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Is there a better way to get to know a country than through its food and wine? We think not! That’s why we are bringing you the basics on Croatian gastronomy – you may be surprised how much you don’t know about Croatia and how the best way to learn is to travel and discover its delicious food and even better wine.
Croatian cuisine is a mixture of authentic, local ingredients and influence of foreign cultures – from Italians, Austrians, Ottomans to Hungarians – everyone left their impact on the food and culture. We could easily describe the food as exciting and vibrant, and with each region bringing you something new and outstanding to taste!
Let’s explore further the basics of Croatian food & wine!
It is somewhat unusual but also wonderful that a small country like Croatia has such a rich culinary tradition, but its great geographical position and influence of history have left a tremendous impact. Croatian people are very proud of their heritage and take a lot of joy in preparing traditional meals – and are happy to share them with their friends and family.
From the east of the country and the spicy sausages of Slavonia, famous kulen and kulenova seka, fiš paprikas (fish stew) to the seafood in Dalmatia, as we said - Croatian food is different from one region to another.
When you embark on an adventure of traveling through Croatia you will see and taste the influence of many cultures - from Italians and their pasta to Greeks and their knowledge of winemaking to Turks (Osmans) that left burek, turska kava, and many other things.
As anywhere in the world, the best occasion to prepare homemade food is when some festivities are happening - and Croatian culture is not an exception. Many Croatian traditional festivities are directly linked to food, whether it is a religious occasion (from Christmas to Easter) or a significant moment like a wedding or just a regional celebration of maškare (carnival).
All of these are followed by a specific dish –bakalar (cod) is the obligatory part of Christmas Eve dinner, pork or lamb are served for New Year and krafne (doughnuts) and fritule or kroštule are always prepared for carnival. Without the mentioned food there would not be a proper holiday or celebration for any true Croat.
But, we must say there is simply not enough space in this article to list all of the traditional Croatian meals you must try during your stay in the country but we will do our best!
As we mentioned, Croatian food is quite diverse – from the shores of the Adriatic Sea in Dalmatia and Istria to the continental lowland each region has its own typical specialties and a way of cooking!
Although some dishes can be tried in all regions of Croatia there are some specific dished you should know and taste, whether you are visiting or living here.
In the next paragraphs, we will give you a quick overview of the food regions and wine in Croatia to help you better understand the gastronomy and culture.
From the shores of the Adriatic Sea in Dalmatia, through picturesque hills in Međimurje to the valleys of Slavonia and Baranja, each region of Croatia has its own special food that will surprise you.
Croatian gastronomy can be divided into 5 specific regions – Central Croatia, Eastern Croatia, Lika and Gorski Kotar, Istria and Kvarner, and finally – Dalmatia. They are not official regions of Croatia, but they can be separated like that based on food, ingredients, spices, and everything else that shaped the tradition in these areas.
In Croatia, your tastes can travel across centuries of tradition and history – with the world-famous Maraschino of Zadar, starters such as cheese from Pag, kulen and kulenova seka of Slavonia, oysters (dagnje)and mussels from Ston, turkey with mlinci in Zagreb, pašticada from Split, and desserts like kroštule or fritule in Dalmatia and world-renown truffles in Istria.
Find more about delicious Croatian traditional food in our article here.
Croatia and wine? Although it is not the first country that pops into your mind when it comes to wine, Croatians are very proud of their long tradition of winemaking.
Based on the historical facts Greeks were the ones that introduced winemaking in Dalmatia, so we can say that Croatia has a 2,000-year-long tradition of making wine.
Croatian wines are known for their focus on quality over quantity – meaning the amount of wine exported in the world is not high but on the other hand Croatia has a lot of long-established & mostly local varieties of wine. To introduce you to Croatian wines, here’s a broad overview of the wine regions and types of wine in this amazing country!
As with food, Croatia is divided into regions – but for wine, there are four of them:
Some of the best-known varieties of Croatian red wines along the Adriatic coast and on the islands are: Dingač, Teran, Merlot, Cabernet, Opolo, Plavac, Postup, and the most appreciated of the white wine varieties are: Malvazjia, Pošip, Pinot, Žlahtina and Muškat.
In continental parts, one can enjoy the famous Riesling, Graševina, Traminac, and others.
If we intrigued you with Croatian wines take a look at our article where we take you on a trip through all the bases on Croatian wines.
As we said.. Croatia is truly a land of delicious food and tasty wine and it would be a shame if you missed it!