Winter in Istria is inseparable from the fireplace. Despite modern methods of heating, it is still the most beautiful in Istria with the golden red glow of the fire. While the bora wind blows outside, the fire crackles and sometimes the Istrian sausages too. Around the fireplace, there are regularly objects from everyday life in the past, various memories of grandmas and grandpas that delighted the children and grandchildren, the inheritors of this wealth. You can also regularly find some bukaleta, a porcelain dish on which the owner's name is regularly written, but there are also recipes for Istrian supa. This is the reason of existence for the bukaleta in which this ancient Istrian recipe is made.
In some places, Istrian supa will be made at the request of budding tourists even in the middle of summer. It is a grave sin and few will make such an unconventional step. After all, supa is a winter dish and it requires a fire in the fireplace. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Istrian supa festival is held in January and not in another warmer part of the year. It is already traditional in the Rovinjsko selo for Saint Anthony the Great, the holiday when the carnival begins in most of the northern Adriatic. The owner of Stancija Collis, Juraj Mastilović, proudly told us about this. But what is Istrian soup and how is it made?
Despite the name, supa is not a soup but a wine-based drink. Supa is not an Istrian soup dish, but an old name for a slice of something, in this case bread, soaked in liquid. The supa is made from warmed red wine, usually Teran, with the addition of hot toasted bread, sugar, olive oil and a pinch of pepper. It is heated by the fireplace and the supa must never boil. It is filled in bukaleta from which everyone can drink. Istrian supa is intended for company, it is made for holidays and gatherings in the cold season of the year. With the development of tourism, it should be emphasised that this is a traditional supa because there are more and more innovations, so these creative supas become something else.
For example, it has become problematic that supa is traditionally drunk from one large bowl. Due to hygiene and health reasons, many caterers have introduced small bukaletas for individual use. This ingenious invention solved the aversion to the traditional way of consuming Istrian supa without jeopardising the enjoyment of this winter hit.
There are many stories about how Istrian supa was created. In our travels around Istria, we came across two that are repeated most often. One says that the supa was prepared for the labourers in the field, to refresh them after or during work. Most often, the supa was brought to the field and drunk in kažun, as it is now done at the Teraboto winery in Vodnjan.
The second story is a little older and comes from a time when hunger was not uncommon on the largest Croatian peninsula. Children who had to depend on the most common household products suffered especially. Small children were given a little supa in the evening in order to deceive hunger and fall asleep more easily.
The proportion and quality of ingredients used for Istrian supa is probably the same in all households. Making supa is the pride of Istrians. That is why the Festival of Istrian Supa is welcomed, on the basis of which we can hope for the inclusion of this product in the intangible cultural heritage of our country.