Gorski kotar Fruits of the Mountains is a community registred in Ravna Gora with an aim to promote the regional cultural and eco tourism in Gorski kotar area. The group leads projects „Fruits of the Mountains“ and „From grandma’s box“, manifestations that have become feature events in this hilly region of Croatia.
The Fruits of the Mountains is whole summer-long festival with dedication to the homemade culinary culture and delicacies made from the forest fruits and authentic products. Throughout the years, small mountain places and towns have become recognisable destinations for nature lovers and food enthusiasts, especially those who like to know more about forest berries, homegrown herbs and vegetables, and mountain specialties.
We had a great tour of these specialties, as well as beautiful wooden souvernirs from Ravna Gora, under guidance and help of Mrs Blažica Sveticki. Among these souvenirs alraunas are especially interesting. These are strange, sometimes scary, characters visible in the woods, and local wood craftsmen know to spot them and turn into interesting objects.
In late spring, forests and hills of Gorski kotar suddenly burst in life. Green colour of the trees is mixed with various flowers and natural-grown fruits and roots. Birds are singing, sun is shining, and everything what we dream of the mountains comes alive.
In Gorski kotar this is the announcement for the arrival of sweet fruits in forests. Various berries have always been part of the Gorski kotar nutrition. And when we say „always“, we really mean since people lived here. Food historians know that the berries have been valuable as a food source since before the start of agriculture, and remain among the primary food resources of other primates. Hunter-gatherers were gathering wild berries in Europe for thousands of years. And they knew why! Berries have been shown to be some of the healthiest foods on the planet, extremely rich in antioxidants.
Gorski kotar is famous for its blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries, used often in strudels and other desserts, but also for making of various sweet liquers. In more recent times, cranberries are added to the list. Except of the cranberry juice, which is excellent way to survive summer heat, cranberries found their way to the Gorski kotar table as a basis of sauce added to game dishes. Except of bear steaks with cranberry sauce and gnocchi, stuffed roe loin is also made with cranberries. But if you are vegetarian, don’t worry. Fruits of the Mountains is in fact meat-free event, if you desire it.
Blueberries may well be the symbol of Ravna Gora, together with mushrooms. They are called “barunica” in local dialect, which is also name for baroness in Croatian, and diversion from “borovnica”. Thus, when you drink blueberry liqueur of Mrs Sveticki, you do not drink baroness beverage! It is also a testament to very specific local dialect in Ravna Gora which will make all Croats wonder a bit.
But do not despair, as behind these words lots of flavours, tastes and aromas await you!
Photos by: Dino Džepina