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Croatia Cuisine


Croatian cuisine is known to be very diverse, as there are many cooking styles, throughout the country. The traditional dishes that are prepared by the Croatians have very old origins. The ingredients and the preparation techniques used by the people that live in the mainland Croatia differ from the ones that are practised in the coastal regions. Many influences can be observed in the Croatian cuisine. For example, the mainland areas have been affected by the Slavic nations, as well as by the Hungarian, Austrian and Turkish cuisines, while the coastal areas present influences of very old civilisations, such as Greeks, Romans and Illyrians. Also, there aredishes that resemble of the Italian and French cuisines.

The Croatian dishes are mostly based on meat, either pork or game meat, such as rabbit, cheese, poppy seed. These are foods that have Hungarian origins. Also, the wine resembles of the Hungarian cuisine. The Turkish influence is felt in the great amounts of spices that are used, meat that is enhanced with onions and loaded with garlic. Austrians affected the Croatian cuisine and the influence can be seen in dishes that contain cabbage and in breaded dishes or desserts such as: strudel, doughnuts, cream puffs and cakes that contain walnut cream.
A traditional meal in Croatia features dishes that are based on potatoes, rice, corn, meat or fish. Marenda is a traditional dish that is served at the breakfast. It is made of cheese, fish and bread. The dairy products also are important for the Croatians.

A large body of books bears witness to the high level of gastronomic culture in Croatia, which in European terms dealt with food in the distant past, such as the Gazophylacium by Ivan Belostenec, a Latin-Kajkavian dictionary dating from 1740 that preceded a similar French dictionary. There is also Beletristic literature by Marulić, Hektorović, Držić and other writers, down to the work written by Ivan Bierling in 1813 containing recipes for the preparation of 554 various dishes (translated from the German original), and which is considered to be the first Croatian cookbook.

Traditional dishes are honoured by people from Croatia. They organise festivals to celebrate their national foods and beverages. One of the most significant events that is related to the Croatian cuisine is named Gastronomy and Tourism Days and is hosted by Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. Other important events are: International Food Fair, which is also organised in Zagreb and Vinovita. This first one features many other countries that want to promote their best foods, while the second one focuses on wine. Also, the holidays are very important and there are certain dishes that are related to the most important days. The chefs and the ordinary people take advantage of these events to display their newest manners in which they prepare the dishes.

Traditional Dishes

Croatian cuisine can, roughly summarised, be divided into some few regions which all have their specific cooking traditions, characteristic for the area and not necessarily well-known in other parts of Croatia. Meanwhile, however, most dishes can be found all across the country. This is also why the varied cuisine of Croatia is called "cuisine of the regions".

In the eastern continental regions (Slavonija and Baranja) spicy sausage such as kulen or kulenova seka is a must-try. Čobanac ("shepherd's stew") is a mixture of several different kinds of meat with a lot of red spicy paprika.

In Hrvatsko Zagorje and Central Croatia, pasta filled with cheese called štrukli is a famous delicacy, as is purica s mlincima (baked turkey with a special kind of pastry). Sir i vrhnje (sour cream with cottage cheese) can be bought fresh on the Zagreb main market Dolac. Croats love a bit of oil and you will find plenty of it in piroška.

In mountainous regions of Lika and Gorski Kotar meals made of mushrooms, wild berries and wild meat are very popular. One of the typical dishes in Lika is police (oven-baked potatoes covered with bacon) and several kinds of cheese (smoked cheese and škripavac).

The coastal region is well known for truffle delicacies, soup maneštra od bobić (Istria) and Dalmatian pršut.

Some other traditional Croatian dishes include:

• pršut i paški sir (air-dried ham similar to Italian prosciutto and sheep's cheese from the island of Pag) platters are served as an appetiser;

• salata od hobotnice (octopus salad) is made from octopus, potato, onion, chopped parsely, olive oil and lemon juice;

• crni riýot (black risotto) is made from cuttlefish black ink;

• gulaš (goulash) is similar to the Hungarian version from where it originated;

• janjetina (roast lamb) is popular in inland regions, where its not unusual to see whole lamb roasting on a spit at roadside eateries.

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