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With its plastic fantastic industrialised approach to the eating experience, fast food was bound to develop an enemy.
Originally kick started in Italy during the 1980s, the slow food movement quickly spread across 120 countries, as a stand against the fast food goliath that has taken over the world.
The movement’s attempt was to preserve the culture of traditional, locally sourced ingredients and cuisines, with emphasis placed on the indigenous plants, seeds and animals raised and grown in authentic ways.
While there are countless interpretations of slow food, Croatia has it’s own version that focuses on promoting local fresh and seasonal ingredients. Much of the attention is placed on the ritual of eating together with the presentation of food. Served in small portions and in a certain order, each course has a longish break in-between, complimented by the appropriate gourmet wine. The experience is about the joy of eating, the flavor of fresh ingredients and the appreciation of where the food comes from.
To find a Croatian slow food gastronomic haven, will generally require a touch of walking or a boat ride to a hidden inlet on the Adriatic coastline. But I assure you, that in the moment you take your first bite, your taste buds will be testament to the fact that its was all well worth it.
While others owners were following the model of chain restaurants, Nenad Kukurin was one of the first in Croatia who chose to stick to tradition.
Opening his Kukuriku restaurant in Rijeka over a decade ago, he introduced the slow food concept; and thereafter developed the name ‘gastro-terrorist’.
Kukuriku is now a destination, and a good enough reason on its own to visit the Kvarner Gulf. All bread and pasta is hand-made, the herbs are picked from the restaurants garden, and the ingredients are market fresh. The owner visits Rijeka’s farmers market each day, consults the chef by phone, and together on the spot they create the day’s menu according to what’s available at the stalls.
Whether you savor asparagus from Ucka, truffles from the Motovun forest or lamb from a nearby village, you’re guaranteed pure fresh ingredients without much elaboration. And as Nenad Kukurin would say, ‘the point of a good meal is to walk away feeling light and happy’.
Try out your own Croatia slow food cooking experience
Whether you’re on the coast or inland, every Croatia town has it’s own farmers market packed with fresh ingredients and local produce. The local farmers will be eager to tell you the story of their products, and even slip you a recipe for you to discover the best way to use the ingredients. It’s a friendly affair, so just in case they don’t have recipes prepared all you need to do is ask, and they will be happy to tell you.
If you’re on the coast and have taste for fresh seafood, a great suggestion would be to set your alarm clock for an early wake up call, and head down to the local harbor. There you will find fisherman displaying their morning catch consisting of a variety or white fish, oily fish, shellfish, octopus, shrimp, squid and even live lobster. Be sure to get there before 7:30 because by 8 am half of the fish is already gone. Oh…and if you’re new to cooking fresh fish, don’t forget to kindly ask them to clean the fish for you. Happy cooking!
By: Nikolina Lauc