Croatian Food

Center of any gathering

In Croatia, regardless of the situation, food is always on the table. For a short, friendly visit, you’ll offer homemade cookies or sweets. An announced visit includes a cold platter with cheese and prosciutto, bacon and fresh salad or salted sardines and anchovies, cheese in olive oil, and freshly sliced tomatoes. More formal occasion means more food.

In the past, Croatia was mostly a rural area, and people lived according to the sun cycle. Lunch was a central meal in those days. People would get up early to work in the fields. They were there already at dawn. Lunchtime was a necessary break to full a stomach and rest afterward. The afternoon was a time to get back to the fields, till sundown.

Dinners were usually light: mostly cooked vegetables, cheese, and lentils, chickpeas or beans soup. Enough to fill your stomach, but not too heavy that you can’t get asleep.

Fish was always more affordable, thus food for poor people. Small fishes like sardines, anchovies, mackerel, octopus, were also dried or salted for winter times when it wasn’t possible to get out to the sea. Seafood was just for family members, never something you would offer to your guests.

The meat was too expensive, and it was on the table just on Sundays and holidays, or for special occasions, always served in small portions. Of course, the arrival of guests meant that you would put the best you have on the table. A rich table meant plenty of meat served.

Croatian Food Customs

That custom still lives. A lunch served for guests usually includes several courses, each prepared with meat: from cold appetizers with prosciutto, over beef soup or a stew served with pasta, to chunk of roasted meat.

Sweets were always simple. Even today, a sponge cake, flavored with a homemade liqueur, represents the best cake. In the summertime, a seasonal fruit would be served, like delicious figs, peaches or apricots. A quince cheese called “kotonjata”, was always served in winter times, as well as “mantala”. It’s a dried, sweet, dark brown, thick paste, made of grape must, boiled with orange peels, coarse wheat flour, cloves, cinnamon, almonds, and walnuts.

Croatian food is simple, mostly boiled or simmered meals with just a few ingredients. We cook at home, and lunch is still the central meal. We live by the ancient saying: have breakfast like a king, have lunch like a rich gentleman, and eat dinner like a beggar.

Join me on my Dubrovnik Gastronomy tour, and you’ll get a chance to explore the Croatian food, taste some of the traditional meat, and vegetable meals.

Croatian Food - Walk with Vesna

Dubrovnik traditional sweet called “rozata”, similar to creme caramel

Croatian Food

Center of any gathering

In Croatia, regardless of the situation, food is always on the table. For a short, friendly visit, you’ll offer homemade cookies or sweets. An announced visit includes a cold platter with cheese and prosciutto, bacon and fresh salad or salted sardines and anchovies, cheese in olive oil, and freshly sliced tomatoes. More formal occasion means more food.

In the past, Croatia was mostly a rural area, and people lived according to the sun cycle. Lunch was a central meal in those days. People would get up early to work in the fields. They were there already at dawn. Lunchtime was a necessary break to full a stomach and rest afterward. The afternoon was a time to get back to the fields, till sundown.

Dinners were usually light: mostly cooked vegetables, cheese, and lentils, chickpeas or beans soup. Enough to fill your stomach, but not too heavy that you can’t get asleep.

Fish was always more affordable, thus food for poor people. Small fishes like sardines, anchovies, mackerel, octopus, were also dried or salted for winter times when it wasn’t possible to get out to the sea. Seafood was just for family members, never something you would offer to your guests.

The meat was too expensive, and it was on the table just on Sundays and holidays, or for special occasions, always served in small portions. Of course, the arrival of guests meant that you would put the best you have on the table. A rich table meant plenty of meat served.

Croatian Food - Walk with Vesna

Croatian Food Customs

That custom still lives. A lunch served for guests usually includes several courses, each prepared with meat: from cold appetizers with prosciutto, over beef soup or a stew served with pasta, to chunk of roasted meat.

Sweets were always simple. Even today, a sponge cake, flavored with a homemade liqueur, represents the best cake. In the summertime, a seasonal fruit would be served, like delicious figs, peaches or apricots. A quince cheese called “kotonjata”, was always served in winter times, as well as “mantala”. It’s a dried, sweet, dark brown, thick paste, made of grape must, boiled with orange peels, coarse wheat flour, cloves, cinnamon, almonds, and walnuts.

Croatian food is simple, mostly boiled or simmered meals with just a few ingredients. We cook at home, and lunch is still the central meal. We live by the ancient saying: have breakfast like a king, have lunch like a rich gentleman, and eat dinner like a beggar.

Join me on my Dubrovnik gastronomy tour, and you’ll get a chance to explore the Croatian food, taste some of the traditional meat, and vegetable meals.

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