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Our Daily Bread - Food in Croatia

In our previous blog we tried to give you 5 top reasons to visit Croatia, and for some reason we forgot to mention the most important element of the Croatian culture, everyday life and tradition – FOOD. Therefore, to make things straight, let us dedicate this blog to food entirely.

Local Istrian cheese sprinkled with truffles, Photo: alchen_x @Flickr

Local Istrian cheese sprinkled with truffles, Photo: alchen_x @Flickr

Croatians think about food a lot, and dedicate a lot of their time to preparation and eating. Food in Croatia is a social event. You can make best business deals only if food is somehow included, whenever you have guests over, you are unspokenly obliged to offer them something to eat (but I mean, something concrete, not just cakes, or sandwiches), hopefully something homemade (sausages, ham, cheese, olives, prosciutto) and based on meat. Luckily that works both ways (that’s why Croatians visit each other quite regularly). Most of the daily conversation is about recipes, various dishes, who made and/or ate what today, etc. Homemade food is much valued, so fast food restaurants strive only in urban areas (mind you, Subway did not stay long in Zagreb, the capital, McDonald’s is not the leading fast foods chain, etc.). 

Fish Soup, Photo: Premshree Pillai @Flickr

Fish Soup, Photo: Premshree Pillai @Flickr

Lunch is the most important meal of the day (breakfast serves only to fill the stomach and keep you going until the lunchtime) and it is usually served between 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Many mothers tend to prepare the full meal (including, soup, main course, salad) either the day before, or early in the morning. Due to the modern lifestyle, lunch is usually shared with the family at weekends since nowadays people do not have much time to eat together on weekdays. However, it still remains the main meal. Dinner is often lighter than lunch or it should be (unlike in some other countries), and it usually consists of the lunch leftovers. 

Ćevapi, Photo: Fabian Rost @Flickr

Ćevapi, Photo: Fabian Rost @Flickr

However, it is not that easy to define what the Croatian cuisine is. Depending on which part of the country you visit, you’ll have an opportunity to try various, delicious dishes which also reflect the history of the country.

Sarma, Photo: Neven Mrgan @Flickr

Sarma, Photo: Neven Mrgan @Flickr

If you go to the continental part of Croatia, you’ll taste the influences of Hungarian, German and Turkish cuisines, adapted to the Croatian palate. Our recommendations are definitely dishes such as ćevapi (grilled ground-meat fingers), šiš-ćevapi (similar to ćevapi, spicier, on stick), burek (similar to pies, with chees, meat or spinach), kajmak (similar to clotted cream), zagorski štrukli (dough with various types of filling that can be either cooked or baked), purica s mlincima (roast turkey with pasta tatters), sekeli s kobasicama i restanim krumpirom (pork and sauerkraut stew with sausages and stewed potatoes), buncek (pig hock) that goes perfect together with beans which can also be prepared in various ways (with cabbage, pasta, vegetables, barely, etc.), sarma (perfect in wintertime, a dish of grape, cabbage or chard leaves rolled around a filling usually based on minced meat), teleća koljenica ispod peke (roast veal knuckle under the bell), juhe (various soups) and variva (stewed vegetables)… just to name a few.

Grilled fish, Photo: sallypopally @Flickr

Grilled fish, Photo: sallypopally @Flickr

Feeling hungry already? Unfortunately, this is just a beginning. You should then go to the seaside, where the Mediterranean cuisine predominates, influenced by the Italian cuisine, again adapted to Croatian taste.  Here you can choose from various dishes based on sea food (of course), seasonal vegetables, seasoned with domestic olive oil, garlic, and watered with fine red or white wine. Just to tease you a bit, let me name some of the famous specialties: škampi na buzaru (scampi in garlic, tomato, and white wine sugo), dagnje na buzaru (mussels also in garlic, tomato, and white wine sugo), riba na gradele (grilled fish), marinade (marinades), brudeti (fish stews), janjetina ispod peke (lamb under the bell), hobotnica ispod peke (octopus under the bell), squid in many variants, various risottos, pastas, etc.

Škampi na buzaru, Photo: cyclonebill @Flickr

Škampi na buzaru, Photo: cyclonebill @Flickr

I could go on about the food, but it’s lunchtime and my homemade sarma is steaming on the table, together with mashed potatoes. Perfect in these cold, winter days…