Croatia couldn’t be more proud of its coast and its sea.
Life of numerous Croatian residents has been closely linked to sea for centuries. Given the fact that the length of coast exceeds the length of the land border by almost three times it is more than understanding just how important the sea is to Croatia.
But, this wasn’t always the case.
Turbulent history affected all the segments of life including the fishing tradition that started around 2000 years ago.
The first written evidence of fishing in this area is a grant given to the Benedictine monastery of St. Grisogono in Zadar. In the reign of Croatian rulers fishing flourished in Croatia.
A little bit of history: Croatian Adriatic – great zone of interest
Upcoming rulers did not have an ear for the economically lucrative branch and for a few centuries the fishing was almost extinct in the region. Well maybe not entirely, the Venetians were rubbing their hands as, in a way, they had the whole Adriatic to themselves.
The rich underwater was a point of interest just as much as the coast. Luckily, things changed for the better and more and more islanders were perfecting their fishing skills and learning from the more experienced fishermen in order to continue the started tradition.
People of Rovinj greatly contributed to the fishing industry development in the 18th century also making a solid ground for the towns growing population. Another Istrian city played an important role. The oldest records on the Adriatic tuna fisheries originate from Pula.
Innovative fishing practices invented by Croatian fishermen and fish breeders significantly contributed to the worldwide fishing practices. Inventions like mechanical pulley by Mario Puretic revolutionized the blue fish and tuna fishing in the world.
In recent years, Croatia is recognized as one of the pioneers in aquaculture, particularly in control breeding cages of sea bass and sea bream, and new breeding solutions in the cultivation of juvenile tuna in cages.
Sweet charms of local fishing
As the famous proverb states “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”, almost every small maritime village lives off of the fruits of the sea. Different fishing techniques are taught to the descendants so they could feed their families.
But the thing that gets everyone hooked to fishing, no pun intended, is the atmosphere of fishing and all its charms.
Getting up early in the morning, before dawn, eyes half closed as the sound of the roaring boat awakens you completely. Salty scents of marine nets and the comforting wiggle of the sea streams.
Going fishing is really something. Harry Middleton said “fishing is not an escape from life, but often a deeper immersion into it”. Although it is also often a hard work the atmosphere of small boat fishing simply cannot compare to anything. Getting an opportunity to experience it yourself while staying in Croatia is now available.
Few villages along the coast offer the true touristic experience of fishing with the real local fishermen. You are not just an observer, not at all, you can participate in each step of the process and in the end get your cut of the catch.
Isn’t that amazing?
Irresistible fishing festivities
If you don’t feel that adventurous but still want to enjoy the delicious benefits you can visit any small fishing village during the summer.
These fish festivals are one of the top social events of the season. Usually there’s a local band preforming, there are lines of stands with fresh fish being grilled in front of you. Aroma of freshly chopped parsley and garlic combined with thick green olive oil is the simplest, most delicious way of seasoning the fish.
Complementing wine goes without saying. People often sing and dance deep into the night.
These kinds of festivities contain the very essence of the island life and present the oldest connection between the man and the sea in the most entertaining way.
All of the fisherman have great respect and deep admiration to the sea depths, after all, they are a food source for them and their families for decades. Knowing the fact that Croatians are quite the epicures, fish delicacies prepared in Croatia are endless.
Salted or marinated anchovies, octopus salad, grilled sea bream, tuna steak, stuffed scallops, scampi wrapped in prosciutto the signature dishes are endless.
Each area or village may use slightly different herbs and their own wine and olive oil during the preparation, which makes the uniqueness of taste stand out even more.
Konoba – the ultimate destination
Fishermen wouldn’t be fishermen if they didn’t brag about their catch amongst their friends and fellow locals.
When they catch a really big fish numerous photos must be taken. The photos are than hanged in konobas, authentic domestic space adjusted for socializing or even turned into restaurants.
If you find yourself in a real konoba make sure to ask your host how they caught the fish they are about to serve you. It will be a great honor for them to tell you their sea anecdotes and explain the preparation process.
Along with stunning natural beauty and abundantly rich culture of Croatia, fishing tradition is one of the oldest traditions in this area. Listening the old fisherman tell their stories is always a one of a kind experience. If these tales are completed with a glass of red wine and good company you are in for an unforgettable treat!
Have you ever tried fishing? Would you like to? What is your favorite sea dish and why? Have you ever been to original konoba?
Author: Nikolina Dukic
Photo Credit: (1) Zach Dichner, (2) Hernan Pinera, (3) Tomislav Mavrovic, (4) cooking etc.