What is Croatian cuisine like?

Croatian cuisine is heterogeneous and known as a "cuisine of the regions", since each region has its own distinct culinary traditions. It can be divided into a few regional cuisines which all have their specific cooking traditions, characteristic for the area and not necessarily well known in other parts of Croatia.

Mainland cuisine is characterized by the neighboring cultures – Hungarian, Austrian and Turkish, using lard for cooking, and spices such as black pepper, paprika, and garlic. The coastal region bears the influences of the Mediterranean cuisine - Italian and French, using olive oil, and herbs and spices.

Things to try when you're in Croatia

In Zagreb and Continental Croatia:

zagrebački odrezak – veal stuffed with ham and cheese and grilled with breadcrumbs
sarma –Sauerkraut rolls filed with minced pork meat and rice
štrukli – baked or cooked filled pastry
krpice sa zeljem – pasta with stewed cabbage

In Istria:

fuži (with truffles, for example) – a sort of homemade pasta
maneštra – a vegetable stew made with corn

In Dalmatia and on the islands:

crni rižot – cuttlefish risotto
buzara – shellfish sautéed in garlic, olive oil, parsley & white wine
šporki makaruli – traditional pasta with cinnamon flavored meat sauce (Dubrovnik)
soparnik – chard filled pie (Dalmatia)
viška pogača – salted sardine filled foccacia (island of Vis)
paški sir – famous sheep's milk cheese (island of Pag)

In Slavonia:

kulen – spicy pork sausage
riblji paprikaš (also called fiš-paprikaš) – spicy fish stew

What does a typical Croatian always have in their kitchen?

It's hard to imagine that there is any Croatian anywhere in the world who doesn't have at least one of these three things in their household:

  • Vegeta – a powdered seasoning made from a mixture of spices and various dried vegetables. It was invented in 1959 and now sold in around 40 countries worldwide.
  • Bajadera – a milk chocolate praline from nougat, enriched with almond, hazelnuts or walnuts.
  • Pelinkovac – a bitter liqueur based on wormwood. The alcohol content is 28%-35% by volume. It has a bitter, herby taste, similar to that of Jägermeister.

Exercise: The following phrases might be useful in a Croatian restaurant. Can you guess what they mean?

Molim Vas stol za jednu osobu/za dvije osobe Answer A table for one/two, please

Imate li jelovnik na engleskom? Answer Do you have a menu in English?

Što možete preporučiti? Answer What would you recommend?

Ja sam vegetarijanac (male) / vegetarijanka (female) Answer I'm a vegetarian

Bilo je jako ukusno, hvala! Answer It was delicious, thank you!

Račun, molim Answer The check, please

Zadržite ostatak Answer Keep the change