Sorting the sheep from the goats

To say that rearing sheep and goats has been an integral part of life on Brač for millennia would not be an overstatement. The earliest Illyrian settlements on the island were small groups of herders' cottages in the rocky hinterland which you can still see today. Today, flocks of sheep are a familiar sight, some estimating the ovine population of the island to be 25 000. On your travels you are sure to come across on an elderly person leading a handful of goats or sheep to pasture. Lamb plays a central role in the cuisine of Brač, the meat being considered particularly tasty and tender due to the salt-encrusted wild herbs that form their diet. The local way of preparing the meat is to roast chunks on skewers over a wood fire (na špicu).

Goats are hardy creatures which can thrive in tough conditions such as the rocky slopes of Adriatic islands. They can digest a much broader range of plants than sheep, and the number of medicinal plants goats graze on coupled with their active lifestyle are thought to be the reasons why goat meat and milk are particularly healthy for humans. Kid goat meat is less fatty than lamb and has a milder flavour, although the meat of male goats older than six months takes on a pungent smell and is usually avoided. Goat's cheese, more pungent than sheep's cheese, is highly prized, although an acquired taste for some.

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