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C - 21: Dalmatia in Seven Dishes

Food is such a wonderful expression of culture. I do not know of any other cultural achievement that touches so many senses. We can smell it, taste it, we see it, touch it and we even hear it sizzle when we prepare it. Try to do this with a marble column, a painting or a piece of music ... 😊 We already heard on several occasions how poor the soil of Dalmatia’s hinterland is. The karsty limestone can’t retain water and tiny bushes are all that grows. No large fields, no developed agriculture. Just arid - almost semi-desert with its crooked ground hugging trees.

Hinterland between Dubrovnik and Split

In is thus no surprise that the influence from the mountains which we encountered in Albania diminishes. The Dalmatian cusine centers around seafood, fish, pork for the first time (we are now in Christian territory), some lamb, fresh vegetables and - to nobody’s surprise - is complemented by carbs from the other side of the Adriatic: rice, pasta and corn, products grown on the fertile plains of the Po Valley (also under Venetian control)

Brodet is a thick fish soup flavored with onions, garlic, tomatoes, parsley, olive oil and spices. It is often served with polenta, introduced of course from Italy

Pršut, the dry-cured and salted ham, is a speciality of Istria and Dalmatia. It takes at least a year to cure it with the help of the cold Bura wind that blows from the north-east. It is usually served as an appetizer at the beginning of a meal often with local cheese, bread and a glass of wine and tastes as good as Prosciutto di Parma

Peka is a traditional cooking method used to prepare octopus or lamb under a cast-iron dome. The dish is spiced with classic Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary and sage and is slowly roasted. Being covered the entire time it retains all its flavors.

Every seafood restaurant in Dalmatia has Crni Rizot on the menu - black risotto with squid ink. Besides squids, the risotto often contains other seafood such as mussels, clams and other shellfish. Could not find out whether black risotto was invented in Venice or in Dalmatia. In any case, the risotto rice has to be imported from the Italian Po Valley where it is grown for centuries after Venitian merchants brought it home from the Middle East (rice reached Arab lands during the first Khalifats in 800 AD).

Buzara is a method of cooking seafood, mainly crustaceans and shellfish. Scampi, shrimps, mussles or clams are shortly cooked with white wine, garlic, parsley and breadcrumbs. Tomato paste is sometimes added. Very simple dish that can be varied by the different herbs being added. Definitely yummie. You eat it with your fingers.

At times Buzara is served with linguine instead of bread crumbs and comes very close to Spaghetti alle Vongole, an Italian dish we are all familiar with. This time you need a fork to fork the linguine 🙄

Blitva is a dish with Swiss chard and potatoes. First garlic is roasted in olive oil, then the potatoes are added and a few minutes later the cut Swiss chard. This yummie dish takes about 20 minutes to cook and must be tasted!

Enjoy the preview of your dinners this August!!!

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