Friday, September 23, 2011

Croatian culinary adventures

I've had a few requests for more food posts. Apparently people are enjoying watching me eat my way through the Balkans. Of course, this is only partially true. The vast majority of the local cuisine, at least what would be considered main courses, are meat-based. And besides the fact that I'm not a big meat eater in general, my style of keeping kosher involves eating vegetarian during my travels. However, it turns out there are still plenty of interesting local foods to sample. It's just that most of them are pastry and/or dessert! See for example the ice cream (which is really superb), burek (described in previous posts), and palačinke (crepes), that are popular throughout the region.

And now, without further ado, let me introduce you to three Croatian pastries (complete with pictures!):

Fritule -- these little balls of fried dough remind me of a cross between doughnut holes and fry bread. They are dipped in sugar and cinnamon. They are traditionally a Christmas time treat in Croatia, but are also sold in little paper cones year round at open air markets.

Štrukli -- a traditional Croatian pastry filled with cottage cheese and baked or fried. My Lonely Planet guidebook describes them as "baked cheese dumplings" and the Bradt guidebook says štrukli "is something of a death by cream, doughy-pasta and cottage-cheese experience. It's somewhere between a giant cream-soaked ravioli and a cheese-stuffed dumpling." Personally, I found it to be akin to cheese blintzes, just served with real cream rather than sour cream.

Štrudla -- it's Strudle! This is one pastry influence in Croatia that clearly migrated from further north along with other Austo-Hungarian influences. You can actually find it throughout the Balkans, but in Croatia it's particularly popular.

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