But, let’s move from Asia to Central Europe, more precisely — Croatia. I would like to share my thoughts about the (non)existence of Croatian street food.
In Croatia, we have all preconditions to deliver wonderful street food. In continental part, we have fields full of vegetables, herbs and we’re serious carnivores. On the seaside (the Adriatic), beautiful and healthy seafood, Mediterranean spices and delicious lamb on islands.
When I arrived in Zadar last summer, I noticed some strange things considering food in particular. There are pizza places all over the town, on every damn corner. Oh, sorry, you could also see the boring corn on the cob on hot spots.
Since I’m a regular buyer and visitor at Zadar fish market, I know there’s a lot of tasty “cheap” fish and shellfish like sardine, mackerel, shrimp or mussel. And that’s basically all that we as tourists need and want when we hit the city. Fast local, traditional dishes — buzara with mussels or shrimps (affordable and simple as hell, dish with just a few local ingredients), brudet (magical Dalmatian fish stew), deep fried sardines, mackerel grilled on gradele rack with some parsley, garlic and olive oil — all with some fresh homemade bread and cheap but decent local wine.
But instead, we’re stuck with pizzas, puffed pastry fast food and pretty expensive restaurants or taverns.
I’ve asked myself a few questions and decided to find answers or at least fail trying. The big four is:
There’s a stereotype that Dalmatians are lazy and all they do is drink bevanda and rest under an olive tree* all day. Well, they have, as I have learned, a custom called — mala noć (little night — rough translation, similar to the siesta). But that doesn’t make them lazy, just more relaxed and laid-back. They like to be self-sustainable, and by that I mean, to have their own restaurants, wineries, and apartments for rent. They (mostly) live all year from income earned in the summer.
Tomislav Ivčić — Maslina je neobrana ( Olive Isn’t Harvested)
Their apartments are built by people from other, less developed parts of Croatia, or Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s similar with restaurants and bars, where most of the employees are seasonal workers and they’re not from Dalmatia. We have something here, but in my humble opinion, nothing to call them lazy. They have just learned how to work less and earn more. And, not to forget — there are many Dalmatians working their socks off.