Back in 2008, the hubs and I decided to take advantage of our pre-baby time and jaunt across Croatia. We weren’t Primal then, but it occurs to me now how Paleo/Primal friendly of a place it is.
Similar to Italy, but without the crowds and cost, Croatia offers plenty to see, do, and eat. Its history is fascinating, including the recent war-time past, of which there are still visible reminders like shelled out houses, signs warning of buried mines, and beautiful monuments erected by the survivors. We hiked, biked, kayaked, and ate our way through the country for a week.
I have to admit that the food was a little mysterious to me at the time: fresh trout, sardines, sausages, homemade prosciutto, olives, cheese, hard-boiled eggs. But now it seems like a Primal paradise! Just go easy on the wonderful breads.
And beware the prodigious amounts of alcohol. Holy moly, I was slurring words in a language I don’t speak! They drink lots of homemade grappa, which can be made with all sorts of organic material like grapes, walnuts, and even grass. It’s basically Everclear and I’m pretty sure you can light your breath on fire with it.
There were two memorable foodie stops on our tour. The first was at Bobo’s vineyard and farm, somewhere between Zagreb and Zadar, where everything—from the pickles to the prosciutto—was made by Bobo. After Bobo’s young, homemade red wine, we all went kayaking. I can’t recommend doing so when inebriated, but…what am I saying?! Of course I can! It was a blast.
The second was Mario’s house in Paklenica National Park. We hiked for several miles through gorgeous karst landscape to a little stone house set on a hill. According to Mario, this house had been his family’s and he grew up there. He had a great understanding of the area and its edible offerings, and seemed impressed that I found mint, oregano, and wild parsnips on the hike. When we arrived, Mario had a meal of bone-in chicken ready for us, slow-cooked all day over a fire in an open-air kitchen. Literally, the kitchen roof had a big hole cut out to allow the smoke to escape.
It’s hard to describe just how good this meal was (as a woman of words, I don’t say this lightly). The chicken was cooked in a huge flat-bottomed pan with bacon, potatoes, onions, and fresh herbs. The meat fell right off the bone, and even though it was swimming in a pool of grease, the melted fat seemed more like a decadent sauce than extraneous oil. As you’ll see in one of the pictures, I definitely had my fill.
While there’s no way I could recreate this meal, I accidentally came close. The recipe can be found here.
*Footnote for the ladies: If you ever need a major ego boost, the men of Croatia will love you. Loudly and demonstrably. I was a superstar over there, though I’m not sure my husband appreciated the attention as much as I did.