Thursday, 2 September 2021

Štrudlafest 2021: Croatian Strudel Festival Returns

September 2, 2021 - Štrudlafest 2021 lifts the bar of the already known Croatian strudel festival in Jaškovo village near Karlovac. More sport, more workshops, and obviously, more strudel.

With the pandemic dying down just enough for events to be allowed to be held (while still respecting the current epidemiological measures) Štrudlafest in Jaškovo village near Karlovac is back! With the motto: ''It can't get sweeter than this,'' the event spanning September 3-5 is promising a delicious and unique combo of gastronomy, sport, culture, art, and lots of entertainment for all ages.

''Štrudlafest is a true paradise for strudel lovers because apart from the delicious tastes of homemade strudel you can purchase from dozens of stands of hard-working domestic manufacturers - strudel is everywhere around you. You'll have the chance to enjoy a picnic in the shade next to the water source, but also enjoy creative workshops where you can decorate your own strudle plate,'' said the organisation when speaking about this Croatian strudel festival.

Due to the current epidemiological measures in place, many events require prior reservations, but with so many events finally taking place once again, there's no reason to be sad if you miss a few of them.

For instance, there is Art Apetit, a painting workshop, and for those who want to dive deep into the secrets of making the perfect strudel, official ambassadors of this much loved product will be able to consult with you to ensure total satisfaction.

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Marica, a strudle Ambassador © Štrudlafest promo

For the youngest among us, the series of sport, gastronomy, or creative workshop activities will be topped off by a visit from the most famous Croatian fairy tale author, Ivana Brlić Mažuranić.

With a lot of talking done about strudel and sport, the traditional cycling tour ''Štrudla by Bike'' will also take place, and in addition to pedaling your way to the breath-taking scenery of continental Croatia, you can also take a scenic trip along the Dobra river with the first-ever ''Štrudla by Boat''.

The organisers point out that in addition to Jaškovo, strudels can be sampled across Karlovac County with special discounts, and various museums in the region also have special gifts for their visitors to honour this popular treat.

Learn more about Karlovac on our TC page.

For more about food in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 19 August 2021

"Proven Quality - Croatia" Label Soon to be Introduced for Local Food Products

ZAGREB, 19 Aug, 2021 - The agriculture ministry strongly supports fruit growers in efforts to cut production costs and standardise their products and thus boost their competitiveness, which is why the ministry will soon kick off a system of awarding the "Proven Quality - Croatia" label, the ministry said on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Minister Marija Vučković and other officials held a meeting with fruit growers  to inform them of the national system designed by the ministry for awarding the above-mentioned label to food products that meet certain requirements. The national system of evaluation of the quality of food products intends to improve competitiveness of local agricultural produce and food products and intensify their promotion.

This will be conducive to better recognisability of those products in retail chains, according to the ministry.

The ministry notes that the reforms as part of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan envisage the establishment of a logistical infrastructure in fruit and vegetable production and the construction of logistics and distribution centres for fruits and vegetables.

The Croatian Fruit Growing Association assesses that in 2021, the production of apples will reach 65,000 tonnes, the ministry said in a press release, among other things.

The apple export has jumped by 71% year-to-date in comparison to the corresponding period of 2020, while import has increased by 3..2%.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 16 August 2021

Hvar Town Budget Restaurants: Yes, They're Real

August 16, 2021 - Finding himself in a luxury destination with a not so luxurious budget, TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac avoided starvation by locating Hvar Town budget restaurants. Here are his suggestions. 

The words ''cheap price'' are very relative. It's much easier to determine a high price but what qualifies as actually cheap is a much tougher question. In that spirit, Hvar Town, known as one of the more popular and therefore more expensive destinations, lives up to its reputation. Last week, the Croatian media landscape was stunned by the bill issued at one of Hvar's elite clubs. The undoubtebly fun night that featured loads of high-quality beverages such as four 4,800 kuna worth bottles of Don Julio tequila reached the total amount of 99,154 kuna.

A one night spending spree on that level is downright impossible from journalist's income.

So, for the week in Hvar, it was convenient for my paycheck to serve both to feed my stomach after a relaxing day of SCS (swimming, chilling, and sightseeing), and in the meantime, why not inform the public on Hvar Town budget restaurants. Again, ''cheap eats'' may be a hard to define term, but here are some solutions which will nevertheless see you well fed for a little over 200 kuna. Three restaurants after which you don't have to file for bankruptcy, but you'll still have an enjoyable and quite the in-style dining experience. Why only three, you may ask? Well, I can't confirm these are indeed the only three options, but, well, there was sort of a limited budget involved in the research.

1.) Alviž

With a bus not really being the top of the list of options for the high class, it's convenient that one on-budget restaurant is located right at the Hvar Town bus station. From the outside, Alviž looks like some small diner where you might have to bump into other guests crowded into a small place as you munch on wooden tables and chairs. You might feel hesitant to come in, but one look at the menu that promises delicious meals at much more affordable prices makes it worth visiting. Once inside, you realise that the space is actually luxurious as you're taken to the backyard with a real Dalmatian ambiance. Wooden tables underneath brick rooftops and wooden ledges make way for wine, and you are in for a fantastic dining experience. The red and white wine options are fantastically refreshing, but sadly, the beer options are scarce. The food is served quickly and cooked to perfection. You can find a variety of dishes for under 150 kuna, but as the sides are purchased separately and you need to add the drink, you're in for bill of just over 200 kuna usually. Tested and recommended: Fried squid and four types of cheese pizza. Sadly, the fried squid would have gone well the traditional Dalmatian blitva (chard), but one minus to the venue is that you can't order it as a separate side-dish. Still, the squid and fries go together very well.

 

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Fried squid and four types of cheese pizza © Nina Lelas

2.) Villa Dinka

Here's another restaurant with a strong Dalmatian vibe squeezed in between the Amfora and Pharos hotels. This time, there are no wine grapes growing above you, and it looks a bit more formal, but it is nevertheless a cozy place to dine with a stunning view of the Adriatic and the Paklenski islands to trigger your appetite. Again, the sides must be ordered additionally, but along with one drink, the bill doesn't hit higher than a little over 200 kuna. When dining with one more person, meat platas for two are definitely the best bet for meat lovers in Croatia to both get full and to save money. Villa Dinka is no exception to that rule, but they upped their game and topped the usual meat offer of Čevapi, shish kebab and steaks by also adding lamb chops and beefsteak. A delicious upgrade!

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Meat plata from Villa Dinka © Nina Lelas

3.) Đordota Vartal

Not too far from the Franciscan Monastery, Đordota Varta seems to have been crowned as the best on-budget restaurant in all of Hvar Town. The restaurant was completely filled, but people were persistent in waiting in line, hoping to get some food. Once inside, you could see why. Another typical Dalmatian restaurant, with the craftsmanship of Dalmatia being the leading theme as the restaurant is decorated with saws and other tools people on Hvar used in the past. The dishes are accompanied by sides, but you can order more if needed. The tuna steak is absolutely divine, with big portions cooked to perfection, perhaps one of the best-grilled tuna steak's I've had in all of Croatia. For meat lovers, the satisfactorily filled portion of the traditional Dalmatian Pašticada with gnocchi is a must. The beer and wine selection were alright, but not very memorable thanks to the restaurant's short but well-executed cocktail list, with 50-60 kuna per cocktail it obviously isn't the cheaper thrill to get, but these prices are quite standard for coastal Croatia and more accessible than many drinks from other cocktail bars Hvar has to offer. One sip of that delicious pina colada pays up a triple in pleasure.

If you're too hungry to remember to reserve your table and you're also too hungry to wait for the aforementioned goodies, you can also opt for the restaurant's beach terrace. Sadly, over there, you can only order pizza, but the dedication of the staff will nonetheless make sure that pizza, while affordable, is next level compared to your usual experience.

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Delicious Pašticada and tuna steak © Nina Lelas

Learn more about Hvar on our TC page.

For more about traveling Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Cultural Identity of Vukovar: New Book Presented in Vukovar

June 9, 2021 - The fascinating question of the Cultural Identity of Vukovar is researched in a new book edited by Dr. Mateo Žanić and Petar Elez. However, as the editors stressed in the introduction, further research is needed to encompass all social groups in Vukovar and their contribution to the heritage of Vukovar.

After being published back in April this year, the book „Cultural Identity of Vukovar – Contribution to Investigating Heritage and Successors“, was presented this Wednesday in Vukovar. As Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute writes on its website the book was published in cooperation with the Vukovar State Archive, so it was only suitable that the first book presentation was held in Vukovar at the videoconference hall of College Of Applied Sciences „Lavoslav Ružička“ (named after a famous Croatian chemist whose work is awarded a Nobel Prize). In addition, the event marked International Archive Day.

The book was edited by Dr. Mateo Žanić and Petar Elez, and the presentation, alongside editors, saw scientific experts Dr. Dražen Živić, Mirela Hutinec, and Dr. Domagoj Tomas talks about the book.

„Fast events triggered by globalization process and information revolution which paradoxically lead to today's societies being fiercely occupied with the meaning of past, and preserving its valuable traces. In that context, there is a spreading interest for heritage that holds an important component to understand the relationship between the past and present“, says the editorial introduction of the book.

The editors went on to explain how „the city proved to be futile to interpret the meaning of heritage and its contribution to cultural identity,“ and the editors wanted to present various aspects of Vukovar's cultural heritage.

Apart from editors Žanić (who wrote a chapter „Layers of memories and material heritage in modern-day Vukovar) and Elez (author of the chapter „State archive in Vukovar and development of archive service in Vukovar-Srijem County“), the book features eight more authors. Ivan Rogić (Whose Heritage? Who is the successor?), Dražen Živić (on Vukovar's feudalists), Vlasta Novinc („Danube, food, Corso“), Dragana Drašković (on the cultural life of Borovo Selo), and more by Dragan Damjanović, Toni Roca, Ivana Bendra and Ivan Hubalek.

With these broad presentations of culture and heritage in Vukovar, editors hope this book will encourage further research as they are aware this is certainly not the final word on these interesting questions and issues.

„As editors, we are aware that the book does not deal with topics that concern different social groups that left their trace in Vukovar end enrich the history of the city. We hope that future editions that will deal with this topic expand the reach of issues and help us to realize better what do we inherit from the past and why is that important“, concludes the introduction of the book.

So far, the book is available only in Croatian, and research that will, as editors say, deal with other social groups in Vukovar is yet to come. Keeping in mind the terrible aftermaths of the war in Vukovar in the 90s and inter-ethnic tensions, further findings on joint cultural contribution to Vukovar may indeed be the enlightenment needed for peaceful cohabitation and development of Vukovar as a perspective city in Croatia.

Speaking of heritage, learn more about UNESCO recognized heritage in Croatia on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Lošinj Gastro Weekend 2021: Local Culinary Spectacle Throughout May

April 28, 2021 - Starting this weekend, the Lošinj Gastro Weekend 2021 prepares a real treat to the visitors of 14 restaurants on the island.

A beautiful island setting of Lošinj, and delicious food next to the Adriatic - all a regular feature of the annual gastro weekend which starts this week and continues until the end of May.

As Losinj Tourist Board website VisitLosinj.hr announces, fourteen restaurants from Osor all the way to Mali Lošinj will each weekend have a special offer based on a specific product.

Starting with this Friday, April 30 to Sunday, May 2, the restaurants will have lamb specialties in which the local meat will be offered to satisfy your taste buds.

The next is asparagus weekend (May 7-9), followed by fish dishes (May 14-16), Medditaranian herbs dishes (May 21-23), and finally the Antic cuisine (May 28-30).
Artatore, Baracuda, Bocca Vera, Bora bar, Borik Mediterranean Bar, Deveron, Diana Steakhouse, Eki, Lanterna Grill Mare, Silvana, Silver Bay Televrin, and Veli žal are the restaurants.
Turizmoteka.hr also covered the story and warned readers to reserve their place in the restaurants to enjoy this lovely culinary spectacle.

„In these moments, the cooperation between every actor in the destination is extremely important to overcome the negative effect of corona crisis as fast as possible. This festival is an ideal opportunity for visitors to meet Lošinj through local specialties. Come and enjoy!“, said Mali Lošinj mayor Ana Kučić, writes Turizmoteka.

"It is our wish to bring our guests almost all gastronomy pleasures the Island of Vitality is known for“, said Dalibor Cvitković, president of Lošinj Tourist Board, referring to the island's nickname.

Learn more about Croatian islands on our TC page.

For more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Touch of Baranja Photo Exhibition in Zagreb Until End of April

April 21, 2021 - A Touch of Baranja showcases 20 photos of the Baranja region to promote this rich natural and cultural site to both domestic and foreign visitors.

If you want to experience a touch of Baranja, but you're stuck in Zagreb, the city's Flower square (Cvjetni trg) offers you a compromise.  

Dodir baRAnJe (A Touch of Baranja), an outdoor photo exhibition that will remain open until the end of April, highlights 20 photos of beautiful Baranja.

''A picture says a thousand words, so this is how we decided to present the beauty of Baranja and motivate Zagreb's citizens and their guests to visit the region located between the Danube and Drava rivers next to the border with Hungary to have a proper break,'' says the website of the Baranja Tourist Board.

The Tourist Board, along with Tourist Boards of Draž and Bilje-Kopački Rit hosted the event.

Nenad Milić, Dubravko Franjin, Romulić&Stojčić Studio, Mario Đurkić, and Zvonimir Janković are the photographers whose work is being featured in the exhibition. Below every photo, there is a QR code that offers an explanation of the photo both in English and Croatian, and in the evening, the photos are illuminated by solar power collected during the day.

As written by the Explore Croatia site, Baranja is special for its display of multiculturalism of the people who live there and who have previously passed through the territory. Tradition and cultural heritage in the area have survived the challenges of time, and nowhere is that more visible than in Baranja's cuisine.

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© Visit Baranja 

''Baranja continues to remain a special destination which will tell the traveller various stories about tradition, family, life secrets, love, death, wines, hot peppers, specific fishing, weddings…“, explains the Explore Croatia site.

Baranja also offers the richness of nature as it is surrounded by rivers and the Kopački Rit swamp and bird reserve that is home to a wide and impressive variety of animals and plants, representing a real treat for the dedicated traveller.

When in Baranja, make sure to try the delicious Fiš Paprikaš, Baranja's own local Kulen recipe, and carp prepared in a delicious way only Baranja knows how to do.

Learn more about Croatia's food on our TC page

For more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 19 February 2021

People also ask Google: What is Croatia Famous For?

February 19, 2021 – What is Croatia Famous For?

People outside of the country really want to know more about Croatia. They search for answers online.

Here, we'll try to answer the popular search terms “What is Croatia famous for?” and “What is Croatia known for?”

Most of the people looking for answers to these questions have never been to Croatia. They may have been prompted to ask because they're planning to visit Croatia, they want to come to Croatia, or because they heard about Croatia on the news or from a friend.

What Croatia is known for depends on your perspective. People who live in the country sometimes have a very different view of what Croatia is famous for than the rest of the world. And, after visiting Croatia, people very often leave with a very different opinion of what Croatia is known for than before they came. That's because Croatia is a wonderful country, full of surprises and secrets to discover. And, it's because internet searches don't reveal everything. Luckily, you have Total Croatia News to do that for you.

What is Croatia known for?

1) Holidays


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Croatia is best known globally as a tourist destination. Catching sight of pictures of the country online is enough to make almost anyone want to come. If you've heard about it from a friend, seen the country used in a TV show like Game of Thrones or Succession, or watched a travel show, your mind will be made up. Following such prompts, it's common for Croatia to move to first place on your bucket list. If it's not already, it should be, There are lots of reasons why Croatia is best known for holidays (vacations).

a) Islands


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What is Croatia famous for? Islands © Mljet National Park

Within Croatia's tourist offer, its most famous aspect is its islands. Croatia has over a thousand islands - 1246 when you include islets. 48 Croatian islands are inhabited year-round, but many more come to life over the warmer months. Sailing in Croatia is one of the best ways to see the islands, and if you're looking for a place for sailing in the Mediterranean, Croatia is the best choice because of its wealth of islands. These days, existing images of Croatia's islands have been joined by a lot more aerial photography and, when people see these, they instantly fall in love.

b) Beaches


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What is Croatia famous for? Its holidays are famous for their beaches © Szabolcs Emich

Croatia has 5835 kilometres of coastline on the Adriatic Sea - 1,777.3 kilometres of coast on the mainland, and a further 4,058 kilometres of coast around its islands and islets. The Croatian coast is the most indented of the entire Mediterranean. This repeated advance and retreat into the Adriatic forms a landscape littered with exciting, spectacular peninsulas, quiet, hidden bays, and some of the best beaches in the world. There are so many beaches in Croatia, you can find a spot to suit everyone. On the island of Pag and in the Zadar region, you'll find beaches full of young people where the party never stops. Elsewhere, romantic and elegant seafood restaurants hug the shoreline. Beach bars can range from ultra-luxurious to basic and cheap. The beaches themselves can be popular and full of people, facilities, excitement and water sports, or they can be remote, idyllic, and near-deserted, accessible only by boat. Sand, pebble, and stone all line the perfectly crystal-clear seas which are the common feature shared by all.

c) Dubrovnik


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What is Croatia famous for? Dubrovnik © Ivan Ivanković

As a backdrop to Game Of Thrones and movies from franchises like Star Wars and James Bond, Dubrovnik is known all over the world. Everybody wants to see it in person, and that's why it's an essential stop-off for so many huge cruise ships in warmer months. But, Dubrovnik's fame did not begin with the invention of film and television. The city was an autonomous city-state for long periods of time in history, and Dubrovnik was known all over Europe – the famous walls which surround the city of Dubrovnik are a testament to a desire to maintain its independent standing for centuries while living in the shadow of expanding, ambitious empires.

d) Heritage


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What is Croatia famous for? Heritage. Pula amphitheatre is one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world

The walled city of Dubrovnik is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Croatia's rich architectural and ancient heritage. Diocletian's Palace in Split is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and still the living, breathing centre of life in the city (that people still live within it and it is not preserved in aspic is one of its most charming features and no small reason for its excellent preservation).

Having existed on the line of European defence against the Ottoman empire, Croatia also has many incredible fortresses and castles. The fortresses of Sibenik are well worth seeing if you're visiting Sibenik-Knin County and its excellent coast. A small number of Croatia's best castles exist on the coast, Rijeka's Trsat and Nova Kraljevica Castle is nearby Bakar being two of them. Most of Croatia's best and prettiest castles are actually located in its continental regions which, compared to the coast, remain largely undiscovered by most international tourists.

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Many spectacular castles in the country's continental regions are, for these parts, what is Croatia famous for

Pula amphitheatre (sometimes referred to as Pula Arena) is one of the largest and best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world. A spectacular sight year-round, like Diocletian's Palace, it remains a living part of the city's life, famously hosting an international film festival, concerts by orchestras, opera stars, and famous rock and pop musicians. Over recent years, it has also played a part in the city's music festivals.

e) Music Festivals


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What is Croatia famous for? Music festivals © Khris Cowley

There is a very good reason why the city of Pula leapt massively up the list of most-researched online Croatian destinations over the last decade. It played host to two of the country's most famous international music festivals. Though the music at some of these can be quite niche, the global attention they have brought to the country is simply massive. Clever modern branding and marketing by the experienced international operators who host their festivals in Croatia mean that millions of young people all over the world have seen videos, photos and reviews of Croatia music festivals, each of them set within a spectacular backdrop of seaside Croatia.

f) Plitvice Lakes and natural heritage


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What is Croatia Famous For? Plitvice Lakes, national parks and natural heritage

Known for its chain of 16 terraced lakes and gushing waterfalls, Plitvice Lakes is the oldest, biggest and most famous National Park in Croatia. Everybody wants to see it. And many do. But that's not the be-all and end-all of Croatia's stunning natural beauty. Within the country's diverse topography, you'll find 7 further National Parks and 12 Nature Parks which can be mountain terrain, an archipelago of islands, or vibrant wetlands.

2) Football


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What is Croatia famous for? Football. Seen here, Luka Modric at the 2018 World Cup © Светлана Бекетова

The glittering international careers of Croatian footballers Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić, Ivan Perišić, Mario Mandžukić, and others have in recent years advertised Croatia as a factory of top-flight footballing talent. They helped put Croatia football on the map with fans of European football. Football fans in Croatia have a very different perception of just how famous Croatian football is to everyone else in the world. If you talk to a Croatian fan about football, it's almost guaranteed that they will remind you of a time (perhaps before either of you were born) when their local or national team beat your local or national team in football. 99% of people will have no idea what they are talking about. The past occasions which prompt this parochial pride pale into insignificance against the Croatian National Football Team's achievement in reaching the World Cup Final of 2018. This monumental occasion brought the eyes of the world on Croatia, extending way beyond the vision of regular football fans. Subsequently, the internet exploded with people asking “Where is Croatia?”

Sports in general are what is Croatia known for

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Croatians are enthusiastic about sports and engage in a wide number of them. The difference in perception between how Croats view the fame this gets them and the reality within the rest of the world is simply huge. Rowing, basketball, wrestling, mixed martial arts, tennis, handball, boxing, waterpolo, ice hockey, skiing and volleyball are just some of the sports in which Croatia has enthusiastically supported individuals and local and national teams. Some of these are regarded as minority sports even in other countries that also pursue them. Croatians don't understand this part. If you say to a Croatian “What is handball? I never heard of that,” they will look at you like you are crazy or of below-average intelligence.

3) Zagreb


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What is Croatia famous for? Its capital city Zagreb is becoming increasingly better known

Over relatively recent years, the Croatian capital has skyrocketed in terms of fame and visitor numbers. Tens of thousands of people from all over the world now come to visit Zagreb each year. Its massive new success can be partly attributed to the rising popularity of international tourism in some areas of Asia (and Zagreb being used as a setting for some television programmes made in some Asian countries) and the massive success of Zagreb's Advent which, after consecutively attaining the title of Best European Christmas Market three times in a row, has become famous throughout the continent and further still. Zagreb's fame is not however restricted to tourism. Zagreb is known for its incredible Austro-Hungarian architecture, its Upper Town (Gornji Grad) and the buildings there, an array of museums and city centre parks and as home to world-famous education and scientific institutions, like to Ruder Boskovic Institute and the Faculty of Economics, University of Zagreb.

4) Olive oil


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What is Croatia famous for? Olive oil

Croatian olive oil is the best in the world. Don't just take out word for it! Even the experts say so. In 2020, leading guide Flos Olei voted Istria in northwest Croatia as the world's best olive oil growing region for a sixth consecutive year. Olive oil production is an ancient endeavour in Croatia, and over hundreds of years, the trees have matured, and the growers learned everything there is to know. Olive oil is made throughout a much wider area of Croatia than just Istria, and local differences in climate, variety, and soil all impact the flavour of the oils produced. Croatian has no less than five different olive oils protected at a European level under the designation of their place of origin. These and many other Croatian olive oils are distinct and are among the best you're ever likely to try.

5) There was a war here


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What is Croatia famous for? A relatively recent war left its mark on the country © Modzzak

Under rights granted to the republics of the former Yugoslavia and with a strong mandate from the Croatian people, gained across two national referendums, Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Yugoslavia was a multi-ethnic country, with each republic containing a mixture of different ethnicities and indeed many families which themselves were the product of mixed ethnicities. Ethnic tensions and the rise of strong nationalist political voices in each of the former republics and within certain regions of these countries lead to a situation where war became inevitable. The worst of the fighting was suffered within Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina and the part of southern Serbia which is now Kosovo. The Croatian War of Independence (known locally as the Homeland War) lasted from 1991 – 1995. The Yugoslav wars of which it was a major part is regarded as the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War II. In many cases, this war pitted neighbouring houses or neighbouring villages against each other and sometimes members of the same family could be found on opposing sides. The war left huge damage on the country and its infrastructure, some of which is still visible. Worse still, it had a much greater physical and psychological impact on the population. Some people in Croatia today would rather not talk about the war and would prefer to instead talk about the country's present and future. For other people in Croatia, the war remains something of an obsession. If you are curious about the Croatian War of Independence, it is not advisable to bring it up in conversation when you visit the country unless you know the person you are speaking with extremely well. It is a sensitive subject for many and can unnecessarily provoke strong emotions and painful memories. There are many resources online where you can instead read all about the war, there are good documentary series about it on Youtube and there are several museums in Croatia where you can go and learn more, in Vukovar, Karlovac and in Zagreb.

6) Wine


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What is Croatia famous for? Its wine is some of the best you'll ever try © Plenković

Croatia is not really that famous for wine. Well, not as famous as it should be because Croatia makes some of the greatest wine on the planet. Croatian wine is only really famous to those who have tried it after visiting – you'll never forget it! A growing cabal of Croatian wine enthusiasts are trying their best internationally to spread the word about Croatian wine. However, there isn't really that much space in Croatia to make all the wine it needs to supply its homegrown demands and a greatly increased export market. Therefore, export prices of Croatian wine are quite high and even when it does reach foreign shores, these prices ensure its appreciation only by a select few. There's a popular saying locally that goes something like this “We have enough for ourselves and our guests”. Nevertheless, Croatian wine is frequently awarded at the most prestigious international competitions and expos. White wine, red wine, sparkling wine, cuvee (mixed) and rose wine are all made here and Croatia truly excels at making each. You can find different kinds of grape grown and wine produced in the different regions of Croatia. The best way to learn about Croatian wine is to ask someone who really knows about wine or simply come to Croatia to try it. Or, perhaps better still, don't do that and then there will be more for those of us who live here. Cheers!

7) Croatian produce


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Drniš prsut
is protected at a European level, one of 32 products currently protected in this way and therefore what is Croatia famous for © Tourist Board of Drniš

To date, 32 agricultural and food products from Croatia have attained protection at a European level. These range from different prosciuttos, olive oils and Dalmatian bacon, to pastries and pastas, honey, cheese, turkeys, lamb, cabbages, mandarins, salt, sausages, potatoes and something called Meso 'z tiblice (which took a friend from the region where it's made three days to fully research so he could explain it to me at the levels necessary to write an informed article about it – so, you can research that one online). While some prosciutto, bacon, sausages, olive oil and wine do make it out of Croatia, much of these are snaffled up by a discerning few of those-in-the-know. The rest, you will only really be able to try if you visit. And, there are many other items of Croatian produce which are known which you can also try while here

Truffles


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What is Croatia known for? Truffles © Donatella Paukovic

By weight, one of the most expensive delicacies in the world, truffles are a famous part of the cuisine within some regions of Croatia. They feature heavily in the menu of Istria, which is well known as a region in which both white and black truffles are found and then added to food, oils or other products. Truth be told, this isn't a black and white issue - there are a great number of different types of truffle and they can be found over many different regions in Croatia, including around Zagreb and in Zagreb County. But, you'll need to see a man about a dog if you want to find them yourself.

Vegeta


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What is Croatia known for? Vegeta

Having celebrated its 60th birthday in 2019, the cooking condiment Vegeta is exported and known in many other countries, particularly Croatia's close neighbours. It is popularly put into soups and stews to give them more flavour. Among its ingredients are small pieces of dehydrated vegetables like carrot, parsnip, onion, celery, plus spices, salt and herbs like parsley.

Chocolate


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What is Croatia known for? Chocolate is a big export© Alexander Stein

Though making chocolate is only around a century old in Croatia, Croatian chocolate has grown to become one of its leading manufactured food exports. Some of the most popular bars may be a little heavy on sugar and low on cocoa for more discerning tastes. But, lots of others really like it.

Beer


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What is Croatia famous for? Its beer is becoming more famous internationally © The Garden Brewery

The exploding growth of the Croatian craft ale scene over the last 10 years is something that is likely to have passed you by, unless you're a regular visitor to the country, a beer buff or both. Most of the producers are quite small and production not great enough to make a big splash on international markets. However, even within a craft-flooded current market, Croatian beer is becoming more widely known – in one poll, the Zagreb-based Garden Brewery was in 2020 voted Europe's Best Brewery for the second consecutive year

8) Innovation


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What is Croatia famous for? Pioneers, inventors and innovation. Nikola Tesla was born here

From the parachute, fingerprinting, the retractable pen and the tungsten filament electric light-bulb to the torpedo, modern seismology, the World Health Oganisation and the cravat (a necktie, and the precursor to the tie worn by many today), Croatia has gifted many innovations to the world. The list of pioneers - scientists, artists, researchers and inventors - who were born here throughout history is long. And, although innovation is not currently regarded as experiencing a golden period in Croatia, there are still some Croatian innovators whose impact is felt globally, such as electric hypercar maker Mate Rimac.

9) Being poor


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What is Croatia famous for? Being poor. Yikes!

The minimum wage in Croatia is among the lowest in Europe. Croatian language media is constantly filled with stories about corruption. There is a huge state apparatus in which key (if not most) positions are regarded to be politically or personally-motivated appointments. This leads to a lack of opportunity for Croatia's highly educated young people. Many emigrate for better pay and better opportunities. This leads to a brain drain and affects the country's demographics considerably (if it usually the best educated, the ablest and the youngest Croatian adults who emigrate). Many of those who stay are influenced by the stories of widespread corruption and lack of opportunity and are therefore lethargic in their work, leading to a lack of productivity. A considerable part of the Croatian economy is based on tourism which remains largely seasonal.

10) People want to live in Croatia


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What is Croatia famous for? People want to come and live here. No, really.

Yes, despite many younger Croatians leaving or dreaming of leaving and despite the low wages, many people who are not from Croatia dream about living here. Of course, it's an all too familiar scenario that you go on holiday somewhere and while sitting at a seafood restaurant in sight of a glorious sunset, having had a few too many glasses of the local wine, you fall in love with Miguel or however the waiter is called who served it and Miguel's homeland. But, with Croatia, this is actually no passing fancy, no idle holiday dream. People do decide to move here. And not just for the sunset and Miguel (nobody in Croatia is called Miguel - Ed).

Croatia may be known for being poor, but it also has one of the best lifestyles in Europe. That it's cafe terraces are usually full to capacity tells you something about the work to living ratio. Croatians are not just spectators of sport, many enjoy a healthy lifestyle. This informs everything from their pastimes to their diet. There are great facilities for exercise and sport, wonderful nature close by whichever part of the country you're in. You can escape into somewhere wonderful and unknown at a moment's notice. The country is well connected internally by brilliant roads and motorways, reliable intercity buses and an international train network. The tourism industry ensures that multiple airports across Croatia can connect you to almost anywhere you want to go, and major international airports in Belgrade and Budapest, just a couple of hours away, fly to some extremely exotic locations. There are a wealth of fascinating neighbour countries on your doorstep to explore on a day trip or weekend and superfast broadband is being rolled out over the entire country. This is perhaps one of the reasons Croatia has been heralded as one of the world's best options for Digital Nomads. In a few years, when we ask what is Croatia famous far, they could be one of the answers.

What is Croatia famous for, but only after you've visited

Some things you experience when you visit Croatia come as a complete surprise. Most would simply never be aware of them until they visit. They are usually top of the list of things you want to do when you come back to Croatia.

Gastronomy


fritaja_sparoge_1-maja-danica-pecanic_1600x900ntbbbbb.jpgGastronomy is only one of the things what is Croatia known for only after you've visited © Maja Danica Pecanic / Croatian National Tourist Board

Despite a few famous TV chefs having visited and filmed in Croatia over the years, Croatian gastronomy remains largely unknown to almost everyone who's never been to Croatia. That's a shame because you can find some fine food here. Croatia has increased its Michelin-starred and Michelin-recommended restaurants tenfold over recent years. But, perhaps the bigger story is the traditional cuisine which varies greatly within the countries different regions. From the gut-busting barbecue grills and the classic Mediterranean fare of Dalmatia to the pasta, asparagus and truffles of Istria to the sausages and paprika-rich stews of Slavonia and the best smoked and preserved meats of the region, there's an untold amount of secret Croatian gastronomy to discover.

Coffee


restaurant-3815076_1280.jpgWhat is Croatia known for? Well, to locals, it's famous for coffee - not just a drink, it's a ritual

Croatians are passionate about coffee and about going for coffee. It's a beloved ritual here. Going for coffee in Croatia is often about much more than having coffee. It's an integral part of socialising, catching up and sometimes being seen. It doesn't always involve coffee either. Sometimes, you'll be invited for coffee, only to end up ordering beer. It's not about the coffee. Although, the standard of coffee in Croatia, and the places where you drink it, is usually really good.

The misapprehension: What is Croatia known for (if you are a Croatian living in Croatia)

Handball, music

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Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Croatia's Food 2nd Most Expensive in EU by Wage: Health Implications?

January 13, 2021 – Only in Romania are they so poor that they spend more of their income on food than here. In a country famous for its premium produce, what is the price on the health when Croatia's food is so incredibly expensive?

Croatia's food is the second most expensive in Europe when judged next to average household income. Only in Romania do people spend a larger percentage of their monthly wage on food and non-alcoholic drinks. In the EU, the average household spends on food takes up 7% of their earnings. In Croatia, it is almost double that amount – 13%. That the average monthly wage in Croatia is a third lower than the EU average accounts for some of this disparity. Though the other reason is simply that Croatia's food is really, really expensive.

“I couldn't believe it when I saw the prices of food after I got to England,” Split-based nutritionist Iva Tokić tells TCN. Having studied for her Bachelor's degree in nutrition at the University in Split, she transferred to Oxford Brookes University in England where she earned her Master's degree in the subject. “I expected food to be much more expensive, because life, in general, is so much more expensive in the UK than it is here. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the prices of the UK's food are almost exactly the same as Croatia's food, except that in England some things like avocado, salmon (losos) and smoked salmon is so much cheaper than it is in Croatia. Insane!”

IvaTotic.jpgIva Tokić, who has her own independent practice as a nutritionist and works as a nutritional educator and consultant for other polyclinics and sports professionals back in her hometown of Split. She has a Master's degree in nutrition

Food shopping in the UK is a very different experience to that in Croatia. You would struggle to understand fully just how different it is unless you'd actually done both. There simply isn't enough farmland in the UK to feed all of its inhabitants. Most food is imported. Where in Croatia, you can still experience the authentic experience of eating a varied diet based on the seasons, in the UK that simply doesn't exist. Everything is in season somewhere in the world. And that's where they'll take it from. Everything is available. All of the time.

What the UK loses in this set-up - seasonal eating and the varied diet this creates – it makes up for with the offer available and price. Food and flavours from all over the world can be bought in any of the competing supermarkets. International cuisine is incredibly popular. And, just as the supermarkets compete to lower prices, so do producers – it isn't only salmon and avocado that is cheaper in the UK.

The lamb produced in the lush, green hills of Wales or on the moors of northern England and southern Scotland is comparable in extremely high quality to the very best you could buy from Pag or anywhere else in Croatia. Except in the UK, the animals' diets are unrestricted – the lambs grow much bigger. Though much of this premium product is exported (British lamb is a highly prized delicacy across much of western Europe, particularly France), a lot of it is still sold in the UK. Its price is kept down by huge amounts of imported New Zealand lamb which competes against the domestic lamb in price. In Croatia, lamb is an expensive treat – in the UK, it's an everyday meat. And it is much cheaper than it is in Croatia.

abstract-1238657_1920.jpgAlthough the lamb meat produced in the UK is of comparable quality to that produced in Croatia, the meats form a very different part of the diet in the two countries. In Croatia, lamb is an expensive treat. In the UK, lamb is much cheaper and viewed as an everyday meal

Within this one example we can sharply see the disparity between the premium food produced in Croatia and the general diet of the everyday citizen. Croatia is now known well for its cuisine and produce. TCN was pleased to report over recent weeks the success of food and agricultural exports from Croatia. However, the finest prsut, olive oil, seabass (brancin), bream (orada) and red wine for which Croatia is famous do not make up standard everyday Croatian meal. These luxuries are often exported. Pasteta (meat paste) on bread and cheap wine made palatable with cola are more likely to be the elements of Croatia's food found in any student kitchen in the country.

mlinar-pekara-interijer_l.jpgThe pekara (bakery) is a fast, inexpensive and very popular choice for both breakfast and lunch in Croatia, but is it the healthiest thing to eat every day? © Mlinar

“We really don't eat enough fish. It's so disappointing because we live right next to the sea!” says Iva, who now works in her own independent practice, and as a nutritional educator and consultant back in her hometown of Split. “But, we don't eat enough of it because it's way too expensive for a lot of us to eat regularly. We also don't eat enough vegetables and fruit. We eat meat. We eat a lot of meat. We eat a lot of pekara (bakery) too. It's often the cheapest and the most convenient. If you want to save money and grab something fast, get breakfast in pekara. Students and older people in particular, they all eat in pekara. That's not good because that food is high in trans fatty acids and saturated fats. Saturated fats are a problem because it's a big cause of cardiovascular disease. Too much meat and pekara, not enough fish, fruit and vegetables – those are definitely the biggest problems with the Croatian diet.”

seafood-3248701_1920.jpg"Per capita consumption of fish and seafood in Croatia is estimated at 8 kg. Total consumption of fish and fish products per capita is significantly lower than in other Mediterranean countries. Fish is consumed mostly at home, traditionally once a week (on Friday) and during some holidays. The consumption of fish is higher in coastal areas than inland. Most fish is sold at traditional fish markets where the availability and freshness of fish products is considered very good. Only 3% of Croatia’s population eat fish every day, with the average person spending just 840 kuna (110 euros) a year on fish. In Croatia the most popular fish eaten are the cheaper varieties such as sardines and anchovies, followed by hake, mackerel and bonito. Croatia exports a big part of its quality fresh fish from the Adriatic, such as scampi and red mullet, whilst restaurants along the coast will often serve farmed fish or cheaper imported varieties." December 2016 Flanders investment and trade market survey of the Croatian Fishing sector, undertaken by the Trade Office of the Embassy of Belgium

The problems of the diet created by Croatia's food habits have been observed for quite some time. And, according to the 2020 Global Nutrition Report, they are not getting better. Another report, one on childhood obesity published in just 2018 by the Croatian Institute of Public Health, stated that “every third child, i.e. 34.9% is overweight or obese. There are more overweight (21.5%) than obese (17.2%) boys. 67.3% of girls have a normal body mass index, 20.3% are overweight and 10.7% obese.” These figures are not improving, despite physical education being mandatory in Croatian schools.

“Everyone that comes to see me, everyone that seeks the help of a nutritionist, they all have high cholesterol levels, history of heart disease or they are obese,” says Iva. “The last one is becoming more of a problem. One third of children in Croatia are now obese. It's really quite pronounced. If you look at the statistics, obesity has actually been decreasing over recent years in developed countries. But, in Croatia, it is increasing.”

“Here, you can see the difference clearly between the UK and Croatia. In the UK, obesity was recognised as an issue and you can see the response throughout society. In the UK, you have taxes on sugary drinks. We don't have that here. The price of fruit and vegetables in the UK has actually been decreasing in recent years compared to average income. Here, it has only increased. At the supermarket checkout in the UK, it is now forbidden to have those tempting large racks advertising chocolates. From this year, that marketing is banned there, in the same way that advertising tobacco products is banned. Everything from the politics and the law to the school system is engaged in addressing the issue. We are not so much a developed country like the UK, so there is little promotion of physical activity here and no wider engagement of the issue. In the UK you even see signs suggesting “Why not takes the stairs instead of the elevator?” There's an effort to make everyone in society conscious of the issue.”

For a country famous for its international sports stars and the beach bodies that visitors see on the coast every summer, who would have thought that beneath the surface, Croatia's food and exercise habits were creating such a problem for the population? However, while a lack of exercise can be attributed to poor education and motivation, it is clear that economics has a significant impact on Croatia's food intake. In many cases, the poorer you are, the poorer you eat.

Slavoniagarden.jpgWhile eastern Croatia contains some of the country's economically weakest areas, many residents of Slavonia have land beside their houses where they grow vegetables, fruits and nuts. Despite this, they are still over-reliant on pork meat © Croatian National Tourist Board

“In the more rural parts of our country, they eat much more seasonal fruits and vegetables,” says Iva. “They eat more vegetables in general – they grow it themselves and eat what they grow. Although, in many rural areas, there is still an over-reliance on meat. Especially the cheapest meat – pork.”

A 2008 study called Regional Differences in Dietary Habits of Adult Croatian Population conducted by researchers at the Andrija Stampar School of Public Health, School of Medicine, University of Zagreb concluded that the people in the poorest areas of Croatia had the poorest diets. Those regions were central Croatia and eastern Croatia (Slavonia).

Screenshot (114).pngCroatia's food. A map showing the unhealthiest Croatian diets by region, produced for a study undertaken by researchers from the Andrija Stampar School of Public Health, School of Medicine, University of Zagreb. People who live in the poorest regions - central and eastern Croatia - have the least healthy diets. The diet of those who live in Zagreb, which has the country's highest wages, is very good

In these regions of higher unemployment and lower opportunities, people relied more heavily on a diet of red meat, preserved meats and smoked meats than anywhere else in the country. They also used more butter, pork lard and other kinds of animal fat in food preparation and more salt. While tradition and geographical location do play a part in forming these menus, it is incredibly naive to think that economics is not the key factor – there are river fish available all over Slavonia. This is not simply a question of a healthy Mediterranean diet in comparison to an unhealthy continental one – the City of Zagreb was shown in the study to consume an incredibly healthy diet of Croatia's food. The reason? It may be continental, but it has the highest wages in the country.

cevap.jpgThe Croatian diet is heavily reliant on unhealthy pork meat. Unless you go to a specialist or high-quality outlet, you will find cheap pork meat in almost every mixed/minced meat dish - in cevapi, in lasagne, in bakery snacks, in beefburgers and cheeseburgers (yes, really, they put pork their burgers - sometimes you can even find cheap chicken meat mixed into Croatian burgers. True story) and even in the mixed kebab meat. They preserve pork as the highly prized prsut/prosciutto, in sausages like kobasica and kulen, eat the pig's blood in a sausage called krvavica and fry the pig rind to make a crunchy but hardly healthy snack called cvarci. Croatia also has the best bacon in the world.

“Sometimes the most difficult obstacle to good health facing those here who really need to change their diet is the cost of Croatia's food,” agrees Iva. “It's easy to say “you must eat more fish, fruit and vegetables”, but it's not always easy to do. Many people simply can't afford it. So, what I try to do in those cases is to look for the cheapest foods available which are still the right options. For example, sardines here are really not so expensive. They are high in Vitamin D and Omega 3, which is very important for cardiovascular health. I also recommend eggs, which are high in Omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin D. I recommend changing to milk and cheese which have a lower fat content. You can find good food which is not that expensive. You might have to search, but you can find it. I recommend people to go and see what is in the discount section. There are lots of us looking to address these problems. On the Instagram page of different.hr each week they advertise what foods are on discount in every Croatian supermarket. That's a really useful resource. It's also great to grow something of your own. You don't need a huge Slavonian back garden to do it – you can even grow some things just on your balcony.”

Saturday, 19 December 2020

Croatia Agriculture and Food Exports Jump in 2020, Imports Fall

December 19, 2020 – A surprising success story in a difficult year as Croatia agriculture and food exports jump in 2020, while imports of the same have fallen

Good news from any place is welcome in this most difficult of years. According to provisional data from the country's Central Bureau of Statistics, the total value of Croatia agriculture and food exports in the period from January to September 2020 amounted to 1.7 billion Euros, an increase of 5 percent from the same period in 2019. Within the same period, the value of agricultural and food imports into Croatia was 2.5 billion Euros, a decline of 7.3 percent from last year.

The success of Croatia agriculture and food exports in the period means that the country's trade deficit has decreased by huge 26.6 percent compared to the same period last year. With this year's findings taken into account, the trade deficit now stands at 758.8 million Euros.

fieldsromi2.jpg© Romulić & Stojčić

Croatia agriculture and food exports covered 69 percent of total imports this year, an increase of 8.11 percent. A total of 15.86 percent of all exports from the country come from the Croatia agriculture and food exports sector.

The most important item of production within the sector is corn, which accounts for 5.4 percent of all Croatia agriculture and food exports.

From January to September 2020, the most significant products in exports were: cereals (205.4 million Euros – a growth of a huge 62.6 million Euros); various food products (168.1 million Euros – including manufactured/processed foods like sauces, soups, ice cream, sugar products); fish and other seafood (a huge 147.4 million Euros – showing a growth of 14.5 million Euros); cereals, flour, starch or milk products; confectionery products, including chocolate (135.9 million Euros – a growth of 13.8 million Euros), and tobacco-related products (122.6 million Euros). TCN recently took a closer look at the successful and well-established Croatian chocolate industry

Other successes within 2020 Croatia agriculture and food exports were live animals, with an increase of 10.1 million Euros, and the residue and waste of the food industry, which is exported to go into prepared animal foods. The latter saw an increase of 8.6 million Euros.

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So far this year, Italy was one of the most important destinations for Croatia agriculture and food exports. Their total consumption of Croatia agriculture and food exports was 300.8 million Euros, which amounts to 17.76 percent of Croatia's exports in the sector. Croatia agriculture and food exports to Italy increased by 21.9 percent this year, while imports from Italy to Croatia in the same period was 263 million Euros, a decrease of 16.6 percent on 2019. This creates a surplus of 37.6 million Euros.

The most important Croatia agriculture and food exports to Italy are maize, wheat and soybeans, tobacco-related products, sea bass (brancin) and bream (orada).

For the last five years, Croatia agriculture and food exports top consumer has been Germany. For the past seven years, Germany has also been the country from which Croatia has imported the most.

Thursday, 26 November 2020

First Croatian Popcorn Factory Produces Healthy Version of This Snack

November 26, 2020 – The popcorn from the first Croatian popcorn factory is made exclusively from home-grown ingredients, without using additives, and comes in many different flavors.

As Jutarnji list reports, Zagreb got its first popcorn factory a little over a month ago. Behind this great project called PopUp Corn is Marijan Babić, who came up with the idea of opening the first Croatian popcorn factory while preparing another snack during the spring lockdown.

"The idea was to create a snack that people won't be afraid to give to children because they don't know how it's made, but also that adults can enjoy the same snack, just like we all enjoy when we make our popcorn at home," explained Babić, whose popcorn is made exclusively from home-grown ingredients. Also, they are baked in dry air without oil, which is why they retain their freshness and remain crispy, and then they are also seasoned, mixed, and packaged by hand.

They come in several flavors: salty, with butter, cheese, chili, and the Mediterranean. For lovers of sweet snacks, there are variants with caramel and a combination of black and white chocolate.

"We don't use any additives. We have 10 ingredients that we use in the preparation of popcorn and that's it. All the corn comes from the Vukovar area, and butter, dehydrated cheese, chili, sun-dried tomatoes, chocolate, vegetable and olive oil, and everything else also comes from domestic producers. Even the bags are Croatian," said Marijan Babić, adding that his goal is to support domestic producers.

More than a snack

Due to the current rather uncertain situation, Babić initially decided to sell his popcorn only on his website.

Popcorn is currently made from the popcorn type butterfly, the most common and most recognizable to domestic customers, the one from which popcorn is most often baked at home, in an old-fashioned way, on the stove in a pot, covered with a lid.

They recently introduced another type of popcorn called mushroom, which, Babić explained, is more suitable for gourmet popcorn, especially for sweet variants. They are most easily recognized by the shape of a butterfly or mushroom.

"We will soon be launching gourmet popcorn for which we will use the mushroom variety of corn. We finally managed to find it here so we decided to use it to produce special flavors such as popcorn with gin and tonic, cracklings, and truffles. They will be created for die-hard popcorn fans, but also those real gourmets who are looking for something more in the snack," said Babić.

They do not lack new ideas

His small popcorn factory currently employs eight people, and he plans to climb to a high 24. The reason is the philosophy he learned from foreign producers of quality popcorn (which he has enjoyed for years on every trip abroad) which dictates that human hands mean far more than machines. Also, more employees would help him realize his plans – to climb from the initial 30,000 to the desired 120,000 popcorn bags per month.

But that is not the end of his wishes and plans. Namely, he would like to make PopUp popcorn available to a larger number of interested people and one day open a specialized store where customers would bake and spice up their popcorn. But at the moment, Babić says they are focused on production and gift packages that are in great demand.

"We have ideas, and we want to implement it carefully and show the quality of our products in the best way," concluded Marijan Babić.

To read more about Croatia, follow our dedicated page.

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