Hrvatska Kuh

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Croatian Gastronomy

introductionfor thousands of years bc the tribal communities centred round Vuedol used an extremely precise calendar which enabled them to engage effectively and successfully in agriculture. On the island of Vis there are traces of grape vine which have been cultivated from pre-Christian times, right up to the present day. The oldest coin to be found on the island of Hvar bears on the reverse side a depiction of a bunch of grapes, and on the obverse side the image of Homer the poet who extolled their virtues in verse. Officers of ancient Rome gladly became gourmands once they discovered the riches of the Cetina region bequeathed to them by the gods: trout, river crabs, frogs, game and fertile land. Instead of the usual temporary camp they created a permanent settlement on the hills along the Cetina River. A thousand years ago, top quality chefs, who were equally expert in Oriental and Western cuisines, were a key element of the crews aboard the ships of Dubrovnik which sailed the Mediterranean and the oceans. From Istria to Konavle, Croats have been safeguarding dozens of centuries-old olive trees which still bear fruit to this day. Roman emperors planted olive groves in Istria because they considered the area as being the best for cultivation of superior olives. Also, recipes from the Viennese court were being preparedEach croatian tourist rEGion is a sourcE of hiGh quality cuisinE, rEGardlEss of whEthEr thE offErEd dish is of polEnta madE from whitE maizE or a phEasant patE flavourEd with frEsh istrian trufflEs.

croatian Gastronomy


introductionby cooks attending to the gastronomic needs of the nobility and other wealthy households in northern Croatia. Napoleons cooks introduced many of their culinary secrets to their Croatian counterparts, and they are still with us today the mustard and bermet, i.e. vermouth, of Samobor being two of the most famous examples. It has to be pointed out, however, that those French cooks did not find any absence of culinary skills, indeed quite the contrary; in most cases the local population simply added a French touch to some of their existing recipes. For instance, mustard is mentioned in Gazophylacium, the famous Latin-Croatian dictionary by Ivan Belostenec, completed in 1674. Italians have managed to convince a good part of the world that hundreds of their regional dishes deserve a place at the peak of world gastronomy. However, at the beginning of the last century they themselves claimed that the best Italian dishes are prepared in Dalmatia, where a great culinary tradition makes use of first-class ingredients. In the course of its travels from Persia, via Turkey to Croatian lands, a journey which took thousands of kilometres and hundreds of years to complete, the recipe for evap or kebab Cultivation of certain was being constantly improved until it varieties of grape reached absolute perfection. And all that together with many other great dishes on the island of and culinary procedures. Hungarians who came to settle in Vis dates back to Podravina, Meimurje, Slavonia and pre-Christian times. Baranja are masters of dishes prepared in small cauldrons, delicacies which represent the essence of the identity of Hungarian cuisine. Todays Croatia, a small Alpine, Pannonian, Danube-basin and Mediterranean country, grows all the same types of grape that are grown in the much larger France! Also, in small Croatia more varieties of the most highly valued truffles can be found than in that same France, including the white Tuber magnatum (pico), which is most sought after. For years now micologists have been trying to compile a definitive list of edible fungi that are autochthonous in Croatia, but the task is so extensive that they have yet to complete it. The Croatian Adriatic is not renowned for its great quantities of fish, crabs, shellfish and molluscs, but it is renowned for its rich variety of seafood. Indeed, it is claimed by many that some of that seafood, such as scampi and oysters from particular localities, are the best in the world. Those are subjective assessments; objective scientific findings have quite definitely shown that the concentration of elements in the Marasca black/sour cherry, grown in the surroundings of Zadar, make it superior to any other type of black/sour cherry in the world - which is more than amplylocal brEEds of shEEp arE rEnownEd for thEir mEat with an ExquisitE tastE, rEsultinG from thE quality of GrazinG - aromatic, and mEdical mEditErranEan hErbs, and thE nEar vicinity of thE sEa which imparts a portion of its salt to thE land. this combination lEnds thE mEat of thEsE animals a vEry spEcial flavour.

proved by Maraschino, the famous liqueur of Zadar. The varieties of small Mediterranean breeds of sheep scattered across the Adriatic islands, throughout the coastal areas and coastal hinterland, are in themselves a source of ultimate culinary pleasures and an excellent paradigm of the peaks of Croatian gastronomy: those breeds are small, some of them even the smallest in the Mediterranean, and their milk yield is equally small due to meagre but exquisitely aromatic grazing. On the other hand, however, their meat, milk and the cheese produced from it are delectable indeed. Croatia cannot compete in quantities and yields of fruit, vegetables, fungi, fish, crabs, meat, cheese or honey with the large world producers. But then, it has no need to. The incredible variety and surprising quality of ingredients, food-stuffs, dishes and processed products offered by these climes and tradition are in themselves a world monument of culture with which one must become familiar with, nurture, preserve, respect and above all savour and enjoy. Hence, the Croatian National Tourist Board will make it an ongoing project to systematically research and present Croatian national gastronomy to the world public in the deeply held belief that, alongside natural attractions and cultural heritage, it is the countrys national gastronomy that represents an outstanding Croatian attraction. It is not enough to learn about it only in its summer version all four season offer equally exquisite gastronomic experiences. It can be safely said that Croatia is, so to speak, on the boil; agricultural experts and strategists of food production are undertaking a comprehensive inventory, and preparing a national strategy for the countrys road to the European Union. All edible treasures must be listed, described and protected as much as possible so as to ensure their survival within the strictly applied European rules. This is a massive task of


croatian Gastronomy

istria 6-11

KvarnEr 12-15

liKa - 16-19 Karlovac

dalmatia 20-23 zadar

dalmatia 24-27 ibEniK

dalmatia 28-31 split

dalmatia 32-35 dubrovniK

slavonia 36-39

cEntral 40-43 croatia

city of 44-53 zaGrEb

invaluable significance; a high percentage of Croats fear that Brussels bureaucracy would not look kindly upon the ancient habits and customs practiced by thousands of small family producers, the very ones who enable Croats to enjoy hundreds of superb dishes prepared throughout our country. Preservation and advancement of that wonderful heritage of our forefathers is, for Croats and the numerous national minorities who have lived here for a long time, a task which carries with it the very significance of survival. From the holdings of our farmers, from our meadows, forests, streams, rivers and the sea, in every season of the year there arrives to the Croatian markets a myriad of produce and products: fruit, vegetables, wild edible plants, herbs, fungi, fresh and saltwater fish, shellfish, crabs, molluscs, snails, frogs, game, fresh meat, sausages, salamis, hams and proscuittos, breads, rolls and cakes; and they never fail to surprise gourmands and connoisseurs from all over the world. Not by quantity Croatia is, as we have said, a small country but with their incredible variety. Amidst this wealth of choice one can select foodstuffs and dishes that stand shoulder to shoulder with the finest in the world, forming the basis of our national gastronomy which the world has yet to discover in its full glory, aroma and flavour. Bearing in mind its real potentials, very little is indeed known in the world about Croatia's gastronomy. This is why we are working on a strategy. Croatia will not amaze anybody with the quantities of food produced here. In the Croatian waters of the Adriatic there are relatively small numbers of fish and other sea creatures. But it is the story of the Adriatic which is typical of Croatias gastronomy: neither the sea nor the seabed is overcrowded by massive numbers, but the variety of species living here is quite something. From a culinary standpoint this wealth gains another, yet more distinct quality: the frutti di mare of the Adriatic are deemed to be among the most delectable in the world. Pilchard, sand smelt, anchovy, tuna, dentex, gilthead, John Dory, red mullet, scampi, sea spider, lobster, oyster, scallops, calamari, squid... In the right hands all of them can be transformed into a feast fondly remembered with pleasure even by those who have enjoyed feasts all over the world. Croatia neither can nor should compete with the large food producers. Here, the holdings are fragmented; fields, barns and

fishing boats are small. This situation, which for decades has been a serious national problem, is now proving to be a first class potential. In Croatia, chickens do indeed peck in courtyards, eating what nature provides; here, sheep do graze aromatic herbs; tuna fish feed on live pilchards in clear seas, and in forests wild strawberries happily grow in the company of mushrooms until bears discover them and have themselves a feast... Viewed against water resources throughout the world, Croatian waters, fresh and salt, standing and running,