The other taste of Croatia
Many travelers would agree that one of the best parts about experiencing a new country is getting to know its culture through the cuisine. Here at Like Croatia, we’ve shared insights into regional dishes, a gastronomic glossary, and some tips for eating vegetarian in Croatia. We also feature a restaurant each week that is sure to introduce you to the best of Croatian cooking.
But there’s another important aspect of food culture: those everyday, ordinary items that everyone grows up with, everyone loves, and everyone keeps on hand. Here are a few grocery store staples that almost every family in Croatia has in its pantry. Before you can say that you have truly experienced Croatia, you must give at least one of these a try.
Every good host keeps a jar full of Cedevita in the house. A tasty powdered drink mix, it’s a quick fix when you don’t have a variety of beverages to offer guests. For some reason, it’s become such an integral part of the hosting ritual that you can almost count on being offered a glass of Cedevita if you happen to visit a local’s home.
Cedevita now comes in a variety of flavors, but the original – and most popular flavor – is orange. It looks a little like the American drink mix Tang, but it tastes a lot better. It also contains nine vitamins to make you feel a little less guilty about drinking powdered sugar. If you want to try it, but you don’t want to buy a whole package, look for a bottle of Cedevita GO.
Domacica cookies and Bajadera by Kras
Kras, perhaps Croatia’s most popular confectionery, is responsible for a number of well-loved sugary snacks, including Domacica cookies, another one of those items that Croatian hosts often keep on hand to serve hungry visitors. Domacica literally means “housewife” in Croatian – a name that was given to the chocolate-coated tea cookies in 1957. Since then, they’ve given drop-in guests something tasty to munch on.
Kras also produces a variety of chocolates and candies. Of these, Bajadera, a super sweet treat composed of layers of rich chocolate and hazelnut-almond nougat, is perhaps the most iconic. Kras shops and most grocery stores carry large and small boxes of Bajadera, perfect for taking home as a last-minute souvenir.
One more cookie deserves mention: Napolitanke. With layers of rich hazelnut sandwiched between crisp and flaky wafers, Napolitanke cookies are Croatia’s interpretation of Manner’s Neopolitan wafers. And they’re everywhere. At home, in the car on road trips, at picnics, on the beach. Several Croatian companies produce Napolitanke, but the most well known is, of course, Kras.
Vegeta by Podravka
Podravka is the company responsible for Vegeta, a seasoning that, again, is indispensable to the Croatian kitchen. Vegeta hit the market in 1959, after professor Zlata Bartl created a winning combination of spices and dried vegetables. It has since become one of Podravka’s most successful products.
Podravka has retained some of its original product packaging over the decades – and it really couldn’t look better. Most grocery stores carry Vegeta sachets in the charming red and white packaging from 1964, as well as simple vintage-style soup mixes. Pick some up for yourself or as a cute little culinary gift for a chef back home if you don’t have time for serious souvenir shopping.
Have you tried any of these Croatian products? What did you think?