In the Slavonian town of Cernik, the exchange of old varieties of fruit and forest fruit trees and seeds of old varieties has traditionally taken place at the beginning of March under the name "Let's save the old varieties". Apples are somehow in the lead among them, and are permanent residents of Croatian orchards. There are more than eight thousand varieties of apples, which means that no matter how many you try in your life, there will surely be more that you haven't tasted. And while you're enjoying delicious bites of fruit, don't forget that, botanically, the apple belongs to the rose family!
People enjoyed apples as early as 6500 BC, and they originate from the area between the Caspian Lake and the Black Sea, i.e., in the Caucasus. Therefore, it is not at all strange that the apple was the fruit in the Garden of Eden that tempted Adam and Eve and deprived them of the grace of paradise on earth. In Greek mythology, a tree covered with golden apples was a symbol of fertility and immortality. When the world was ruled by emperors, kings and emperors, the golden apple was a royal symbol that symbolized power over the entire world. The ruler would hold it in his right hand, close to their heart. Apples were also used to determine whether one should be lucky in love. In Poland, on the night of St. Catherine and Andrew, a special fortune-telling related to apples and love was popular - you had to peel an apple in order to get as long an apple peel as possible. It was then thrown away, and the letter of the alphabet it resembled was supposed to be the first letter of the future spouse's name.
In Latin, the word 'apple' is easily confused with the word 'evil', completely contrary to the nature of this wonderful fruit. Hedgehogs do not carry apples on their backs, as is usually depicted. It is an old myth, and the motif of a hedgehog carrying an apple dates back to ancient times. You can also find it in medieval sources. If the apple had not fallen on Newton's head, he would never have come up with the theory of gravity. Of course, we are talking about a legend. It is possible, however, that the observation of apples falling from trees prompted the scientist to begin his research.
The apple is also known as a source of conflict. Just like the one with the inscription "the most beautiful of all" that the goddess Eris threw at Thetis' wedding in front of Hera, Aphrodite and Athena. The incident went so far that she was sent to Olympus, and Zeus's intervention proved indispensable. The whole struggle over the 'apple of discord' led to the Trojan War.
Considering the long tradition of apples, the dishes prepared with them are endless. They are usually generous cakes and strudels with apples, sprinkled with powdered sugar and with generous whipped cream, as is done in northern Croatia, under the obvious influence of Austrian cuisine. Numerous apple compotes were kept in pantries, and are increasingly found as part of the main course. The apple was once an integral part of medieval and modern feasts with game, and then it became domesticated as a natural ingredient in pork. Today, in some parts of Croatia, odojak is served with apple sauce, balancing the flavours to the peak of enjoyment.
Sour apples are also great for brandy, especially in Gorski kotar and Kordun. Apple in a bottle is not only in the form of brandy, but also mild liqueurs and apple wine. Such fruit wines are characteristic of northern regions, and if you don't drink them in time, they turn into excellent vinegar, which is often used as a better alternative to wine vinegar. Thanks to enthusiasts, old apple varieties are reappearing in Croatian orchards, and discovering and trying them is a real blessing. Therefore, the fair in Cernik is really a big step in the preservation of this precious fruit!