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Walking along the streets of dalmatian villages or towns sometimes you can stumble across a rustic place where group of locals are talking very loudly so you may think they are debating or arguing. Everything is followed with lots of hand gestures as sometimes our language is too modest with expressions and we need to use them to point out what we are thinking about. They laugh, chat, hug, tell jokes known just to them, even sing. And all this happens around the table full with good food and wine jugs. This event we call marenda and this perfect place is konoba. For us it is our favorite place, the brand of our lifestyle. The same thing like English have their five o’clock tea time, Spanish siesta, Italians trattoria, we want to protect our marenda as part of intangible cultural heritage of Croatia.

Marenda is often translated as brunch although you can’t literally translate this meal as it is much more than just a food and drink. Usually it is eaten between 9.30 – 12hrs, when group of friends meet and socialize, getting to know latest gossips without checking Instagram or Facebook feeds. Which came first? We can’t figure it out was it first konoba or marenda, because they are tied together. Without marenda you wouldn’t have typical konoba and without konoba you wouldn’t have place to eat marenda.

Marenda are the simple dishes served with spoon such as: fish stews, tripes, meatballs in tomato sauce ( polpete u šugu), beans with pasta and dried smoked meat or those which can be eaten by fingers – different kind of cheeses, homemade bread, dalmatian prosciutto, smoked bacon, eggs, salted sardines…..

This tradition started off when hardworking people spent many hours in the vineyards or in the fields during the long farming days. Breakfast was not popular at that time. Women and children ate usually bread with spreads like pork fat or corn with milk. Men started day at 6.30 leaving the house with one shot of rakija (grappa): pure one – loza or flavoured with herbs –travarica, few dried figs or almonds. Rarely they would take some barley coffee made from roasted and smashed barley with some goat milk. This was their energetic smoothie for the start of the day! Later around 9.30 they would have marenda. It was either packed as a lunch box in their small bags made of wool which they would carry with them in the field. There were boiled eggs, pancetta, spring onion, corn bread, salted anchovies and a jug of wine or bevanda. Or they went home to eat something warm: fava beans soup, chard, barley and beans, lentil and chickpeas soups, beets, cabbage. In the summer months after marenda they would take 30 minutes of nap known as fjaka or ˝ubiti oko˝ (rest the eyes for a short time) to fill the batteries for the rest of the working day. Today marenda can be eaten in the afternoon but the most important is that you find some friend to join you as it is ˝forbidden˝ to eat it alone. So find a friend, follow the noise of the locals, feel the heart of the city in konoba, enjoy in marenda and just observe people passing by.

One of the marenda recipes from the book Savour the flavour and sound of Dalmatia by Zlatko Gall

Sardines with vegetables

500 g sardines

2 small zucchini ( courgetes)

2 potatoes

2 onions

1 table spoon of thyme and origano

Sea salt and white pepper

0,5 dcl olive oil

2 table spoon of dalmatian sweet wine prošek

1 dcl white wine ( can be Rukatac or Pošip)

8 cherry tomatoes

1 table spoon of parsley

Clean fish, salt it. Wash vegetables and cut it in tiny slices. On olive oil fry vegetables, stir and leave it for a few minute, salt it and add thyme and origano with 1 dcl luke warm water or fish stock. Continue to simmer until the vegetables get tender, add salted and peppered sardine, pour white wine and prošek. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, until all alcohol evaporates and turns into a thick mixture. Season it at the end with parsley and olive oil.

U slast i u mast!

12 travnja, 2018