Shop like a local!
Maybe it is just me,but I love to take my time and browse through a supermarket in a foreign country. You can learn a lot about habits of locals. I remember markets in Provence France. 6 to 10 meters of rose vines in each store. Or several brands of those strange huge donut looking pastries when in Austria (Germknödel – Love them!), or the anemic sausages from Germany (Weißwurst)…
So, what not to miss when in Croatia?!
In no particular order, here it goes:
1. Čokolino. (The letter Č is pronounce like Ch in Che Guevara.) This wheat flakes and milk-based breakfast was the start of my every morning as a kid. The original has chocolate
flavoring (‘Čoko’ is for Čokolada- Croatian word for chocolate) but now (like Oreos or Ferraris) you can find them in different flavors and colors. (Ferrari is supposed to be RED!) There is no strict recipe, so as a kid the main distinction I was making between my friends was based on how thick they were making their Čokolino. I didn’t care much for people that were making their Čokolino too thick. On the other hand, my grandma was making it so thinly that the minuscular flakes were swimming by each other without touching. That was stupid because it looked like a milk soup with small noodles. She was saving on everything. Although Čokolino is full of sugar, some people add some more. Milk cold or warm? The correct answer is warm. Those that use cold milk are wrong!
2. Linolada. From the creators of Čokolino there is another threat that can cause diabetes. One of those jars one should have hidden somewhere at home in case of a sudden depression attack. Don’t consider it to be a fake Nutella although it is a similar product that was created for the same reason. There was a shortage of cacao at some point in history so they tried to substitute chocolate with hazelnut. There is a white and the brown one, usually combined in the same jar. White one is better. You can buy it in a jar or as the snack version. In better supplied shops you can find it in a plastic container consisting of two tiny separate hot tubs (can’t find a better word). The width of the tubs is of a kid’s index finger. To use on: piece of bread, pancake or any dough piece of pastry you want to upgrade. Or just dig your finger into it, like George Costanza did with peanut butter.
3. Domaćica. It is a cookie dipped in chocolate. Just the lower part. Now again, you can find them dipped in nongluten, Himalayan, organic Aloe Vera, but you should go for the original. They come in a box that say 10 servings or something like that. It is a lie. It is one movie, one person. Domaćica means ‘a housewife’. Don’t know why this name.
4. Cedevita. A powder you add to water so you make some sort of juice. It does include
seven million vitamins and some other healthy stuff, so it should make you healthier somehow. To be honest it is mostly sugar and lemon acid. Just like most of the other stuff on this list, the original was only one- orange flavored. Now you also have lemon, lime, grapefruit, elderberry… We loved that as kids, and most of the households will still have a jar of Cedevita in the kitchen. It is refreshing and something we still love and use in our everyday lives, so just buy one and try it yourself! Put a little bit more than instructions say and drink it freshly made.
5. Cockta. It is not a fake Coca-Cola although it looks very similar. Unlike other communist countries, our country was very friendly with the western world, so we had Coca-Cola all the time. Cockta is different. Yes, it is basically caramelized sugar and water, but the flavor is coming from pomegranate. I like Coca-Cola, but prefer Cockta. So, give it a try. Also, you should try Pipi which is our version of Fanta. Unless you see it, you won’t believe that they named a yellow bottled drink “Pipi”. It actually got its name from Pippi Longstocking and what her face on a bottle has to do with anything- we are still trying to find out. In our heads, this drink is still connected to a commercial from the early 80s, featuring one of the most beautiful models in our country running, dancing and riding on a motorbike on Split’s famous sandy beach Bačvice. Worth checking on YouTube if you are into 80s.
6. Vegeta. Patented in 1959. this spice (condiment) for sure at one point in history crossed the borders into your country. It is made of dried vegetables, flavor enhancer and salt. It does not have some intense spices inside like curcuma or anis. Try to put it in a stew or risotto, it will make things yummier, without affecting the original taste. Look for a small bag package if you don’t want it to live forever in your kitchen, because one teaspoon is enough for the whole meal. For a small bag you will pay around 1USD and you can find it in literally every supermarket.
7. Frank kocka. It is a vacuumed ‘brick’ of grained coffee, a favorite choice for local Turkish coffee addicts. A must gift if you are visiting your chatty neighbor for an afternoon of gossiping (packs well with aforementioned Domaćica). Or in other occasions where in the rest of the world one is bringing a bottle of vine. For ideas on what to do with the brick check our blog about coffee.
8. Gavrilović pašteta. It is a meat pate. Since forever (1938.) you can find this product in even the smallest groceries and markets. There are different sized packages so you can try a tiny one that is enough for just one piece of bread. To be honest here, this is pure garbage. It does taste good, but it is produced from leftovers in the worst industrial fashion. Still, once every 110 years I will treat myself with some, usually when my friend Anita is around. She can offer you some with a speed and skill of a cowboy introducing you to his pistol. I can still picture my friends when we were kids coming out of the sea hungry as only a kid can be, dripping sea water on a pašteta sandwich, and eating a tomato (biting it like an apple) as a side dish. There is something about the combination of their tastes and smells- I still smell the tomato when eating pašteta and vice versa.
9. Ledo šlag. Not slug, but Šlag. (Š sounds like SH in “Shush!”) Šlag means whipped cream, but the Croatian Ledo company brough it to the next level. You will find it in the frozen food refrigerators in markets. Mostly it is used as a fancy condiment for your coffee. I use it like an ice-cream or I add it to an apricot juice. And since you are already stopping by frozen food refrigerator, make sure you try Ledo ice-creams. From traditional Snjeguljica (80s again), to new releases like King. Rich, creamy, delicious. Won so many medals everywhere, and usually a much better choice than any ‘Italian’ ice cream that tempts you from colorful windows of sweet shops and patisseries.
10. Bajadera Kraš. The ultimate chocolate/nougat treat! It is like Ferrero Rocher and Nutella made a baby and the baby is just better. It was one of those things we had the opportunity to have just few times a year. Quite pricey. Even the wrapping is in brown and gold to suggest value. Check the date of production. The fresher, the better. If you are more into liquor-filled chocolate, try another Kraš delicacy- Griotte.
Now that I read this it looks more like a ride down my childhood memory lane than a proper list, but that opens a possibility for one of my colleagues to write a better one…