If someone asked you to name a couple of things you've enjoyed the most during your stay in Croatia, food would probably be one of the first few items on the list to come to mind. I feel like a broken record writing this, but there's a reason for flavours being among the main memories etched into the tourists' minds once they leave the country.
Croatia has a phenomenal gastronomy scene and a very versatile array of regional cuisines, featuring delicious traditional dishes prepared from ingredients that are locally produced. You'll equally enjoy the innovative menus at some of our most renowned fine dining restaurants, simple hearty meals in village taverns, and traditional regional dishes cooked by locals – mostly darling old nonnas – who could whip up a mouthwatering plate in their sleep.
When it comes to food, sticking to tradition is often a good idea, and it would be a mistake to follow only the fine dining route. Yes, consider yourself officially encouraged to sample all types of gourmet pleasures, but keep in mind you'll make the most precious gastro discoveries by exploring hidden corners of seaside villages, peeking into any small inviting trattoria, and trying out homemade meals indigenous to certain towns and regions. For the first installment in this food series, we present you with a special delicacy: the Vis pie.
Viška pogača is a type of pie emblematic of Vis island. There's no appropriate translation for pogača, and it could best be described as something between pie and bread - the most similar basic dish to compare it with is focaccia. It's composed of two layers of flat bread-like dough and a delicious juicy filling in the middle. The ingredients of the filling vary depending on the place where it's made, and a very peculiar long-running debate arises from different local varieties of the pie.
See, two towns on Vis island, Vis and Komiža, are both stubbornly insisting on their own version of pogača being the best one – the real Vis pie. Called komiška and viška pogača, the versions slightly differ in ingredients; the pie filling in Vis is made with olive oil, chopped onions, anchovies or sardines, olives and spices, while the Komiža variety includes tomatoes as well. If you're in Vis, your pie will be served cut into triangle-shaped pieces, in Komiža you'll get square servings.
I personally am prone to adding tomatoes to everything, especially in summer months when you can get them luscious, ripe, and sweet, straight from the garden; whatever your favourite, though, the fact remains that the Vis pie is a perfect symbol of island cuisine. It's simple, it's humble yet hearty and comforting, and no matter which version you prefer, it's made with iconic Mediterranean ingredients: fish, olive oil, and tomatoes.
Once the pie is taken out of the oven, the scent that fills the room makes it hard to resist to dive straight into the baking tin. If you manage to keep your hands away from the scorching-hot pie, leave it to cool, as the dish remains perfectly tasty and is traditionally often eaten cold.
It's a perfect summer meal, doesn't take a lot of time or effort to prepare, and can be served as the main course or a side dish. If your travels take you to Vis island, where the locals are probably born with the ideal combination of ingredients for the pie written in their genetic code, don't miss your chance to feast on this delicacy.