Today and every day, an unlikely celebrity is cooking up traditional Serbian food on YouTube. In this Balkan country hoping to join the European Union by 2025, “Granny Jela” is an internet sensation.
Granny Jela, whose real name is Jelena Petrovic, is a 69-year-old chef. She has put her life-long experience to good use by launching an online cooking tutorial. Fans check in daily for a new recipe of homemade food. Her husband, Milan, runs the camera and does the grocery shopping. The couple’s YouTube channel (with over 150,000 subscribers) and blog are Bakina Kuhinja, “Granny’s Kitchen.”
About a decade ago, Petrovic began sharing recipes of soups, meat, sweets, and pastry online. “I didn’t even know how to use a computer mouse at first,” Petrovic says. “But I Googled a lot and read hundreds of tutorials.”
Nowadays, Petrovic’s channel is a full-time concern. After morning tea, the couple gets down to work: grocery shopping, filming, editing, and posting. “It is exhausting, from early morning to late evening,” Petrovic explains. Her hard work and success are a good reminder that “the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” (Proverbs 13:4)
Petrovic admits mistakes happen “like in any movie.” While making Tuesday’s sour cherry cake, Granny Jela kept sifting sugar while the white stuff spilled out onto the table. Whoops.
Petrovic prepares dishes in her own kitchen. She uses local food found in Serbian shops and markets. She cooks in the way generations have done before her.
Viewers often write to Petrovic. They say the recipes bring back warm memories of childhood. “I make things my mother or grandmother used to make,” she says.
Petrovic gives some of the food to her neighbors and friends. But the sweets go elsewhere: “My grandchildren,” Petrovic says with a smile.
(Granny Jela places food into the oven in her home in Jagodina, Serbia. AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)