“Do you have a good recipe for pašticada”, I was asked by the manager of Kuhaona. Talking to me, a woman from Dalmatia, with long-years of service in the kitchen – and I am still thinking before I act – obviously having much trust in my culinary and gastronomic knowledge. I jump to the offer, and before I start the story on a pašticada recipe that I love, I have to repeat some of the numerous insights regarding this symbol of Dalmatian cuisine.
In my childhood the seasonal menu was defined by the pace of ripening of seasonal fruit and vegetables grown in my grandma’s garden. The summer squash announced the summer season. They grew hidden on two spots in the garden.
In the northwestern part of Croatia behind Mount Medvednica – exactly where its name comes from (Zagorje = behind a hill) – lies the region of Hrvatsko zagorje.
This predominately hilly region stretches over 2,300 km2 and is bordered by the Drava River in the north, the Sava River and Mount Medvednica in the south, the Sutla River on the west and Mount Kalnik in the east.
In the time of our grandmothers food was not as available, and choices were not as diverse as today. Especially in the winter months. That’s why people found ways and passed on the knowledge of preserving food for longer periods of time.
One of the greatest and most beautiful Catholic holidays, Easter, is abundant with interesting customs which have been our heritage for ages.
Crazy fun time and life under the masks in the period between the New Year’s and Lent is deeply rooted in our tradition. All over Croatia, masked groups of our ancestors for centuries have used noise, ringing, dancing and calous behaviour to chase away the evil spirits and the winter, and to call for spring, new birth and fertility.
The story about Maraschino should begin with the story about the marasca cherry (Prunus cerasus marasca) that arrived to Zadar from Middle Asia in ancient times. It found a source of life in red soil and rocky ground and integrated Dalmatian climate into its small fruits.
Although the range of pumpkin benefits is quite known, its essential part, the oil produced from the pumpkin seeds, needs additional emphasis.
Originally called “zidnjak”, wall kitchen towels are white cloths embroidered with various motifs and messages. They would mostly be installed in kitchens, next to the stoves, when open fireplaces were replaced by closed stoves. Several decades ago they could be found in all countryside houses, and somewhat later also in urban homes.
Preparing dishes in a kettle belongs among the oldest methods of preparing food, next to barbecue.
Cooking outdoor results in special flavours and aromas of food. Primarily it is due to individual experience and recipe, which is often specific for its ratio of ingredients and amounts of seasonings.