For 46 years in a row, autumn in Lovran has brought Marunada. This manifestation is of great pride in this seaside town, which in the Middle Ages was known both for its specific church of St. George and for its sailors, fishermen and fruit traders. On the slopes of Učka, which descends steeply across Knezgrad to the Bay of Kvarner, the Lovran Maroons, one of the highest quality in the world, have been cultivated for centuries. It will often be said in Kvarner that they are comparable to the Gorica Maroons from Slovenia and the Gentile de Torino Maroons from Italy, which may not be so relevant, but somehow we always want to compare ourselves to someone else.
Much to the chagrin of many visitors, few Lovran maroon were present at the stands in Lovran at the beginning of the Marunada. These maroons mature somewhat later than chestnuts, which are spread by many chestnuts festivals in Croatia, among which the most prominent ones are those in Hrvatska Kostajnica and Oprtalj. It was created so that Lovran seafarers crossed the native wild chestnuts and those from the Far East, and planted them in settlements high above Lovran: Dobreć, Liganj, Tuliševica, Kožuli and Lovranska Draga. From here you can see a beautiful view of Kvarner, so picking maroons around the Lovran region is a real treat.
Lovran, Liganj and Dobreć have been maintaining Marunada for years, where traditional maroon dishes, roasted maroons and various other chestnut desserts can be found. And one year the British Guardian called this event one of the top ten autumn gastronomic festivals. Marunada is therefore a symbol of Lovran, carefully woven into the way of life of the native people. In addition to gastronomy, various other events, concerts, playrooms, exhibitions are also included. Of course, we were immensely interested in what was on the Lovran table. And perhaps the biggest surprise this year was the Lovranski Pub, which in cooperation with the Municipality of Lovran made Mustaćon - beer made of maroon! In addition, mushroom and maroon soup, chestnuts and a whole range of chestnut desserts are spilled on the menus.
The Lovran maroon is bigger, brighter and sweeter than regular chestnut. Back in the 17th century, they were an export product, along with olives, wine and cherries, which Lovran is also known for. In the 19th century, the Lovran Maroon was sought after in Italy, Austria and Germany, but today it is scarcely known in the wider Rijeka area as the orchards of this chestnut tree are largely neglected. At one time, maroon based gastronomy was far better and more prevalent than it is today. Let's hope that in the next Marunadas you will be able to taste the traditional maroon stuffing that filled ducks and squids, as well as sauces offered with venison. Rarely are found croquettes and gnocchi made of maroon. In the past, maroons were baked and then ground and cooked as a coffee substitute, and they made honey brandy from chestnut honey.
In the end, we recall one beautiful song by Vjekoslav Mayer, who is admittedly a Zagreb man, but who in a few beautiful verses described exactly the feeling that stirs up the autumn chestnut.
Kestenjar kroz okno gleda,
na licu mu čađa, dim se diže, peć crveni:
kao mala lađa usidrila se na trgu
kuća kestenjara, vrećice papirne reda, rumene od žara.
Zamiriše kesten vrući, slutiš zimu lijepu,
a djeca pred kestenjarom čekaju u repu.