Marenda & Bevanda
If your travels take you to the coast, to the Dalmatian towns and cities, to Split especially. If you end up at some tavern and if you see that at one of the tables sits a group that at the same moment are talking loudly and are chewing a mouthful of delicious food, do not be afraid - they are only eating marenda!
Marenda is not, what it may seem at first, just satisfying a person's need for food. It is a whole lot more, a populations habit, which you need to see through a window. Because, when a group of friends gather together, in the early morning, and sit down at a table with a full plate, it is difficult to discern whether they have gathered for the delicacies, or if they made their way around the delicacies in order to make their conversation more comfortable and friendlier, so that they can return back to their jobs easier, which they fled, for marenda, for a moment. However, the modern age has changed everything, and we fear that marenda will be put to an end.
Marenda to Dalmatians is what five o'clock tea is to the English. The time you spend waiting for marenda you're like a locked and loaded gun, whether you're a first grader who likes to eat, or a mature man. Marenda time could pay tribute to the modern world in which we live. Marenda has always taken place somewhere between ten o'clock in the morning and noon. By ten, let alone by noon, the working class would have starved a hundred times, and when this hunger is combined with Mediterranean casualness, then you can enjoy. You can still eat everything at this meal- from tripe and pašta fažol (Dalmatian beans with pasta), to polpeta u šugu (meatballs and sauce) and manistra usuvo (spaghetti and meat sauce), to boiled meat and fried sardines and even veal shank. Modern times, however, have moved the time of marenda. Today, there are less and less workers, the employed individual eats later and often eats alone, and there are less taverns and more restaurants. Delicacies are, however, the same, and tripe and fažol, and polpete u šugu and minestrone usuvo, and boiled meat and fried sardines, as well as veal shanks. Is marenda threatened to become extinct, when it is not protected as an intangible UNESCO good!?
Darko Baretić, eater and hedonist, overall connoisseur of food and wine, the author of "Plavuše bez kostiju" and a blue fish cook, which is largely eaten at marenda, is still not fearful even if everything is changing. Because, he says, the time to have marenda is important, but the marenda spirit is even more important! Marenda is not only about eating, marenda is about socializing. It's a group that binds a lot more than just food. The group is held together in a wondrous, intimate, and almost conspiratorial way, a group that has a sense of humor, the same joke, and with all that also loves rustic and homemade food. And if that is the case, then Baretić is right when he says that marenda can occur in spite of everything and at any hour, at the crack of dawn, as well as at midnight.
The marenda spirit implies openness, socializing goodness. If you're not a good person, people will not have marenda with you. Only a good person can have marenda - says Baretić.
And that's the truth, and the most important thing you need to know about marenda. Only a good person can and knows how to have marenda. If you are this type do not hesitate when you see in a tavern a group which is enjoying their meal. In fact, they themselves will recognize in you that goodness and openness and good food, and will embrace you as their own. So that there
is tripe and pašta fažol, polpeta u šugu and manistra usuvo, boiled meat and fried sardines, and even veal shank.
And when you've already left for marenda, it is quite possible, if not mandatory, that along with your meal you will drink a bevanda. Yes, maybe some will think that mixing wine and water is blasphemy and a sin, but it is an ancient custom for farmers to dilute wine to quench their thirst. Today individuals know much more about good wine and they try not to dilute it as much. But, after marenda if you want to explore the cities and towns of Dalmatia, in the sun, it is not wise to drink strong Dalmatian wine. Drink bevanda and everything will seem different, better. Since, bevanda is also a part of Dalmatian "five o'clock tea." However, here we simply call it - marenda!