My wife loves to make themed meals; our Super Bowl dinner is a perfect example of what she comes up with. I have a cousin set to embark on a vacation to Croatia and thought a Croatian themed dinner would be the best way to set the mood for the trip while learning more about Croatian cuisine.
Other than being part of what used to be called Yugoslavia, I know almost nothing about Croatia. Friends and co-workers that have traveled there say that it’s a beautiful country. In fact, it’s the 18th most popular tourist destination in the world. Learning this, I may have to add Croatia to my ‘bucket list’.
Doing the research for recipes is often challenging if you’re trying to make dishes that originate outside the US. Here are two rules you can use to guide your recipe selection:
Rule #1 – Don’t buy anything that you’re afraid to prepare.
Rule #2 – Refrain from buying meat from any animal that is considered ‘cute’.
The first rule comes from reading the book Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. In executing the recipes, Julie Powell was introduced to the fine art of extracting bone marrow from a cow bone. After reading what she went through, this isn’t anything that I wish to learn or do.
In other countries, traditions may be different. Sometimes animals which are consumed outside of the United States are sometimes not tolerated or accepted due their ‘cute’ appearance. For example, Mo-chica in Downtown LA serves alpaca in its stew. Alpaca is a mini llama indigenous to South America. In addition, the vegan wife of one of my colleagues will get upset if she finds out that you’re eating veal. So imagine one of your dinner guests going ballistic because you served something that was deemed unacceptable.
The appetizer was a simple cucumber salad. Many dishes including this one originated in Hungary. We served it chilled. It was extremely simple to make and it was surprisingly tasty. I found the recipe on food.com.
We selected Croatian chicken paprikas as the entrée and served it with egg noodles. With the paprika, it has an obvious Hungarian origin. I think the caraway seed was a nice enhancement to the sauce. Egg noodles are good for “mopping” up the sauce on our plate.
I recently purchased fresh green lake green beans from the Torrance Farmers Market and was reminded how much I enjoy them. South Croatian Sautéed French Beans was the vegetable dish we selected and I was unaware that French green beans or haricots verts is a summer vegetable. I was extremely fortunate because Trader Joes had fresh haricot vert in their produce section. I had to get over the fact that they weren’t grown locally.
Bazlamaca or Croatian cornbread was also prepared. Unlike American cornbread, this was more moist and a bit sweeter. It’s also served for breakfast in Croatia.
My cousin brought over a bottle of R6 Riserva from BIBICh Winery from Croatia. We immensely enjoyed the bold red wine with some hints of cherry. I later found out that when Anthony Bourdain visited Croatia, he too, enjoyed the wines from BIBICh Winery.
My cousins friends brought over a chocolate bun bread pudding from Short Cake Bakery located in LA’s Farmer’s Market. Short Cake is a brand new bakery started by the late Amy Pressman. The bread pudding was very dense and had strong cocoa flavor. I’m sure it would have gone well with vanilla Haagan Daz, but we didn’t have any on hand.
We have a family vacation coming up soon where we will be traveling to Germany. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any suggestions for food to try. My niece was there recently and marveled over ‘pork knuckle’.