Authentic Croatian Cuisine: A Delicious Exploration of Local Flavours

For such a tiny country, Croatian traditional food can vary a great deal from one Croatian region to another. Of course, some dishes are found throughout the whole country. However, the complex history (and geography) of this boomerang-shaped nation has also resulted in specialist dishes in each region.

DALMATIAN FOOD

As our cruises mostly focus on Dalmatia, this is the best region to explore first. As you would expect, this coastal region has typically Mediterranean features to its cuisine: fish, olive oil, garlic, vegetables and herbs such as rosemary and parsley.

Inevitably, considering that Italians ruled swathes of Dalmatia at various points in history, there is a significant Italian influence in the cuisine from this region.

A classic dish is dagnje na buzaru (mussel stew), which consists of mussels sautéed in garlic, olive oil, parsley, and white wine. Another popular side dish that almost always accompanies grilled fish or squid is called blitva. It is made with Swiss chard, potatoes, olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice.

Is your mouth watering yet?

ISTRIAN FOOD

Although the cuisine from Istria is similar in many ways to that from Dalmatia due to the region having a lengthy Mediterranean coast, with further influence from Italy, Istria has some of its own unique dishes and cooking techniques.These include manestra, a kind of bean soup, or fuzi, a hand-rolled type of pasta.

And there is no way to discuss Istrian dishes without mentioning tartufi – truffles! Both black and white truffles thrive in the forests of Istria. It was a source of real irritation to Istrian pride that their truffles were sold for many years after independence as Italian.

Istrian truffles are most often eaten with pasta, njoki (gnocchi) or sometimes grated over a juicy steak.

INLAND CROATIA

The cuisine of inland Croatian regions such as Slavonia, Zagorje, Zagreb, and Lika shares many similarities with that of central European countries like Hungary and Austria. These regions were once under the control of the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg Empire, significantly influencing their culinary traditions.

Stewed vegetables with a small amount of meat or sausages are known as varivo or čušpajz in Croatian. They are perceived as a healthy, traditional meal. Additionally, sour cream can be added to the plate just before serving.

Popular dishes include gulaš (goulash) – especially with wine, fish stew (riblji paprikaš/fiš-paprikaš) or chicken stew, grah i zelje (pork hock bean stew with sauerkraut) and čobanac (shepherd’s stew).

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