Updated: Oct 12, 2021
The harsh but beautiful landscape of the Lika highlands becomes sharper on cold Lika mornings in December and January. However, as long as there is no snow, sheep can be seen grazing in the meadows and pastures around Perušić. And so it has been for generations and centuries in this area. The Lika pramenka has adapted flawlessly to the climate, and in return this noble animal gives a lot: from abundant wool to shiny meat, which is by far the hallmark of the Lika gastronomic offer.
Lika, with its climate, soil composition and land configuration, was such a special country for all the inhabitants that they could not find a better way to earn a living than husbandry. Livestock tradition is also noticed in the historical construction of the settlement in Lika. Houses and settlements are located on the edges of karst fields, leaving large meadows for grazing, and along with dwellings from Illyrian tribe Iapodi to before the Second World War, stone pens are erected for cattle. Little has changed in all these past centuries in the dress and diet of the people of Lika. During that time, the specific karst soil provided a simple but special mark of the people of Lika, whose centuries-old knowledge revolved around a land rich in stone and wood, where only some resistant animals could survive. Among them is pramenka.
Today, around Perušić, about three hundred sheep from the Obućina family farm from Konjsko Brdo come to graze. Lika pramenka is a breed that originated in the mountainous areas of Lika and Gorski Kotar. Pramenka is a type of sheep used for combined production (ie production of meat, milk and wool). Lika sheep had a rich and plentiful pasture in summer, and a meagre meal in rather harsh winter climatic conditions. In winter, they did not move to the plains like some other mountain sheep, but spent that period of the year without grazing, located next to settlements, mostly fed on hay. Therefore, Lička pramenka belongs to the group of medium-developed sheep, with pronounced resistance and adaptability.
Obućina family knows a lot about that, because they are one of the autochthonous families in Perušić. When the priest Marko Mesić liberated Lika from the Turks, he came across a large number of Turkish families in Perušić, and most of them decided to stay in the already domesticated country. Even today, the people of Perušić are called "Turks", and they are known for a different speech from other people from Lika. In the municipality of beautiful natural and cultural monuments, the tradition of sheep breeding has been maintained, although today few people opt for large-scale production as Joso Obućina and his sons Petar and Ivan did. With the help of tornjak and border collies, about three hundred sheep of the Obućina family can be easily distinguished by their numbers on the Perušić fields, and whenever they are able, they sell Lika lambs at very reasonable prices. There is also the fact that the author of these lines is related to the family, because they are all descendants of the same ancestor.
While we drink excellent plum brandy, which is kept in a wooden barrel, and snack on Lika prosciutto, great sausages and cheese, we hear about the ways of grazing and the advantages of pramenka. The family regularly chases the herd to pasture (they graze for more than eight hours a day). In most of the year, their pasture is a hill (on the edge of which they are located), and in the late autumn, winter (when there is no snow) and early spring months, it is Perušić field. In winter, when it is snowing, sheep feed on hay and cereals that they store themselves during the summer. This closes the primordial circle, which is the same for generations and which brought the whole category of Lika pramenka as symbol of whole of Croatia, and especially of Lika.
Under EU number PGI-HR-02179-13.9.2016 in the official gazette of the EU - the registration procedure has been completed with the publication - all the necessary details are listed, as a summary of the bold file. Dossier processing form is how each product from the protected registry is processed. The category is fresh meat and offal. It is described as "the meat of male and female lambs of the autochthonous Lika Curly sheep" (English: Lika Curly). Lambs must be between 90 and 160 days old, weigh 22 to 36 kilograms, the meat alone accounts for 12 to 18 kg, and the length of the animal is 80 centimetres. The "delicate muscle structure" is accompanied by a specific colour of meat from clear to bright red with yellowish deposits of fat. The smell of mutton is intense, but not predominant, as the new protected product is described.
This protection also says something about the taste of pramenka: when prepared, "the fat gradually melts, and the meat becomes juicy and soft, developing an intense but unobtrusive smell." The aromatic profile of the meat contains volatile ingredients (aldehydes, alcohols, ketones) that come from a specific diet in the meadows where pramenka is grown. Sheep graze during the summer (with an emphasis on the richness of plants, especially aromatic grasses), in winter they are fed with a mixture of locally produced cereals and hay.
Of course, we extremely enjoyed this lamb, prepared in many ways. The culinary customs of Lika are diverse when it comes to lamb. Almost everything is used. Although for most people the very thought of lamb head soup creates nausea, true gourmets know how good this ancient dish is! The liver, kidneys and lungs are excellent ingredients for goulash, and in our subjective belief, far better than chicken and veal offal. Croats will usually prefer roasted lamb or grilled lamb, with Lika potatoes, greens and spices. But boiled lamb, with beans, chickpeas or in a whole range of imaginative maneštra and stews, combines the tradition of consuming lamb with primitive recipes that were mostly used in the wider Balkans, the Middle East and Central Asia.
Therefore, coming to Perušić is inextricably linked to this noble pramenka sheep, and it is easy to get to the property of the Obućina family, which is located near the Zagreb-Split highway:
Tel .: 053 / 679-506
- (+385) 91 582 4569 - Joso Obućina
- (+385) 91 530 0672 - Ivan Obućina