When it comes to food the people of Dalmatia like to have theirs simple, fresh and grown locally. There are no exotic spices or complex preparations, just natural flavours. And boy, do they taste great. In Split there is no shortage of fantastic ingredients, and there is no better place to get them than the local farmers’ market and fish market, or as Splićani call them, Pazar (Pah-zar) and the Peškarija (Pesh kah ria). Now, in the mind of a foreigner it would be logical to keep these two close, but they are at exactly the opposite ends of the Riva, the main thoroughfare that runs along the quayside. This is mainly due to the fact that the peškarija is close to the former fishing port of Matejuška, while Pazar is near to one of the main roads since most of the veg is grown inland. The good thing is that Pazar is very close to the bus station and the ferry port, so if you can spare a few minutes before leaving for your favourite island you can stock up on veg since it’s at least three times more expensive on the islands. Aside from its practical uses, Pazar is one of those places where the local population and pleasure-seeking tourists tend to mix without prejudice. It’s a gathering place for people from islands like Brač, Hvar and Šolta, for the mountain people of Dalmatinska Zagora and for people from smaller local towns like the seven Kaštelas. All of them bring their produce to the concrete benches in the shade of the eastern wall of Diocletian’s palace. Here you can find everything that grows under the sun, from strawberries, fresh or dried figs, lemons, grapes and pomegranates to wild asparagus, sun-ripened and sweet-smelling tomatoes, plus all kinds of green leafy veg like spinach and chard, aubergines, carrots, courgettes, goats’ and sheep’s cheeses, homemade jams and preserves, liqueurs and brandies, cured meats and fresh poultry. It’s a veritable cornucopia of flavours and colours, garnished with the lively banter of the sales people who are hoping to persuade you to taste their goods and buy their products. Some of these market sellers have been feeding the Splićani for generations. Depending on the time of day you arrive, Pazar can be quite an overwhelming experience, so it’s sometimes wise to buy a cold beer at a nearby kiosk and join the locals in the shade waiting for the prices to go down towards the end of the day. Now you’ve got all of your meat and veg and some wine and brandy, it’s time to pick out a nice piece of fish at the fish market. The peškarija is located smack bang in the middle of Marmontova, the nice marble-paved street at the western end of the Riva. You must have seen it or at least smelled it out. No worries, due to the sulphur wells that brought Diocletian here, the air here keeps the fish hygienic as there are no flies. The fish market opens early, with the morning catch coming in even before 07:00, so set an alarm clock if you want the best pieces to end up on your grill. Dalmatian people do not eat expensive fish like dentex, john dory or the other prize catches. These all go to restaurants or tourists. Locals prefer cheaper, smaller fish like sardines, anchovies, bonito, squid, seabream, mackerel and red mullet. These fish are not only easy on the pocket, they’re tasty and healthy too – the benefits of oily fish like sardine and mackerel are renowned. Feeling a bit nervous about buying fresh fish? Just look for shiny scales, clear eyes and firm flesh. Check the gills too, which should be bright red. Now you bought it, you will have to gut it. Gross? Ask the person behind the counter, if they’re not too busy they might oblige. If not, best stick to the restaurants.
Pazar - A Personal HistorySiniša Pavić grew up in Split and now lives in Zagreb. He shares with us his memories of Pazar, Split's legendary marketplace.
- Everyone has their favourites, everyone knows who has which spot on Pazar, which goods are sold where, and some things have become conventional wisdom, for example that the best greens are from Podstrana, the best soured cabbage is from Glavice near Sinj, and the best citrus fruits are from the islands... You can learn to be an expert in recognising the best produce, organically grown and sold by the person who grew it. If the lady behind the table has dirt under her fingernails that's a good sign, it means that she's been working the land.
- If you want the best prices come later on. 'Cause at the end of the day, they sell everything cheaper just to get home. But they won't give it away for free.
- Once upon a time you had to cross a small bridge to reach Pazar, Split's marketplace. Right alongside Pazar ran a railway track, which they later closed down. Along its route now stand kiosks selling piles of goods, clothing, shoes and a few food items. At one time on this bridge people used to exchange money on the black market (mostly German marks), as well as cigarettes, and jeans – which you couldn't buy anywhere else. In the morning people would gather here eager to work, day labourers, and here alongside Pazar others would buy goods from farmers only to sell them on an hour later.
- Haggling!? To be honest, you've got to have guts and talent for that. But experience shows that here, in true Mediterranean style, the stallholders are suckers for charm. A few kind words and who knows, alongside the head of lettuce you set out to buy you might get one free!
The Pazar of My Childhood
Pazar! The stomach, the belly, the guts of the city! The Pazar of my childhood, even though, my father says, it's changed little over the years. It's still endlessly colourful, full of melodious sound as the ladies behind the tables shout over each other to bring in the buyers. Here are the smells of life, unbeatable scents, of cabbage souring in barrels, smoky dried meat, unwaxed oranges that spray out juice as you run your fingernail over the skin. It's the same, but different, different because when you're small everything's different, and when you grow up everything is more or less sentiment. When you grow up you realise: it was the university of life, of gourmets, of gluttons, of epicureans, of deliciousness.
My father used to set off for work at dawn, my brother was small and my mother was a solicitous mother who tried to squueze everything in despite working morning shifts one day and afternoon shifts the next. It turned out that those inconvenient hours had their bright side. Because she couldn't make it, it would often be me who headed off to Pazar for our groceries. Probably my puppy fat and my evident satisfaction while eating convinced my mother that I could do no wrong. And I wasn't half bad. She would hand me a list, and I'd have the freedom to wander around the tables, weighing up the fruit and vegetables, careful not to fall for the honeyed tones of a mountain accent which reminded me of my grandparents, or the equally mellifluous island dialect. What gave my role even more importance was the fact that my mother would give me just enough money to ensure that if I spent wisely, a couple of dinars (that was the currency in those days) would be left over, so that after two or three trips to Pazar I'd have enough for a comic. Even such a young age it was worth being shrewd, being satisfied with a cheap ice cream from the old-fashioned machines and remembering the important things from the headlines Ante called out when selling the newspapers – the things that were important indeed because they were the reason why people bought newspapers. A small boy could feel awfully big carrying bags of groceries home from Pazar. And awfully proud when the next day his classmates would pinch his sandwich with the hunter's salami, which you could only buy in the kiosk at the bottom end of Pazar. And endlessly flattered when his mother first said to him, «Come on, let's take a walk at the fish market.» The Peškarija, the fish market, a mythical place which you just have to stroll by, you don't have to buy a thing. It's enough to catch the scent and know that you're a part of that sea, that land, that city.
To leave Pazar, to leave for the big wide world was easy at first. When you're a strapping teenager those things don't seem to matter. There are Pazars in other places, you think naively. But there's always some connection, it's alive as long as your mother tells you during an evening phonecall about today's catch, or she tells you how you can now buy soparnik, that miraculous delicacy dreamed up by the poor people of the hinterland, by the slice, but it's not even close to the one my late grandmother baked in her fireplace.
However good those replacement markets might be, however colourful and full of scent, it's now clear that I miss that passion, that uncertainty whether a kuna will be left over for a comic, and I miss those shouts in dialects which my officially-proscribed accent never picked up.
«Why must they shout so?», I remember she asked when she first realised that in Split, on the market, you can't buy less than half a kilo, and nobody with any sense even asks. It's embarrasing, for goodness' sake, and they give you a good ticking off, even if you're the daughter of the President himself. And what seemed to her like rudeness was for me the best poem ever, the best song.
While you sing the praises of their greens they praise your youth and good looks, even if it's clear that you left your youth and good looks somewhere by the kiosk with the hunter's salami. It's the same game wherever you go. Wherever you end up you try to cook sauce so it tastes just the same as that small boy remembers, who knew no greater satisfaction than to arrive home from school, break off a hunk of bread and dip it right into the saucepan before his mother caught him.
- «Dad, has anything changed?» asks the emigré son, himself now a father.
- «Almost nothing», says Dad.
Almost nothing. Tell the youth of today that there are oranges and oranges, those from the supermarkets and those on the tables at Pazar, and how they are nowhere near the same thing and how they can't be, even though their mother tells them there's no difference. To have your own stallholder for eggs, a lady for chard, a butcher who won't cheat you. A lady at the fish market who'll give you a barely discernable nod to show which fish is fresh and which isn't... That's a matter of survival, of growing up, of evolution. Pazar, the fish market, coffee, newspapers. Confound it, that's it. There's no recession, no accounting law, no minister of finance who can take it away. As long as there's the human race there will be Pazar!
Pazar - mrvu zanimljivosti
- Nekad se do Pazara dolazilo preko malog mostića. Tik uz Pazar je, naime, prolazila pruga, vlakić, da bi se kasnije usjek zatvorio. Danas su po njemu kiosci s gomilom robe, odjeće, cipela, mrvu prehrane. Nekad su se na mostiću švercale devize, odnosno marke njemačke, cigare, traperice jer rebatinki valjanih za kupit nije bilo. Tu bi se jutrom skupljali i ljudi željni posla, nadničari, a tu tik uz Pazar nekad se od poljoprivrednika kupovala roba da bi se sat kasnije preprodavala.
- Ako je 'ko voljan proć mrvicu jeftinije, bolje je ganjat kasnije sate. Jer, pred kraj radnog vremena sve će vam prodat za manju cijenu samo da odu doma. No, u bescjenje neće ić.
- Svatko ima svoje favorite, zna se i gdje tko na Pazaru stoji, koja se roba na kojem njegovu dijelu prodaje, ma neka stvari su se uvriježile, recimo to da je dobra verdura iz Podstrane, kiseli kupus iz Glavica kod Sinja, agrumi s otoka... Ma, valja biti majstor za prepoznat pravu, onu eko robu što je prodaje onaj koji ju je i uzgojio. Crno ispod noktiju tete za bankom dobar je znak, znak da je sa zemljom radila.
- Cjenkanje!? Iskreno, za to treba bit i talentiran i hrabar. No, iskustvo govori da se tu, onako tipično mediteranski, pada na šarm. Dvije, tri lijepe riječi i tko zna, možda uz glavicu salate što ste je ionako kanili kupiti dobijete još jednu mukte.
Na Pazaru od mog djetinjstva
Pazar! Trbuh grada, stomak, trbuj! Pazar iz moga djetinjstva, makar se, kaže pape, malošto kroz godine promijenilo. I dalje je beskrajno šareno, i dalje je milozvučna buka dok se gospođe s banaka nadvikuju ne bi li navabile kupce, i dalje su to vonji od života, mirisi od kojih boljih nema bilo da je kupus što se u kacama kiseli, bilo da je su'vo meso, bilo da je ona neprskana naranča iz koje sok pršti samo da je noktom zagrebete malo. Isto, a opet sve je drugačije, drugačije jer kad si dijete sve je drugačije, a kad narasteš sve je, manje više, sentiment. Ma, kad narasteš onda znaš – bila je dobra škola, životna dakako, gurmanska, izjelička, deliciozna, bonkulovićevska.
Pape je zorom išao na posao, brat je bio mali, a mati je bila brižna mati koja je nastojala sve stići makar je jedan dan radila jutarnju, a drugi popodnevnu smjenu. Pokazalo se kako u tom nesretnom radnom vremenu ima i ponešto dobra. Kako ona ne bi stizala, na Pazar bi po spizu išao često ja. Blagi višak kilograma, neskriveno zadovoljstvo dok se nešto slasno papa valjda su majku uvjerili kako sa mnom ne može promašiti. I bome, dobro me išlo. Ona bi dala spisak, a ja bi imao slobodu, pa bi šetao oko banaka, mjerkao voće i povrće, pazio da ne nasjednem na slatkorječivost vlaškog naglaska koji me podsjećao na baku i djeda, ili na jednako slatkorječivo otočko meko slovo ć. Da pak ulog bude čim veći, mati bi dala taman toliko novca da, uz pametnu potrošnju, može ostati koji dinar (tada se u nas valuta zvala dinar op.a.) taman da se u dvije tri šetnje po Pazaru skupi za kakav strip. Valjalo je, dakle, od malena biti znalac, onaj koji će znati odoljeti jeftinom sladoledu iz automata i koji neće zaboraviti bitno dok osluškuje Antu što prodaje novine kako na glas izgovara naslove, one bitne dakako zbog kojih se tisak i kupuje. Jedan je dječačić bio strašno velik dok je kući s Pazara vukao vrećice sa spizom. I strašno ponosan kad bi se sutradan kolege u školi otimale baš za njegov sendvič s onom lovačkom salamom koje nema nego u kiosku na dnu Pazara. I beskrajno počašćene kad mu je mati prvi put rekla: „Ajde, idemo prošetat Peškarijom.“
Peškarija, ribarnica, mitsko mjesto kojim se proć' mora, makar se ne kupilo ništa. Dovoljno je da se arija ovonja, pa da znaš da si dio toga mora, zemlje, grada.
Otić s pazara, otići u bijeli svijet isprva je bilo lako. Kad se zamomčiš ne čini se bitnim. Ima Pazara i drugdje, naivno misli čovjek. A i neka veza je uvijek tu, uvijek živa dok ti stara navečer referira kakva je na ribarnici bila ponuda, ili ti veli kako su evo i soparnik, tu čudesnu deliciju što ju je izmislila sirotinja iz zaleđa, počeli prodavat na fete, ali nije nijedan k'o onaj što ga je pokojna baka na kominu pekla. No, koliko god zamjenske tržnice bile dobre i šarene i mirisne, sad je jasno da fali ona strast i neizvjesnosti hoće li ostat koja kuna za strip, i fali ona vika na dijalektu na koji se moja zakonita nikada nije navikla.
- "Što moraju tako vikati - sjećam se pitala je kad se prvi put suočila s činjenicom da joj u Splitu, na tržnici, nitko neće prodat manje do pola kila, niti će itko pametan manje od pola kila pitat. Sramota je brate, a i izruže te bez pardona, pa sve da si predsjednikova kći. A ono što je njoj nekultura, meni je najdraži stih, najdraže pjesme.
Ma, otišlo se, da bi se vraćalo, a dok se puti ne dogode trenira se naučeno. Jer temelji su tu i neke dobre navike su dane odavna, taman da svako putovanje, svaki slobodan tren, svaki odlazak u kupovinu bude vezan za pazare i tržnice, za peškarije i za tu finu igru što je igraju one koje prodaju i onaj koji kupuju. Pa dok ti njima hvališ zelenilo, oni tebi hvale mladost i lipost makar je svima jasno da je i mladost i lipost ostala tamo negdje kraj kioska s lovačkom salamom. Ta je igra svuda ista. I gdje god se dođe pokušava se skuhat toć da bude taman onakav kakvim ga pamti klinac kojem nije bilo većeg gušta nego doć doma iz škole, uzet pupu od kruha i pomacat ravno iz teće mrvu toća dok ga mater ne ulovi.
-Pape, je li se što promijenilo - pita sin gastarbajter i sam već otac.
- Skoro ništa - kaže pape.
Skoro ništa. Sad samo valja uvjeriti pomladak kako ima naranača i naranača, onih u supermarketu trgovačkih centara i onih na banku pazara, i kako to ni u ludilu nije isto i ne može biti makar joj mati kazivala kako nema tu razlike. Imati svoju kumicu s jajima, tetu s blitvom, mesara koji neće krsta na vagi, ribaricu na ribarnici koja će ti dat jedva primjetan mot glavom što je friško a što ne, to je pitanje opstanka i odrastanja, evolucije. Pazar, peškarija, kava, novine. Svega mu, to je to. I nema te recesije i fiskalne blagajne i tog ministra financija koji će to devastirat! Jer dok je ljudi bit će i Pazara!
Local DishesChock-a-block with all this food and influences from various parts of Dalmatia and Croatia, Split is rich in simple tasty dishes you have never heard of but once you taste them you will never forget. So, how do you go about tasting all this if you don’t have the good fortune of being invited to someone's house where mama will surprise your taste buds? One option is to go exploring among the many konobas (traditional eateries which used to be wine cellars where you could slice some pršut and cheese or eat salted anchovies after a hard day’s work). You’ll find these kinds of restaurants scattered around the old city and the market. Another option is to schedule your visit around the many gastronomic
events happening all summer around Split, most of them based on a certain dish or ingredient. See our guide to food festivals in the Split region. What sort of dishes should you look out for? It depends on the season. Local people tend to stick very much to what’s around at a given time of year rather than relying on greenhouse-grown produce or imports. So, in the spring, look out for dishes made with artichokes or for young broad beans prepared in a million different ways, for example with lamb, with squid ink… Mmm, it makes us hungry just thinking about it. Also watch out for divlje zelje, greens picked in the wild. Summer is a great time for a piece of fresh fish simply grilled and served with chard cooked with potatoes; a black squid ink risotto with a refreshing green salad,
or the classic family meal of deep fried sardines, red mullet or anchovies and a tomato and cucumber salad. In cooler seasons meat comes more to the fore, often cooked with vegetables in a stew-type dish. Look out for aramabašići a speciality originating in Sinj, a little way inland. These are little soured cabbage parcels containing beef (and sometimes pork), cooked in a broth with smoked dried meats. These, or their cousins sarma, are a must at every special occasion, as is a spit-roast lamb. If you keep out a sharp eye you might come across a pogača hailing from the island of Vis or Hvar, a flattish breadcake containing a mixture of salted anchovies and onion, plus tomato, capers and herbs depending on the version. Or from inland, look out for soparnik, a flatbread stuffed with chard and spring onions, scattered with garlic and almonds and drizzled with olive oil. These are specialities you might find on sale at Pazar market. On a sweeter note, look out for compressed cakes of dried figs (smokvenjak), commonly made at home and truly delicious. A speciality from the island of Hvar is forski medenjak, a biscuit made with olive oil and honey, though you’ll probably have to make a pilgrimage to the Nonica patisserie in Hvar town to find it. And if you are in Trogir, look out for rafiole. These are little half-moons made from almonds and maraschino liqueur. Legend has it they were invented by a girl named Rafiola who was imprisoned in the Kamerlengo fortress until her love, a Trogir noble, came to rescue her. She baked him these little cakes ‘til the end of her days as a mark of her gratitude.
Become A Wine ConnoisseurA sommelier’s Jelena recommendations of which wines to tickle your taste buds!
Jako vino, Brač: Stina Pošip Majstor
A white wine with a fuller body, exquisitely fruity in aroma. Very nice, well-balanced and kept in wooden barrels. An extract wine of exceptional elegance and a fine addition in general and in particular with seafood.
Tomić Bastijana, Hvar: Belec, Pošip & Bogdanuša
A white wine in the blend of indigenous variety, very lovable to those with an aroma for flora. Very light thus fit for daily consummation. Mineral, slightly acidic and light in body. A great summer refreshment.
Dingač Skaramuča, top quality wine, medium-bodied, aged in wood, nicely rounded, extremely rich and fruity. Finely acidic and expressively harmonious. A strong and mature wine tendered well with venison or ham.
Winemaker Crvik, Konavle: Dubrovnik’s Malvasia Tezoro
A white wine, dry, mineral, fruity and full-bodied. A fantastic white from the Dubrovnik region and thanks to its rich character, it nicely complements food.
Andro Crvik, winemaker: Pomet Plavac mali selection
A great Plavac and highly recommended. Extremely fruity on the nose, shades of smoke and prunes emphasised. Complex, medium to strong in body, beautifully fresh and soft. Maintains a long lasting finish and has great potential for aging.
Dubrovački podrumi, Gruda: Dubrovački podrumi Plausus
Plausus is a premium wine from Plavac mali, it is of exquisite elegance and fullness. Recognisable by the variety of aromas. Intense in flavour, nicely balanced, strong body and a rich long finish. A wine which demands powerful food. It’s a top quality indigenous wine and the most important red grape sort in Croatia.