The Week of Blato's Cuisine
Updated: Feb 19, 2019
Lots of tourists visit the island of Korčula, known as the birthplace of worldwide traveller Marco Polo. They enjoy the pristine beaches and historical towns on the shore, but few also venture to the centre of the island. There, nestled on the crossroads of every important path on the island, sits Blato, a place of 3600 inhabitants with a convenient name meaning “mud” in Croatian. The peaceful Mediterranean place is excellent for the rural vacation. Lots of history, including the gastronomical one, can be seen in the Barilo ethno-house. Blato is also famous for its knight dance with swords, the Kumpanjija.
Unfortunately, this is not a story about our visit to Blato. Well, at least not to the place itself. An old Korčula’s company Blato 1902 has been the gastronomy face of Blato for whole Croatia, selling wine, brandies, olive oil and aromatic products. Offices nationwide have been always accompanied by the taverns of the same name, offering Blato’s original cuisine. It seems the employees couldn’t live without Korčula’s staples, together with more common Adriatic menus. In Rijeka, our base for gastronomy and culinary voyages, Blato has its tavern in the very centre of the city, overlooking the Dead Channel (Mrtvi kanal). We often go there for marenda, the famous brunch of the Adriatic people, which consists mostly of fresh seafood and some meat dishes.
In the beginning of February, however, we went there to learn more about the Blato’s authentic cuisine. A whole week of Blato’s gastronomy was a great chance to savour some less known dishes from this island far on the south of the Croatian Adriatic. These dishes were taken from the recipe book written by Rade Kaštropil under the name “Blatska trpeza” (Blato’s table). It is a jolly book full of characteristic jokes and customs of the past, while the recipes are filling the blank places and make a mix depicting a true lifestyle of the island.
The tavern offered several typical and old Blato’s dishes. For starters, guests could choose between salted fish (consisting of some very curious varities, but dipped in beautiful olive oil), vara, a classic octopus salad. A special treat for all the guests is popara, an ancient Levantine dish brought to Korčula by seafarers in old times. The basis is good fish – mostly scorpion fish (škarpina), conger (ugor), hake (oslić). The fish is cut in pieces and fried with onion on the olive oil. Later pepper, salt, parsley, garlic, white wine, tomato paste and potato is added and cooked until done. Quite simple and simply delicious!
All those in favour of meat should try the Blatska pašticada, a dish so characteristic for Dalmatia and at the same time with numerous varieties, over which many words have been written – and shouted! Every family has its own version, and no pašticada is same as other, but the balance of sweet, sour and bitter flavour is essential. Pašticada is made of beef, garlic, bacon, vinegar, onion, rosemary, bay leaf and pepper, but equally important is to make an excellent sauce, consisting of olive oil, garlic, carrot, parsley, rosemary and bay leaf, prosecco, red wine, dried plumbs and figs and some other spices.
The week of Blato’s cuisine in Rijeka could be filled also with cod stew and some other dishes, but everyone had an opportunity to taste the Blatska lumblija, an authentic Blato’s dessert. It has been prepared for nearly 200 years and the story about its origin began in the Napoleon Bonaparte times.
Therefore, after Napoleon had conquered Dalmatia and annexed the Republic of Ragusa, French army was came on the island of Korčula, since the island itself was a part of the Republic. a young French soldier – baker meets a beautiful young girl from Blato but their love was deemed a failure. When the soldier and his army left the island, he leaves the girl with a kind of a sweet bread saying to the her some beautiful goodbye words, together with the word "n'oublie pas "(don't forget me).The soldier left, the girl stayed in her hometown, but the sweet bread «lumblija» remained as a precious memory - and the way the heart-broken girl understood the pronounced word "n'oublie pas " was «lumblija», and that is how the story remained. Even since, lumblija has been prepared with special ingredients (almond, nuts, orange, lemon, «varenik», etc) and it is no coincidence that is prepared exactly at the beginning of November, when we think of all the beloved persons who are no longer with us. Doing so, the strong connection remains with its original meaning – the memory of our loved ones or the ones we miss the most for a variety of reasons.
This famous cake was presented to us by ladies dressed in Blato’s folk costumes. Luckily, lumblija will stay as part of the menu in Rijeka’s Blato tavern and the next challenge for us would be to try it in Blato itself!
Turistička Zajednica Općine Blato
Trg Dr. Franje Tuđmana 4
tel: +385 (20) 851 850, fax: +385 (20) 851 241