Local dishes

Chock-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. 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. 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.

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