A wise man once said that love comes through the stomach and a lot delicacies are commonly thought as an aphrodisiac. Food should be fun and preparing dishes should be made with love. And Croatians surely do love food because for them food is everything! So, we decided to show you the best of it, directly from lovable Croatia. Relax and let your senses go crazy…
Table of Contents
Lamb or “Janjetina”
If you’re thinking about visiting island of Cres, Pag or any sheep-raising region of Croatia, you will probably notice several restaurants advertising roasted lamb. It’s a typical traditional dish in these parts that roadside taverns began serving decades ago. It is served with potatoes, rosemary, laurel, olive oil and other local vegetables, such as onion, carrot, tomatoes and salad.
One way of preparing lamb that’s typical for Istria is to bake it slow underneath a peka – a metal lid that is covered with hot embers. Croatians are proud of this delicacy and if you’re feeling really, really adventurous you should order lamb’s head. Sometimes it’s on the menu, sometimes it isn’t. Croatians will tell you that this is the best part of the lamb – they consider the cheeks, tongue, brains, and eyeballs as special delicacies. We didn’t try that head yet, but our relatives guarantee that roasted lamb is definitely the food of gods.
Prosciutto or ‘Pršut’
Pršut is Croatian way of preparing home-cured ham. It is often served on a tray together with cheese (often it is paški sir – the most famous chesse from the island of Pag). Dalmatian pršut (as the name says by itself from the Dalmatia region) is the latest Croatian product to receive the EU geographical origin label from the European Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. So, we recommend you to try it as soon as possible, and surely with a glass of any delicious Croatian wine.
Greaves or ‘Čvarci’
Croatia’s answer to pork cracklings (or greaves) simply is called čvarci, and we all know that it means fried pig’s fat. To prepare čvarci, fat is cut into small blocks and fried in more fat. Slightly crispy on the outside, čvarci have a buttery texture and taste. Traditionally, they are a winter snack. You can find them at grocery stores, but it’s best to buy homemade čvarci from the market.
Cuttlefish risotto or ‘Rižoto od sipe’
Probably you’re familiar with risotto – slow cooked rice dishes – but you’re very lucky if you know what black risotto is. This Dalmatian delicacy gets its black color from the ink of cuttlefish. This meal is prepared by removing the sacs of ink from the cuttlefish and adding it to the rice. If done well, the ink gives the risotto a rich delicious creamy taste that shows true nature of the Mediterranean dish. We assure you that it tastes better than it looks!
Štrukli is a pastry and cheese dish which is common in Zagreb and Zagorje hills. It is made and served in two forms: boiled štrukli are large parcels of dough filled with cottage cheese and baked štrukli means the dough and cheese are baked in an earthenware dish. Either way, the luck is on you because this dessert will bright up your day!
Shrimps or ‘Škampi’
Shrimps are usually served whole and you have to crack it with your fingers to open. It is a recognizable and traditional way of cooking fish dishes in Croatia – directly from the sea to your table! In restaurants and taverns they’re often served as a part of a sauce meal called buzara, made from garlic and white wine. It is a meal fit for any king!
Smokvenjak is a traditional Dalmatian fig cake and one of a kind nutritional bomb. It is prepared according to the unique recipe made with dried figs, almonds and homemade herb-grappa called travarica. It originates from the island of Cres, and it’s popular throughout Dalmatia. This traditional meal of farmers and shepherds is eaten with bread, cheese, olives and even other dried fruits. We know you’ll love its round-shaped look and that bittersweet taste!
Cabbage rolls or ‘Sarma’
Sarma is a dish made from cabbage leaves filled with pork or veal meat, rice and bacon. It is a traditional meal of the whole Balkan, but we must recommend a special sub type called Arambašica, a version of sarma found in the Dalmatian hinterland that contains more meat and less rice than usual sarma. Some call it a queen among the meals, some call it winter’s gift, and we will leave it to you to judge because we all love sarma. Because here in Croatia, sarma is life!
Rab cake or ‘Rabska torta’
It is believed that Rabska torta (Rab Cake) was served for the first time in 1177 when Pope Alexander III was overtaken by a storm as he was crossing the Adriatic. In order to enhance this unexpected ceremony and to express their respect, nuns of the Benedict order served him this special flavour cake. Its main ingredients are almonds and Maraschino liqueur, and it is traditionally baked in the shape of a spiral, although today the most popular way is heart-shaped version. Its taste will surely make you fall in love with the whole of Croatia.
Rožata is an essence of Dubrovnik by its taste and looks. It is a custard pudding similar to flan and crème brûlèe and, by now, there is a number of modern versions recipes. We recommend you to try it in Dubrovnik and only there because who knows it better than the locals that made it and preserved it for centuries. It is made of eggs, lemon peel, sugar and milk – a light and sweet dessert to make your senses go crazy!
So, when we talk about Croatians, one thing comes to mind – if you’re what you eat, Croatians are definitely one great bunch of health and happiness!