1. Ask about Kosovo.
If you want to piss off a Serbian quickly and irrevocably, just casually raise the question over the region’s independence. This matter is not something to be taken lightly. When it comes to Kosovo; our nation is divided between ‘Kosovo is Serbia forever’ people, ‘Can we just forget about it and get on with our lives’ people and those who actually lost someone in the riots. You can never be sure what group your interlocutor belongs to before you hit the nerve.
2. Ask us where Serbia is on the map.
As small as our country is, there still are smaller ones in Europe. Somehow, everyone knows where Brussels is located, but they can’t even begin to find Belgrade on the map. On that note, you can piss us off by not knowing what our capital city even is. We are not asking too much here — it’s 7th grade Geography we’re talking about.
3. Ask us if we speak Russian.
Russian and Serbian are not even that similar. It is even worse if you say you thought they were because we use the same alphabet. We do use Cyrillic like Russians and Mongolians, but, no, we don’t speak Mongolian either, in case you were wondering.
4. Put mom’s cooking in question.
Serbian family evenings are simple — everyone watches TV while mom does all the cooking. According to Serbian beliefs — which are thankfully becoming outdated — a woman’s place is in the kitchen. We know how much time and love our moms put into making us a meal and we appreciate it. Everyone else should, too.
5. Ask how much our politicians earn.
Talking about politics, politicians and their salaries makes us even angrier than joking about our mom’s cooking. In Serbia, people believe that politicians’ salaries are disproportionately high compared to the lousy jobs they do.
6. Tell us the wrong kind of joke.
We like jokes and we tell a lot of them, but our humor is very specific. We include many other nations in our jokes, but the main point of all of them is that the Serbian wins in the end. Always. He has to be smarter than anyone mentioned and he has to complete the task the best. If you manage to make up a joke in which the Serbian is not victorious, that will drive us up the wall.
7. Put us behind a wheel.
You’ve not understood the meaning of a pissed-off Serb before you’ve gone for a car ride with one behind a wheel. Just being in the traffic and driving a car pisses us off more than anything — or so it seems, according to the diversity of curses you can count on hearing during the rush hour.
8. Jeopardize the true taste of a burger.
While the rest of the world eats burgers, we have our own version of this fast food item — pljeskavica. It’s a bun stuffed with a hot-from-the-grill minced meat burger and a pile of condiments. Nothing can spoil your day like the server forgetting the spicy sauce.
9. Talk about the neighbor’s cow.
A few years ago the national television aired an ad with a catchy phrase: “Let neighbor’s cow be live and well.” This referenced the determination of Serbians to do better in life than their neighbor. Serbs love to compare themselves with people in close proximity, whether that be regarding money, happiness, success or the color they choose to paint the house. Sometimes it’s better to just not mention the cow at all.