Croatian cuisine is not really the kind that will get you readily interested. But if you’re a certified foodie and would love to challenge your taste buds and perhaps even titillate the other senses, then Croatian food is something you really have to try. With a variety of cultures providing distinct influences into every Croatian plate, you’d be treating yourself to a marriage of Turkish, Italian, Hungarian, and Austrian palates. Here are 4 weird yet yummy delicacies you should definitely try whenever you’re in Croatia.
Crni Rizoto is the Croatian version of risotto. The only difference is that instead of the creamy off-white to slightly-yellowish texture you are more familiar with, this Croatian risotto comes in black. Crni Rizoto is made with squid, releasing its infamous black ink into the fluffy rice, and giving it that rich velvety black goodness. Octopus, clams, mussels, and even cuttlefish may also find their way into the dish. It’s definitely a very unique take on a classic recipe. Just make sure to restrain yourself from ever showing your teeth until you get back to your hotel room.
Almost everyone loves lamb, especially those who are on a personal journey to improve their health. Vitalac is nothing more than grilled lamb but is an exceptionally popular meal in the local cuisine. There’s nothing weird with that, right? Well, you see, Vitalac includes the lungs, liver, heart and other internal organs or offal of lamb, grilled on a spit. The grilled lamb offal is then wrapped in the amniotic membrane of lamb – the caul – before being fired again on the spit. The perfectly-grilled caul has a certain bacon-crispiness to it. By the time your teeth sink into the offal, an explosion of flavors will truly reveal themselves. It’s bizarre at best, but a trip to Croatia is never complete without sampling the famous Vitalac on Brac.
While the food is actually not weird, the cooking method is, that is for most other westerners. Peka is a slow-cooked dish that includes vegetables and meat or sometimes even seafood. These are placed inside a cast-iron pan which is then covered with a lid that looks more like a church bell. The covered cast-iron pan is then covered in embers made from an open fire. Over the course of the cooking process, white wine and fresh herbs are typically added for awesome flavor. The heat generated by the embers somehow leaves a very distinct aroma and flavor on the ingredients that you will simply want to discard your oven when you return home.
This is one dish that vegetarians as well as vegans will definitely love. Soparnik is a traditional Croatian flatbread that is easily found in Dalmatia, but mostly concentrated in the region of Poljica. The flatbread is generously filled with roughly chopped Swiss chard and then baked to perfection in a wood-fired oven. Olive oil is drizzled and finely-chopped garlic is sprinkled over the freshly-baked Soparnik before it is cut into beautiful diamond-shaped miniature flatbreads.
Croatian cuisine is definitely not for everyone. But, so is traveling. Getting to know this former Yugoslav republic is best accomplished through the food they serve on a plate.