Fresh, locally grown ingredients spun into delectable, aromatic dishes tell the story of both the land and the ingenuity of the people. Slow food in Slovenia and Croatia is about digging into that mouthwatering cultural heritage and tradition one bite at a time and tapping into what it means to eat like a local. In that sense, slow food is soul food.
Local Ingredients and Lively Markets
Seasonal, locally grown ingredients are the secret to delicious meals and the bustling markets at the heart of every town are chock full of local producers offering their freshest produce. To that end, sustainability and slow food are intimately connected.
There are too many markets to list but a few of the green stars are Ljubljana’s Central Market (the work of architect Jože Plečnik), the Pazar in Split, Zagreb’s Dolac and Rijeka’s City Market. You’ll find everyone here, from chefs to grandmothers, chatting up a storm while sorting through the assorted goodies – fresh fruit and veg, cheeses, meats, fish, you name it.
With ingredients in tow, what are we eating?
Coastal to Continental: Delicious Dishes to Try
In Croatia, soparnik is a must when in Dalmatia. The amount of flavor packed into a simple, thin pie of Swiss chard and onion is baffling. So impressive that it’s a dish with Protected Geographical Indication. In the capital, Zagreb Schnitzel elevates the humble Austrian Wiener Schnitzel to nap-worthy new heights, filling it with ham and melted cheese.
When traveling eastern Croatia, trying the kulen is all but required, Croatia’s most delicious cured sausage (and its priciest) is also a protected product along with Slovenia’s Kranjska klobasa. Two types of meat that take ages to make but only seconds to devour.
You can’t talk about slow food without mentioning the peka. Whatever goes into the peka – root veggies along with beef or lamb (but octopus really shines too) – comes out more tender than you can imagine with everything cooking and roasting in its own juices.
Eating like a local in Slovenia is just as magnificent, especially with the wild surroundings of the world’s first green destination as your backdrop. Named the European Region of Gastronomy in 2021, you won’t find yourself wanting for great meals here.
Starting in the east, in the gentle mountains of Pohorje, the intoxicating scents of local veal, bacon, pork and mushrooms fill the air as the hearty Pohorje Pot comes together. An elixir for long days on the slopes in winter or hikes in the summer.
In the pleasant hills of Pomurje, you’ll find a full menu of delicacies to dig into. Fill up on bograč, a traditional three meat stew that’s so tasty and revered that it has its own festival and follow it with a classic regional dessert, gibanica, a delectable layered cake.
In Idrija, try the first Slovenian dish to gain protected status by the EU, Idrijski Žlikrofi, a hat-shaped dumpling loaded with aromatic herbs, potatoes and smoked bacon. Perfect on their own or accompanying a nice cut of meat.
Come Hungry, Eat Slowly, Leave Happy
We can go on listing dishes forever but by this point, you must be drooling. Rather than read about them, here’s your invitation to come on over and slowly make your way through the traditional cuisine, region by region, market by market and dish by dish.