In all parts of Kutina, in the orchards and in the house yards, in addition to schools and public buildings, there are visible quinces. Ever since the human mind remembers, quince was part of the Kutina’s walls separating households, along with other fruit trees. Therefore, the tourist initiative was that the quince (dunja) became the symbol of Kutina, using the old name Kotonja in the connection of Kutina-Kotunja-Dunja. The family farms started producing quince jams, and traditionally they made brandy and quince liqueurs in Moslavina. Commitment to this fruit was transformed into the preparation of quince dishes that were presented at Hotel Kutina, together with the County Chef Association and the Sisak-Moslavina Tourist Board. Now over 400 seedlings of quince is visible in the town, an effort attributed also to the well-known ethnographer Slavica Moslavac.
We talked with her at the Moslavina Museum, where she tirelessly prepares books and records of the history and present of Moslavina's folk life. She introduced us to the traditional nutrition of Moslavina which was somehow tied mostly to flour and bread. Meat was found only in traces, but also fish, which is a bit odd since the rich Lonjsko polje is round the corner. But the fish was only available to fishermen from Krapje and other Lonjsko polje villages, and in Kutina fish was eaten only by wealthy ones who bought it as dried or fresh. Carps and perch today make up a gastronomic offer of Lonjsko polje, especially as a fish stew or a baked on wooden sticks.
But the fish offer ceases as soon as one leaves the Lonjsko polje. Next is the area of flour, bread, squash soups, pastries, or anything else based on flour and water. The specialty of Moslavina is the production of numerous breads. Usually it was baked in a baker's oven, which was owned by almost all families, and the bread was large and a fresh one was not baked until the old one was eaten. Bread was kept in special dry chambers on specially made wooden stands (crossbows, križanice). We can imagine the taste of the bread of the last days before baking a new one - usually sewn into water to soften.
Where is the flour, there are mills. The historical landscape of Moslavina is surrounded by mills on the rivers Lonja, Česma, Ilova, Kutinica and various other smaller streams and brooks. In Kutina the most famous was the Hafner mill, named after the family which it owned. There are numerous remains and ruins of mills in Moslavina, which outline the history of milling in this Croatian region. Nevertheless, the locals themselves grafted the grain for their own needs. As in other Slavic peoples and Moslavina folk related their festivals to sowing and harvest, so folk customs were closely related to the field. Once, the field was ploughed with the plug, and the seed was sowed with hand. In spring, around St George and St Mark (April 25), the Moslavina people maintained marvellous processions through the fields, performed the blessing of the field, and the house was decorated with the blessed green grain. Harvesting was carried out with sickle, scythe or machines, where many harvest songs were made, which are still kept by a dozen cultural and artistic societies in Moslavina.
Everyday bread was baked with cornflour, which is becoming popular again today. The bread was also baked with barley and rye flour, and wheat flour was used for the festive bread. The ceremonial breads, or the sacred honeybread, were ritual and sacred breads that were prepared for Easter, Christmas and births, and were decorated with various motifs that can be seen today at the annual Bread Days. Festive bread and wheat bread was brought into homes as the gift of newborns. At the same time, special breads and cakes were prepared for the main Christian holidays as well as numerous festivals.
Outside the holidays, the Moslavina inhabitants had a very simple diet. In the morning, they ate yellow (maize) polenta with sour milk and fat, as well as potato stews and porridges. Sometimes, instead of maize, white potato polenta were used. Many potatoes and flour naturally enriched the table as various dumplings, which were often stuffed with plums. From the ordinary flour they cooked tačkrle dumplings, and if the dough was teared, then the čipanci would be made. Lunch, but also dinner, consisted mostly of beans, cabbage, dumplings, potatoes, cauliflower and green beans.
In addition to kuglof and other sweet doughs, the Moslavs are also known for rich cakes gibanica. They are not as big and plentiful as in the north of the country, but they are made of cheese, poppy, carob. There are also numerous strudels left in heritage.
Moslavina traditions based on life in fields, mills and bread can be found in Slavica Moslavac's book entitled "The Bread Story" in the edition of the Moslavina Museum.
Photos by: Andrea Seifert, Mint Media