kind of help. Before introducing yourself or meeting other people, it is inevitable in Serbia to shake hands, regardless of the sex. It is not obligatory to kiss each other during the first meeting, but when you meet that person for the second time and afterwards, you need to kiss each other¢s cheeks three times (which is a characeristic of the Serbs) – because there is a traditional Serbian proverb which says that »God helps us three times«, and also there is a generally well-known symbolism of number three – the Holy Trinity.
Of course, no one would object if you kiss him twice, or one time, as long as you hug him warmly and friendly. During the meals at the table, the Serbs are real hedonists. They enjoy eating. Since Serbia is at the junction of many roads, it has always been a »sweet bite« for many invaders, so it is not wonder why its gastronomy is so diverse. There have been many different and rich influences on Serbian cuisine – first it was influenced by the Mediterranean, being a mixture of its smells and tastes, mostly by the Greek, Bulgarian, Turkish and Hungarian cuisine.
There is a custom in Serbia to have three meals a day, and lunch is almost always the most exuberant meal. Hosts serve, as the rule says, many different kinds of food and put them in front of the guests, but, opposite to many European countries, every Serb will serve a salad together with the main dish, and, as an appetizer, he will serve cream, cheese, dried meat, corn bread, after that soup or broth, then the main dish, and finally, a dessert. As an aperitif, domestic brandy is served most often, which you drink slowly, and before starting drinking it, you can propose (say) a toast – first you begin with touching each other¢s glasses with your own glass, which is obligatory, as well as looking straight into each other¢s eyes and saying a word »Cheers!« aloud.
Toasts are generally proposed during some important events. They are mostly proposed by a host, but guests can also do it. Opposed to the toasts which had been proposed in earlier times, today they are mostly short. The hostess will always serve coffee in every house. The Serbs did not get used to drinking tea, and they mostly do it only when they are sick. You should not be surprised if someone offers to pay you a drink, lunch or something else, and, moreover, he would insist to do so – it is just another way of expressing that you are welcome. However, the Serbs like to treat, that is to pay for the drinks of their friends, not only of foreigners. Sharing the amount which you must pay the waiter, that is, the principle: “Everyone pays his own drink« is something which is still strange and new in Serbia