Croatian Cuisine

The awareness of similarities and differences of cuisine in various Croatian regions is based on the data from times when the majority of inhabitants were living in the countryside. Interesting topics and pictures from rural life were attracting the attention of ethnologists in the mid-19th century. However, not before 1898 did various almanacs for rural life and customs start publishing such material.

Although the culture of dieting is a dynamic process, some elements are constant, while others change or are taken from other cultures. What could be interesting for tourists are dishes prepared from ingredients grown for centuries in our country, such as beets, chard, broad beans, chickpeas, and from milk and meat of indigenous cattle and poultry like Istrian bovine, Turopolje or black Slavonian pig, turkey from Zagorje, varied venison meat. Indigenous wild plants and herbs have for centuries been used in food preparation, and tourists could also gather them.

What is interesting to note is also the fact that modern diet analyses confirm the recognisability of regional cuisines as observed over a century ago. There are differences in preferring certain types of food among the people-oriented towards Mediterranean, central-European, oriental or Slavonic traditional cuisine. Those contemporary transformations are a living culture within present traditional culture. When describing dishes it is recommended to use the expressions domestic or heritage dishes instead of authentic, original, ethnic or foreign.

Croatia has through centuries faced with numerous migrations of people. Accepting cultural achievements, including cuisine, cannot be stopped by any war, border or prohibition. Dishes are not taken through listening, as the case is with music, songs or stories. One has to watch how a dish is prepared. In the preface to her book “Dalmatinska kuhinja”, the author Dika Marjanović Radica, when referring to national dishes, says: “Every nation has its own national dishes that suit the character, the climate and the health of the region concerned“. Let us follow her thoughts and discover the dishes still appreciated and irreplaceable, prepared whenever possible since good eating habits are established when one is still a child. We will here present Slavonic and Mediterranean cuisine and their historical aspects, but we will also include regional and local specialties from other Croatian regions.

Author: Nives Rittig Beljak, Ph.D.

Photography: Martin Turk /

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