The Story of A Taste of Croatia
I did not realize it at the time, but I began to write this book the day we arrived in Dubrovnik. Bill and I had just crossed the Adriatic Sea from Brindisi, Italy, on our sailboat, Klatawa, and had completed the required formalities when the friendly customs agent began talking about his family, their favorite foods, fishing spots and restaurants. His passion for time-honored recipes, respect for the land and commitment to family and tradition provided me with my first “taste of Croatia.” He had immediately whetted my appetite to learn more.
Nor did I realize that our Mediterranean sailing adventure would eventually lead us to Southern California, where we would become farmers growing Mediterranean-inspired crops: lavender, olives (for oil), a sweet and special tangerine called the “Ojai Pixie” and walnuts. Today, our landscape and our crops provide daily reminders of our Croatian experience … we are constantly challenged to learn new ways to organically nourish our crops, to preserve the land, to conserve our resources and to connect with our customers. Our thoughts and conversations often return to Croatian farmers and their patient care of soil, water and crops.
Nor did I realize that the simple land-based peasant culture would provide us with a model for our changing American food focus - a focus that celebrates ingredients that are locally grown, organic, sustainable and seasonal and demands recipes that are nutritious, economical, straightforward and satisfying. (A reminder to all cooks: flavors in fresh ingredients can vary enormously … sometimes a single clove of garlic can pack a powerful punch while other times two or more cloves may be required to achieve the same results. Tasting is a critical step when cooking with fresh ingredients.)
Throughout our more than three years of exploring and experiencing this beautiful land, I learned that Croatia is a land of good cooks who consistently manage to work culinary magic with limited ingredients and tight budgets and I learned that the tastiest food is made from scratch with ingredients that are seasonal and locally grown … from the field to the fork.
A Taste of Croatia is both a travel memoir and an easy-to-use cookbook. Most of the recipes have been savored by generations of Croatians and all of the recipes have been adapted for use in American kitchens. Throughout the book, I’ve indulged in sharing some of our favorite memories and experiences via a series of short essays and brief anecdotes that grew out of our more than three years of sailing the Adriatic coast. I hope this combination of stories, facts and recipes will provide each reader with their own ‘taste of Croatia.”