Lunch, the Most Important Meal of the Day
Food and cooking are an artform in the Balkans and Ručak (lunch) is the most sacred meal.
I can’t go on writing about my ecperience here wothout tipping my hat to ručak. It is a gathering above the rest, where the (generally) women of the house cook up a feast to bring together the whole family (including neighbors, friends, grandparents, and anyone else who’s in the vicinity). It is a beautiful and exhausting tradition.
Ručak consists of at least five courses, lots of wine and heated disscussions. The courses are typically:
Predjelo (starter): some kind of smoked meat, olives, and bread
Salata (salad) / Juha (soup): shredded cabbage, sliced tomatoes, olive oil and vinegar for the salad, and a clear soup with some kind of meat and pasta
Glavno Jelo (main dish): some kind of fish near the coast, and pork/beef/chicken inland with potatoes, and blitva (boiled swiss chard)
Desert (dessert): This depends on the time of year and the nearest religious holiday ranging from sweet breads, to cakes, to ganaches
Kava (coffee): because coffee is not something you simply have with dessert, it is a course unto itself. It is always served turkish style (Croatian, Bosnian, etc. depending on where you are and who is serving)
*Note: if you are having true ručak, it will be served with homemade wine from the family’s personal cellar/vineyard. So good and hangover free!
Boxed cake mixes and T.V. dinners are insulting, and hard to find in this country. Everything comes fresh from the market or garden and is minimally flavored with fresh herbs, olive oil, and sea salt. It is always made from scratch and sooo delicious!
I already know I’ll need regular shipments of fresh olive oil, garlic, herbs, olives, figs, etc. if/when I leave Croatia.
In my humble opinion, if you come to Croatia and skip out on a true ručak, you have missed half of the experience! So if you do nothing else, find a good knoba and indulge yourself!
Dobar Tek (enjoy!)