... and what is actually dalmatian food?

Zadar Travel Blog

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What you can get everywhere is Pizza. And, believe me, the best Pizza in the world you'll find in ÔÇŽ. no, no, no, I wasn't to say Zadar, thankyouverymuch - in Croatia (quick change to my "Proud to be Croatian"-T-shirt ;)).┬á What the hungry homo sapiens also can find at almost every corner are sandwich bars. The warm sandwich ("topli sendvi─Ź") has become so common that it deserves to be added to the traditional croatian cuisine. What the fish & chips is to the English, is the warm sandwich to the Croatian.

So, Pizza and sandwich, that's what you can get everywhere.

Just like grilled meat and fish. But all this you can get anywhere in the world, right? Tourists often ask me "We would like to have some real, original, traditional dalmatian food. What would that be?" Hm, honestly, that's not that easy. Here's what I think why: Dalmatia has been a poor land, and people didn't have much to eat. The generation of my parents still remembers what it was like to be hungry and have nothing to eat. So, the traditional meals are very simple. Maybe too simple for a spoiled 21st-century-boy (and girl). These traditional meals would be "zatarci" - cooked dough made of flour and water and served with milk, "palenta" - what you might know as "polenta", corn mash served with milk or meat sauce, "srdele" - sardines fried in deep oil and served with bread and olive oil, "─Źi─Źvarda" - a bean-like grain prepared as a stew,┬á "pa┼íte i kumpira" - a stew made of potatoes and pasta, "pa┼íta-fa┼żol" - a stew made of beans and pasta, "jaja i kumpira" - very popular when you're hungry and don't have time to cook nor mind the cholesterol: eggs and fries.
I think the most popular dalmatian vegetable is "blitva" - chard, prepared in the typical dalmatian cooking style called "na lešo" - anything just boiled and spiced with salt and olive oil. Of course, today these meals are enriched with meat, ham, salad or various herbs, to suit the eating habits of the modern (wo)man.

Here's what I would recommend if I was your waiter: "crni ri┼żot" - black risotto made of cuttle-fish (looks yucky, but tastes yummy), "riba sa gradela" - any fish prepared on the grill, with olive oil, parsley and garlic and a green salad, "lignje sa ┼żara" - grilled squid, again with olive oil, parsley and garlic, and "hobotnica ispod peke" - octopus under the Peka. "Peka" is something you really should try: meat or fish and potatoes are put into a bowl and then put in an open fire place and covered with the iron bell-like Peka which is covered with the hot coal - any meal prepared like this has a unique taste.

Note that Peka usually has to be ordered in advance, for it takes a few hours to prepare it. Then we have the dalmatian smoked ham "pr┼íut", the best in many's oppinion being from Posedarje and Drni┼í, and the famous "pa┼íki sir" - cheese from the island Pag. Anyone for dessert? Try "pala─Źinke" (though not really traditionally croatian, but an austrian inheritance) - crepes with walnuts or just plain marmelade, and "ro┼żata" - a kind of creme brulee that has a few preparing variations, the original supposedly being from Dubrovnik. If you happen to bump into a local feast, you'll be offered "fritule" and "kro┼ítule" - a kind of doughnuts, the latter shaped liked a knot, and "smokvenjak" - a 'cake' made of dry figs and herbs.┬á

I can hear voices calling "How about a drink, huh?" Okay, how about some water? I change to my "Greenpeace"-T-shirt and declare proudly that tap water in Croatia is drinkable :)  Otherwise, there's the wine, plenty of different wines into which I won't go further because that's a matter of taste. I'm sure you'll find one that suits your taste. A soft drink that has cultic status here is "Cockta" - the yugoslav answer to Coca Cola, it's actually a bubble-drink based on rosehip. Very popular is "maraška" juice - the maraška being a specific cherry native to the area of Zadar. Speaking of: the alcoholic variant is "Maraschino" - the liquer made of the maraška cherry, a nice souvenir from Zadar sold in beautifully shaped and decorated bottles.  Then there are "rakija" - grape brandy, and "travarica" - herb brandy. You can find them in any supermarket, but try those sold by the locals and at the markets, you might find a tasty gem.


Eric says:
Ah, thanks for the info. I'm not sure it was very spicy. It seemed to just be a large quantity of slow cooked meat. But I'll look up ─îorbanac and see if any of the photos look familiar :)
Posted on: Sep 24, 2009
vila says:
Hm,... Zagreb, you say? Something like a goulash? Was it spicy? It might be ─îorbanac, it's a traditional Slavonian dish (Zagreb's not in Slavonia - not to be confused with Slovenia - but close enough). It's delicious, yes, but I couldn't eat it, my mouth was burning :)
Posted on: Sep 24, 2009
Eric says:
Thanks for sharing! In Zagreb, I had a special meat dish, but I forget what it was. Basically, it was just a lot of meat that had cooked for hours, and was really tender and delicious. I think it was a Croatian speciality. Any idea what it might be called?
Posted on: Sep 24, 2009
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