Food (and fun) in Croatia
In june I had the good fortune to take a proper vacation and went sailing in Croatia for a week. Of course, besides the incredible scenery and history of the places visited, I was interested in the food 🙂 The southern coastal region of Dalmatia has always been firmly rooted to the Mediterranean and has a heavy Italian feel, most of it was under control of the Roman Empire and Venetian Republic for centuries. After 1797 the area was in a back and forth with the French, then Austria, and finally Yugoslavia in 1918. In 1991 Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia and fought a bloody war for 4 years to secure it. The country joined the EU in 2013. It has about 4,3 million people and the capital is Zagreb.
The proximity to the Mediterranean is evident in the cuisine, heavily influenced by Italian practices and ingredients. Pastas, gnocchi, steaks, mussels, minestrones, buzzaras – all very common. Croatia has its own wine industry and the locals are wine drinkers, but I wasn’t too keen on them (No teniu ni un Penedès oi?) and lots of people seemed to drink them as spritzers.
Restaurants varied in quality, most of the ones I went to were not especially good, had identical menus, and seemed more interested in turning tables for tourists. Like me. This lack of quality in restaurants is not due to the cuisine or quality of the ingredients in Croatia, but more because I didn’t research beforehand where to eat, obligatory when traveling to a touristy area. This is akin to eating at some place on Les Rambles.
Over the past 20 years since the war ended Dalmatia has become a major tourist zone, to further sell itself the area seems to play up its historical link with Italy, to the point of disputing that Marco Polo was from Corçula – it’s generally well accepted that he was from Venice. While this massification of tourism undoubtedly has provided the Croatians with employment and an additional source of money, this tends have a cost of the loss of traditional culture and custom. Something we in Catalonia can certainly identify with.
While sailing my route included Split, the second largest city of Croatia which was originally the Roman palace of Diocletian, this structure still forms the historic centre of the city. From Split south to Palmizana, a forested resort island near the third stop, Hvar, the hot spot of Dalmatia and a sort of mini-Ibiza. On Palmizana I recommend Zori, the best place I ate at the whole week. Then on to Corçula, a lovely 100% preserved medieval town with a more family oriented mood. Finally to the amazing Dubrovnik, ancient Ragusa, of Game of Thrones fame and absolutely stunning to see for yourself.
Next vacation stops are, first, camping and a music festival near Vic, and Myanmar in october! Be back to post on how to cook like a pro when camping and what people eat on the other side of the world 🙂
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