What’s the best way to remember a trip, vacation, or experience? With various photos and souvenirs, of course! But what are the best souvenirs that you could bring from your vacation? Well, that’s entirely up to you. Ever since people started traveling as tourists, more than 200 years ago, souvenirs have become part of the experience. The best souvenirs are not the ones that are full of dust on our shelves or in our drawers … but beautiful memories of what we saw, felt, and experienced in a foreign country. Memories are not based only on what we see but also on what we taste, smell, and hear. When you put this all together, you get a souvenir that will remain with you forever – and Croatian food is just that! From Istria to Dubrovnik, Croatian cuisine combines all the senses and leaves the most profound memories. The diversity of Croatian cuisine lets even those who are not seafood fanatics indulge their senses. Not all of the food is sea-based, and there’s a little something for everyone on the Croatian cuisine menu. To enjoy Croatian cuisine, it’s not essential to know how to pronounce words like ‘maneštra’, ‘ombolo’ or ‘fritaja’… rather, distinguish the delicacies and provoke your taste buds with the Istrian truffles and the rich Dalmatian meals of fish, mussels, and crab! Keep in mind that today’s flavors and aromas of Croatian cuisine came from many conquerors in the region's history. Every part of Croatia has its traditional meal, and they’re a collection of food from all of the invaders. Delicacies in inner Croatia are similar to those from the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and those of the Ottoman Empire. At the same time, the Adriatic coast, with its Istrian and Dalmatian cuisine, reveals the influence of ancient Greek, Illyrian, and later Mediterranean influence, in particular Italian and French. The common appetizer is a brandy known as ‘rakija’, ‘biska’ or ‘komovica,’ and it’s helpful to know this beverage was introduced to the region between the 8th and 9th-century Arab alchemists introduced “Alambik,” which was a base for perfume. It quickly spread throughout Europe and our region, and that is how the ‘water of life’ became a beloved appetizer among the locals. Today, it’s almost impossible to start any Croatian meal without an appetizer in the form of a good, unique homemade brandy!

Combine divine dining with history. Whether you’re sailing, swimming, diving, or simply relaxing, Croatian cuisine will be your best companion to any activity during your travels in Croatia. While dining in Pula, Istria, you dine next to an amphitheater that was once the home of bloody Roman gladiator fights. This amphitheater is the 6th largest amphitheater in the world today, and it is one of only three that have been preserved. Dining in North Dalmatia in the city of Zadar, you dine in a 3000-year-old cultural heritage, a city full of creative and unique content. And at the very South of Dalmatia, in the city of Dubrovnik, your dining experience will be accompanied by some of the richest histories. The city for which there are no words but only feelings; the city whose history is present in every corner of the city; a city that is both a museum and theater! Since 1979, Dubrovnik has been a city with a vibrant culinary history on the UNESCO world heritage list. Sitting among the old City Walls, built from the 13th to the 17th century, eating ‘zelena menestra’, a green type of pasta, you eat a gastronomic specialty found on the list of traditional, indigenous dishes from the region of Dubrovnik. Its recipe has been mentioned in historical records since the year 1580! From ‘fritule’ and ‘rožata’, all the way to your standard ice cream, Dubrovnik is also home to some of the oldest desserts. While Dubrovnik is somewhat known for its ice cream (the Italians, actually the Venetians, brought it to the Dubrovnik Republic), a different kind of ‘cooler’ was more popular back then – the ‘katiflora’. It was a part of the inventory of every household in Dubrovnik. The ‘katiflora’ was a bottle for cooling drinks, kind of a thermos of its time. ‘Katiflora’ was a bottle with a glass tube in the middle, used to hold ice and drinks, lined with cork to keep the temperature low. At the same time, they had a type of glass to keep the drinks cool – ‘munčelica’; a tall glass filled with various drinks, covered with ice brought to Dubrovnik from the nearby hills and caves. Last but certainly not least, we come to that particular ingredient sprinkled or prepared with almost any Dalmatian meal, an ingredient that you will taste and devour: olive oil of exceptional quality. The oldest olive tree in the world, a protected natural monument, is located in Kastel Štafilić, near Split, approximately 1750 years old. The diameter of its trunk is 6.20 m, and the crown an astonishing 18 meters. It is assumed that it was brought from Corfu or southern Italy and that this was when the tradition of producing olive oil in the Mediterranean region of Croatia started. A little further in the Mediterranean, food was an important part of Greek life as it was a connection with their gods. They showed love to their gods by sacrificing livestock, asking the gods for good luck and their love in return. They loved their gods so much the Greeks prepared food and drinks that only the gods could eat. 2000 years ago, the Greeks brought their wines to the region and influenced Croatian cuisine. So while spoiling your taste buds with traditional drinks and foods, remember who the food was initially prepared for, and begin to feel like a god. For the end… there’s not much to add but: come, indulge, discover the flavors yourself, and – dobar tek!!

Author: Boba Komljen

Got interested? Get in touch!