A butcher, a gut-cleaner

Ivan Puh (1900-1960) moved to Belgrade from Slovenske Konjice when he was only 19, and he started working as a butcher and a gut-cleaner at the court of Petar I Karađorđević. He learned his trade of a butcher and a gut-cleaner in Austria. He met Mileva at the court. The two of them got married and had children – a daughter Jelena and a son Milan. He moved across Serbia to buy cattle, and that is how he came to Milanovac and met a famous local butcher of the time – Dragan Tolovac. Since he had to leave the court when his children reached the school age (so that court children wouldn’t mingle with other children), Ivan moved to Milanovac, which he liked as it was a small and peaceful town. He started his trade business there with the great help of Dragan Tolovac. His sons Momčilo and Srboljub, as well as his daughter Nada, were all born there before the war. Since they were raised in this kind of family, his sons learned the trade as well and did that kind of job. Srboljub also learned the shoemaking trade, because they thought that there should be someone in the family – besides Ivan and Milan who were butchers – who would possess some other skills as well. That was why Srboljub had a shoe shop for a while in Milanovac. However, till the very end they were a family of butchers. Ivan Puh had two shops in the main street before the war. One of them was a shambles, where meat was prepared, and opposite it there was a kebab restaurant, where both specialties and meat products were made. For the numerous specialties they prepared, Ivan and Srboljub used the recipes of Baldomir Sabati – a veterinarian who was also from Slovenia, and who lived and worked in Milanovac (e.g. the famous lamb’s fry dish was prepared following his recipe). After the war and burning down of Gornji Milanovac, when almost their whole property was destroyed, they managed to recover fast owing to their now family business. They built a new house and a shop and continued doing their trade. A gut-cleaner trade was highly appreciated back at that time and well-paid, so they could lead a good life. There was a rumour that Ivan would go to Belgrade with a suitcase full of sausages and then return with the same suitcase full of money. Srboljub’s son who was named Ivan after his grandfather, also learned this trade. When he accidentally got killed while hunting in 2009, family Puh’s business was closed even though Srboljub was still alive and capable of running this business. The first private butcher’s shop in town was Puh’s one. After the war, they opened their shop in a house in Rajićeva Street. They prepared meat of all animals – bulls, bullocks, lambs, piglets… The shambles was in the garden. People brought cattle mostly, which was immediately slaughtered and processed, though there was a facility in the garden where the cattle was temporarily placed after being brought. There was also a smoking kiln for sausages and meat in the garden, as well as a separate room for the preparation of sausages. Since generations of this family were trained to do this job, this was a family trade in its proper sense. When he started his business following his moving to Gornji Milanovac, Ivan Puh would go around the surrounding villages and buy cattle. All butchers from Gornji Milanovac had a good mutual cooperation and they were not competing with each others as there was enough job for everyone. What testifies best about their connection and good cooperation is the fact that all of them considered each others to be as close as brothers. Famous post-war butchers in Gornji Milanovac were: Milorad Damljanović Kine, Petar Knežević Mačak, Marković butcher, butcher Slaviša from Rudnik… Nowadays, there are butcher’s shops in the town, which mostly belong to the bigger meat industry.

Master craftsmen were also skilled in knife sharpening with the help of a sharpening steel. There was a special way of doing that as well. They knew the exact angle for holding a knife so as to sharpen it properly.


Everything they made was put into natural casings. Small intestines were used for sausages. In order to prepare an intestine for filling, one first has to make it smelly – and that process is called salting. After that, putty knives are used to get rid of fat until there is only a thin casing left, which is then put in a lot of salt following which it is ready for filling. Smoked sausages were used for making blood sausages, asparagus, and kavurma. Housewives used scalded casings to cover their jars – something like stretch foil nowadays. All animal parts were used. Slavoljub used to say that only animal hoofs can’t be processed, though there was a time when they were used for making buttons. Hair was used for making brushes, and haymakers used horns to keep their scythestone, or even they were used for button making process. Bones were used for making jelly. Kebabs and sausages were made from meat only, either veal or pork, or sometimes even fifty-fifty. Asparagus was made from animal skin, ears or head. Kavurma was made in the same way, though it was darker in colour than asparagus, because greaves were added to it. Blood sausages were made from blood, but cooked blood collected during the slaughter process was eaten as well. Garlic and salt would be added, then the whole mixture would be baked, and it looked something similar to a spongecake. Buđola is a smoked ham kept in salt for a long time. It is very spicy and smoked in a net. They prepared sausages, liver pâté, and Carniolan sausage. Veal sweetbread, beef tongue salad, and calf’s head were family Puh’s specialties. Veal sweetbread was prepared with calf’s intestines (which is still breastfed), which is why these intestines are clean. After rolling the intestines, a special knife with a crooked tip was used to cut them open. They would then be boiled and put in an intestine casing; red ground pepper, pepper, salt, and a fresh pepper would be added to this. A toothpick was used to close this up before baking.

As the time went by and the industry had novelties related to introducing additives and chemicals in order to decrease prices and earn more money, master craftsmen accepted them, but that was also the way of losing the original quality.