The very center of Europe, the intersection of different cultures – all this is Croatia. It is distinguished by its advantageous geographical position, which largely determined the way of life and culinary preferences of the local population. Croatia is just made for gastronomic travel: the portions here are generous, and the dishes are delicious and varied.
Legendary Croatian snacks and drinks
Croatia is a country where winemaking is developed. Wine is usually served with every meal. Locals rarely drink it in its pure form – more often they dilute it with either water or soda.
A wide variety of appetizers are served with wines: cheese, meat, sausages, sardines, and olives. Here are those that have become a real gastronomic symbol of the country.
A national treasure in the field of culinary. This is dry-cured ham, similar to Spanish jamon, but cooked in a special way. The process begins during the fattening period. Pigs of special breeds are fed only plant foods – corn, turnips, potatoes. Prust is harvested without a skin: first it is salted, and then it is dried in the cold continental wind. A real delicacy is obtained only after a year of meat aging: the red color with streaks remains, the meat acquires a rich and slightly salty taste. Prosciutto is served to the table cut into thin slices and with melon.
It is made on the island of Pag, where several tens of thousands of sheep of a special breed graze. Their milk is used to make hard cheese with the addition of sage and rosemary. Another feature is olive oil, which is used to rub cheeses during aging. As a result, the cheese has a perfect taste and goes well with wines and liqueurs, usually served with honey.
Spicy minced pork sausages that originated in Croatia under the influence of Austria. They have a lot of paprika, the taste is sweetish. This sausage goes well with beer, wines, and tinctures. In some regions, the love for them is so great that special holidays are arranged – the Kuleniada sausage festivals.
All these snacks can be brought with you as guests, the products do not require special storage conditions.
If you want to surprise your friends, bring them a bottle of liqueur made from a special kind of cherry, which is processed along with the seeds. As a result, the drink has an almond flavor. But the subtle bitterness of liquor is a necessary component of popular cocktails and pastries.
First course: soups and stews
Traditional Croatian soups are light and clear. The broth is made from chicken or beef, and seasoned with rice or pasta. But there are also thicker hearty stews that reflect the national identity of Croatia:
Brodet: A thick stew-like soup, more like a sauce. It is prepared from white sea fish and seafood – mussels, squids with the addition of wine and spices; instead of bread, corn porridge is served with brodet;
Manestra: A soup reminiscent of the Italian Minestrone. Looks like vegetable stew. It is boiled on pork or beef ribs with the addition of peas, beans, peppers, and tomatoes. Barley, corn and vermicelli are also added to this soup. It turns out a tasty and satisfying dish that replaces a whole meal;
Čorba: A common Balkan stew based on strong beef broth with wine, herbs, spices and vegetables found only in Croatia.
In winter and autumn, the regular menu of establishments has a light tomato puree soup, which is seasoned with rice or thin noodles. In summer, Croatians traditionally eat cold soups based on cream, grated cucumber and garlic, with lots of spices.
Heaven for the meat eater
Croatia at different times was influenced by neighboring states, so the cuisine echoes Turkish, Hungarian, Austrian and Italian, but retains its national flavor. In the central region – Zagreb and Slavonia – a real expanse for meat-eaters: lamb and lamb, pork ham according to special Croatian recipes, beef in various forms, as well as poultry dishes:
Viskovačka behavice: Lamb lovers will love this meal. This is a dish of young lamb with sour milk. The meat is tender and soft;
Dalmatian pasticada: the pride of the national cuisine of Croatia. The tradition prescribes to prepare this dish from beef. The meat is stewed in a special wine sauce; handmade dumplings are usually served with the meat;
Przholica: lean beef tenderloin is first fried and then stewed in a special sauce made from beef broth, with vegetables and garlic with the addition of bacon;
Chobanac: the dish combines several types of meat – beef, pork, lamb, sometimes game is added.
The meat languishes with vegetables for about 4 hours and resembles a thick, rich stew;
Sarma: cabbage rolls made from sauerkraut have a delicate taste, because prosciutto is added to the minced meat – dry-cured pork and cheese, spices. Pieces of bacon are placed on top of the wrapped cabbage rolls, which give the sarma juiciness.
Meat dishes, when served, are generously poured with tomato or cream sauce. Boiled potatoes, handmade gnocchi dumplings, ajvar caviar, green beans and fresh vegetables are usually served as a side dish.
Croatian fish dishes
Thanks to access to the Adriatic Sea, fishing is developed in Croatia. The best fish dishes can be tasted in the restaurants of Dubrovnik, Istria and Dalmatia.
In the menu of local restaurants you can find sea bass and sea bream, a little less often – cod and red perch. But marinated and baked sardines are worth looking for, they are not so common.
In cafes, dishes are prepared by cutting fish into fillets and soaking in a mixture of grape and balsamic vinegar, and then grilled. Roasted chestnuts and cheese and cream sauces are served with fish.
For lovers of sea delicacies, this is a real expanse – seafood is served in a variety of forms. You can go to an oyster farm and taste oysters with champagne, and dine on the shore with stuffed squids or octopuses, which are called proboscis in Croatian.