The food in the Adriatic region is truly unique because of the eclectic cultural mix in this area. It’s not easy being at the crossroads of Western, Eastern, Central and Southern Europe! Centuries of history have seen many powers fighting over the territories in this region. All of the different conquering empires and reigns brought their culture, traditions, religions – and food.
It is hard to describe a typical Croatian dish, or a Slovenian dish, for example. The truth is, you will find a variation of that dish throughout not only the whole of the Balkan but also the rest of Eastern Europe. For example take potato dumplings. Most, if not all, countries in the Balkans and Eastern Europe have a variation of them that will include a plum filling. You might have heard of ćevapi – a grilled minced meat dish usually served with lepinja (flatbread). Every country in the Balkan peninsula has its version of it, including Bulgaria and Romania, and even Turkey and Greece. They are called slightly differently in each country but it’s something that the people of this region will always connect over.
The Ottoman Empire left a big influence on the region, and we are perhaps best reminded of this when we serve “Turkish coffee” every morning. Burek (börek), a filled flaky pastry, is also a Turkish influence, and so is baklava.
The influence from Central and Eastern Europe is also very strong, particularly in the continental regions. Goulash, chicken paprikaš, sataraš, pindjur, ajvar, kajmak, and sarma are all considered staple dishes and keep us warm during the winter months.