Croatia’s cuisine is as different as its many regions. There is not one particular or distinct meal; instead, there are many entrees that equally encapsulate its harmonious diversity. Many dishes were first prepared during ancient times, which makes the variety sensical.
It speaks to how lovely the country has aged with its many unique traditions and customs. As in old times, inhabitants from a particular region would cook and create with what would be found in their backyard. If the sea was in their backyard, fresh catches were reasonable. If the black-pine forests were nearby, deer meat and foraged vegetation provided sustenance. When in each Croatian region, try what is native to the particular space; you will not be disappointed.
As always, look for the local shops to help support the dwelling community. Many times, where there are locals, there are good eats!
In all parts of Croatia, charcuterie is a logical start. In every region, a plate of artisan ham and yummy cheese can kick start a great meal. Most times selected seasonally, the board will be served with bread or crackers and possibly olives alongside. The ham is treated delicately, with consciousness, as it is aged for at least 12 months, sometimes as much as 20 months. Goodness often takes patience!
Locally grown, Plavac Mali is a well-known Croatian wine. One amongst quite a few that would pair well with charcuterie. Most locals will tell you that there is a Croatian wine for nearly anything you might want to eat while drinking! If you are a traveler who enjoys a glass or two with your meal, you are visiting the right place.
If you are traveling through inland Croatia, it is usual to see oxen on a gourmet menu. Served rustically, carpaccio* or at times in savory sauce with a pasta, it is a fan favorite for natives. This is considered a special meal, so maybe you indulge on a night of celebration when going out on your last night in town.
*carpaccio- raw meat or fish, pounded out to paper thinness. It is usually served with drizzles of olive oil and lemon or vinegar, served with capers and greens. It was first created in Italy during the 1950s after a major electrical outage.
A fisherman’s stew, prepared primarily on the coast of the sea, this is a fresh, light, delectable dish, fashioned from classic Italian cuisine. Using a tomato base in the dish, anything from the water can be added. Traditionally, prawns or shrimp, clams, crab, and squid will find their way into the steamy, delicious mixture.
Copious amounts of acid, either lemon or vinegar, would historically be added to each pot, in order to preserve the richness in coming days and weeks. Back then, you could not waste a morsel, and still today, many families would follow a similar rule. Boiled in its own juices to create a tender outcome, this is a buttery heaven of seafood delight.