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Christmas in Croatia
Christmas in Croatia

Flavors of Croatia

Christmas in Croatia
Sretan Bozic!
 
There are a number of different Croatian cuisines which can be grouped according to three main regions: Mediterranean cuisine, the mountain cuisine of the south, and the continental cuisine of the northern plains, each with its own particular customs. The north begins the holiday's food-related celebrations. Custom dictates that each family sow some wheat on the feast of St. Lucy (December 13) in a plate with a little water, to be used as a table decoration. The sprouts are then tied with a tricolor (red, white and blue) ribbon called a "trobojnica" around three candles.

On the coast
In Dalmatia, bakalar (dried cod) soup is the traditional dish for Christmas eve. On Christmas day, it's customary to eat pasticada (Dalmatian pot roast), sometimes sarma (stuffed cabbage), raisin doughnuts, krostuli (traditional Christmas doughnuts, finely knotted, fried and dusted with icing sugar), as well as dried figs and nuts.

In the north
Christmas eve is a fast day. Only plain bread is eaten, whereas in the evening "fat" beans are served with sauerkraut and onions fried in oil. Try the wonderful strukli (a kind of large vegetable ravioli) served with a compote of dried fruits (prunes, pears and apples).

When it comes to Christmas Day, there once was a time when everyone made a traditional bread called "cipov" (also prepared for Easter) from wheat, yeast and milk. Lunch is a three-course meal composed of cold meats, turkey and walnut and poppy seed rolls. Dinner is more elaborate and starts with a clear soup with fresh noodles. Next comes a spit-roasted suckling pig, a goose or turkey accompanied by the traditional strukli. There is an extravagant array of desserts with countless cakes and cookies. Among them we should mention Croatian Kuglof that bears no resemblance to its Alsatian namesake. It's a walnut and poppy seed cake glazed with egg, crowned for the occasion with a candle and a pine bough.

The Croatian baking tradition is evident everywhere. There are two kinds of bread: Badnji Kruh, or Christmas eve bread made with honey, walnuts and dried fruit; and the braided Christmas bread. Nutmeg, raisins and almonds are mixed into the dough before it is woven into the shape of a wreath. It often serves as the centerpiece for Christmas dinner and stays on the table until Epiphany.

Here are a few typical dishes

Christmas Eve dinner:

Cod fish - bianco and biudetto
Bakalar - bijeli i biudet

Smelts and salted sardines
Girice i slane srdele

Christmas Day dinner:

Stuffed cabbage
Sarma

Turkey with Zagorje noodles
Purica s mlincima

Suckling pig
Odojak

Dalmatian pot roast
Pasticada

Walnut roll
Orahnjaca

Poppy seed roll (cake)
Makovnjaca

Fritters
Fritule

Assorted Croatian cookies

Dried figs with walnuts
Suhe smokve s orasima

Grappa
Loza

Christmas in Croatia 1
 
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With the assistance of Zvonimir Frka-Petesic
Croatian Ambassade in Paris

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