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james_lee Sep 26th, 2011 01:28 PM

Croatia: Istria and Croatian food - two questions
Is the Istria peninsula representative of Croatia in scenery and things to do? I ask this excluding Dubrovnik, which I realize is the type of city not found in Istria. If we pass up most of the rest of Croatia, would we be missing much that cannot be found in Istria?

Second, some seem to be saying that the food in Croatia is pretty much the same everywhere. I'm wondering if in general it is a disappointment, not at all comparable to, for example, the food in Italy.

Any help with either or both of these questions would be greatly appreciated.

zeppole Sep 26th, 2011 01:47 PM

You've asked interesting questions about Istrian food. You might enjoy reading observations from Lidia Bastianich, the famous chef who is originally from Istria, and the other links are from other food lovers:

If you do a google search for "istrian food" or "istrian gastronomy" or "istrian cuisine" you'll get a lot more information.

Your post caught my eye because I live on the other side of italy, but the best baker in town is originally from Istria. He has a big poster of beautiful Istria in his bakery (where I am there too often buying his delicious pastries. Because he is from Istria, he knows how to make many creamy buttery pastries not often found in Italy.

Giuseppa Sep 26th, 2011 02:48 PM

My husband and I have just returned from Croatia. We began our journey through Croatia in Zagreb. Rented a car and drove South toward Istria; staying in Rovinj. Istria is very beautiful and I would highly recommend not missing this beautiful area of Croatia. The scenery is spectacular! The lifestyle of the people is very relaxing and family oriented. The food is amazing and reasonably priced with good sized portions. Rovinj turned out to be our favorite area of Croatia, although Dubrovnik was also amazingly beautiful. I cannot say enough about the beauty of this country.

yorkshire Sep 26th, 2011 02:50 PM

A lot depends on when you are going.
The interior, which would be more reliant on roasted meats, is of course quite different from the coast, where seafood is amazing and there is more Italian influence.
I have not yet been to Istria, but as I understand it, the food is part of the allure, with truffles being a major attraction (esp in fall). I have only visited Italy once and Croatia three times, but the sheer variety of Italian cuisine will not be found in Croatia.
However, you will hardly suffer, as again the seafood is exceptional. I do not eat meat, so I cannot comment on the other offerings, but my husband is quite fond of everything he has eaten in Croatia.
While I cannot think of many places more beautiful than the central and southern coast of Croatia, I don't think there is any reason to not visit Istria. It makes much more sense to focus on one area and see it well rather than try to visit north to south and give both short shrift. Many fodorites have posted extensively about Istria, so I encourage you to search for those reports. I recall reading about the small hill towns and rural areas being more of an attraction than one major tourist town such as Dubrovnik.
If you want to get some of the island flavor, you will be in proximity to the islands of Cres and Krk.

goranapp Sep 8th, 2013 10:14 AM

Croatian cuisine is heterogeneous and is known as a cuisine of the regions since every regions has its own distinct culinary traditions. Its roots date back to ancient times and the differences in the selection of foodstuffs and forms of cooking are most notable between those on the mainland and those in coastal regions. Mainland cuisine is more characterized by the earlier Slavic and the more recent contacts with neighboring cultures - Hungarian, Austrian and Turkish, using lard for cooking, and spices such as black pepper, paprika, and garlic. The coastal region bears the influences of the Greek, Roman and Illyrian, as well as of the later Mediterranean cuisine - Italian (especially Venetian) and French, using olive oil, and herbs and spices such as rosemary, sage, bay leaf, oregano, marjoram, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, lemon and orange rind. Peasant cooking traditions are based on imaginative variations of several basic ingredients (cereals, dairy products, meat, fish, vegetables) and cooking procedures (stewing, grilling, roasting, baking), while bourgeois cuisine involves more complicated procedures and use of selected herbs and spices. Charcuterie is part of Croatian tradition in all regions. Food and recipes from former Yugoslav countries are also popular in Croatia.
Croatian cuisine can be divided into a few regional cuisines (Istria, Dalmatia, Dubrovnik, Lika, Gorski Kotar, Zagorje, Međimurje, Podravina, Slavonija) which all have their specific cooking traditions, characteristic for the area and not necessarily well known in other parts of Croatia. Most dishes, however, can be found all across the country, with local variants. This is also why the varied cuisine of Croatia is called "cuisine of the regions".

kja Sep 8th, 2013 04:31 PM

I would not consider Istria representative of the rest of Croatia, whether one includes Dubrovnik or not. It was heavily influenced by Italian culture (and if I recall correctly, was part of Italy until WWII). In other parts of Croatia one experiences the influences of the Ottoman empire (southern Croatia), Austro-Hungarian empire (northern Croatia), and/or other influences.

Unless you have at least 3 weeks to travel, you will be missing most of Croatia no matter what you choose. And with 3 weeks, you would at best be able to sample various parts of it.

I did not find the food in Croatia to be disappointing and I found a great deal of regional variation.

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