It came in a small, brown paper bag, wafting steam and hot to the touch, perfect for a cool March morning: freshly baked burek. The phyllo crunch of the coiled pastry gave way to soft, minced veal and beef, laced with onions and Vegeta, a Bosnian seasoning that combines salt, MSG, and freeze-dried mirepoix.
“You go to any Bosnian house, they will make sure you eat something,” said Admir Junuzovic, sitting across from me at a metal table outside Stella Mart, the Bosnian grocery and butcher he owns in Lawrenceville. Junuzovic—who began working at Stella Mart as a teenager when his parents opened it in 2005—had agreed to meet early, before his day filled up with county inspectors, orders, and so on. The table belonged to the neighboring cafe, a place for mostly older Bosnian men to drink espresso, smoke cigarettes, and talk politics and soccer. Only 20 minutes into our conversation, two of those guys had joined us. They greeted Junuzovic, who explained to them in Bosnian why I was there. One called over the waiter from the cafe, who asked what I was drinking; the other asked if I was hungry and insisted on ordering me the burek, made next door at a caterer’s, using meat from Stella.
In the week or so prior to our conversation, the small store had sold about 1,200 pounds of veal; 400 pounds of cevapi, a Bosnian sausage made on-site; an equal amount of beef; and slightly more than 200 pounds of lamb, which Junuzovic smokes himself on a rotisserie. In late April, after Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting and prayer, Junuzovic said he expected to triple the amount of lamb.
Inside the store, everything was in its place, not a crumb in sight. This, like the use of Vegeta, is also cultural, said Adi Komic, who was born in Bosnia but raised in Duluth—and is now the culinary director of Monday Night Brewing Garage, as well as the driving force behind the Bosnian food pop-up Krupana: “Growing up, I remember there was an obsession with the cleanliness of meat.” There’s also an obsession with freshness and knowing the source. Junuzovic noted the difference between the lamb in his home country—“it’s jumping up and down in the field one minute, and it’s on your table the next”—and the lambs he now sells, which come frozen from New Zealand, or, lately, Uruguay.
The families of Komic, now 33, and Junuzovic, 38, both came to Georgia fleeing the fallout from the bloody war of the early 1990s that fractured the former Yugoslavia. They are among the estimated 10,000 Bosnians now living in Gwinnett County and other parts of the Atlanta metro area. If there were an embassy for the community, you could make an argument for locating it in the dated, unassuming shopping center where Stella is located, given that Euro Gourmet, a Bosnian-owned restaurant and market, is right across the street, as is Fejzic Euro Bakery, also Bosnian. Komic shares his country’s food with other cultures via his pop-up, and while the majority of Junuzovic’s customers are Bosnian, about a third are from Caribbean, African, and Middle Eastern countries, he says, drawn by veal, lamb, and halal products.
Komic’s mother had picked up some of the rotisserie-cooked lamb, sold on Saturdays, several days before we spoke. What makes it different? he was asked. “The level of care and love,” he said.
Five locally made sausages to try
(Clockwise from top left)
$9, Pine Street Market, Avondale Estates
$36.99/whole piece (2.25 pounds), Patak Meat Products, Austell
Italian Cervellata (cheese and parsley–flavored)
$17.89, E. 48th Street Market, Dunwoody
Stone Mountain Cattle Co. Chorizo Bilbao
$10.99, Candler Park Market, Candler Park
Sausage World Chorizo Parrillero (Uruguayan-style)
$9.19, Nam Dae Mun Farmers Market, multiple locations
This article appears in our June 2023 issue.