Nice to see you here! In Part 1 we covered the coastal cities of Croatia and in Part 2 we looked at its beaches and anchorages in the region. But what about the culture, and the food? Let´s delve in for a second and learn more about them.
Croatian culture is characteristically diverse. The ecological conditions and the cultures the Croats have come into contact with throughout history have resulted in three regional cultures: Pannonian, Dinaric and Adriatic.
In the Adriatic cultural zone, the population grew olives, vines, figs and almonds and reared sheep and goats. They few vegetables and fished in the Adriatic Sea. The inland regions, as with the coastal Adriatic region keep their culture alive with songs, costumes, dancing, cultural rituals and folk tales.
Croats share an overall sense of national culture, and regional and local cultural variations – particularly food and dialect. Dalmatian, Istrian, Slavonian and Zagorijan people from the regional areas of Croatia have distince characteristics.
In Istria, an Italian minority prefer the Italian language and live more like Italians. In Slavonia – along the Hungarian border, ethnic Hungarians (Magyars), prefer speaking Hungarian and identify more with that culture. There are also religious groups that maintain ther own identities, though the country is mostly Catholic.
In general, people stand close to one another and talk loudly, and staring isn´t rude in Croatia. Formality is maintained in language and behavior between people who don´t know each other well, and strangers nod their heads in passing. People who are on friendly terms with each other usually kiss on both cheeks.
Guests should not address a person by the first name until invited, and a handshake, eye contact and a verbal greeting based on the time of day is the perfect way to make a good impression.
Croats are family-oriented people and have very close relationships with their extended families, particularily on their father´s side. When invited into a local household, take flowers with an odd number of stems, a good bottle of wine or a box of chocolates for the hostess.
For more about the ins and outs of Croatian culture, here´s a great post.
The main meal of the day in Croatia is a late lunch. A typical lunch inland and in the north of the country might consist of chick or beef soup, cooked meat (usually pork), potatoes and bread. Pickled vegetables are served in the winter, and greens with vinegar and oil are served in the summer and spring.
Along the coast, meals include fish and pasta, risotto or polenta. Lamb is common in the Dalmatian highland area. Most people cook and eat at home, so restaurants are formal and expensive, but snacks on the streets and coffee are a welcome treat that people enjoy almost every day. Plum brandy is popular in Slavonia, and on the coast, grape and herb brandies are the norm.
This isn´t your regular risotto, it takes 7-12 hours to cook and a team of men share the cooking duties. This veal-based risotto may contain other meats, too, and ham, beef or rooster stock. Once it´s done, the meal is finished with lots of cheese from Pag Island, or Paski Sir, for extra flavor. Yum.
Brodet is a classic Dalmatian seafood stew that´s typically served with creamy polenta and or bread. It´s made with three types of fish or more, and some shellfish too. You can find it in many restaurants.
This flat vegetarian pie comes from Poljica in Dalmatia and it´s filled with Swiss chard, garlic and parsley. It´s cooked on a hot stone in a type of fireplace called a komin. I promise you won´t have seen anything like it!
Croatian seafood is so great because the Adriatic Sea is so clean. The fish are health, fresh and delicious, and grilled fish is loved by everyone. Cooked with salt, pepper and olive oil, this typical Croatian cuisine might include sardines, sea bream, seabass or scorpion fish. Try them all if you can!
You´ll find Fuzi in Istria. It looks a little like penne pasta at first glance, but it´s not. This hand-rolled pasta is served with the local white truffles, and when paired and eaten with Istrian wine, you might wonder if you can extend your vacation.
For more ridiculously delicious Croatian cuisine, check out this post.
So, what do you think of Croatian culture and food? Croatia is a unique place, and many people won´t get the chance to experience it during their lifetime. Will you?