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Pašman - Island of Olives, Immortelle and Homemade Food

"There was never a famine on Pašman, there were always olives, grapes and the sea. Whoever works there always has something to sell and accept. He who has oil in his stone jar has gold in his chest. " These words were recorded in an ethnographic study of the island of Pašman, which speaks volumes about the fertile soil of this typical Dalmatian island. Nevertheless, the memory of poverty on this island was maintained, hard work to get as much as possible from grain, olives and vines, the fruits of which were sold in Zadar and Biograd. Although the Pašman Channel was important for navigation, the islanders cultivated the land the most, which sets Pašman apart from other Adriatic islands.

We arrived in Pašman in early spring, while the winter cold is felt in the monring, but the sun still provides enough warmth to enjoy the smells and tastes of this green island. With a dozen island settlements, Pašman is both close to the mainland and far from it, enough of its own to feel the generational tradition of fishermen and farmers. It is connected to the island of Ugljan by a bridge near Ždrelac, but it is still significantly different from its neighbour. Forested but rocky, with a series of olive groves, vineyards and arable land on one side and wild slopes full of immortelles and aromatic Mediterranean plants on the other side of the island, Pašman is ideal for long explorations of the gifts of nature.

When it comes to Pašman gastronomy, it is impossible to bypass the Zrinski restaurant in Dobropoljana. This culinary institution of the Bašić family has been a successful catering story since as far back as 1969! There are few restaurants along the Adriatic coast that can boast of this number, and all this is even more fascinating when you realize that everything that is prepared for guests in Zrinski comes from the immediate vicinity of the restaurant, from family gardens and olive groves, as well as Pašman family farms. Read more: Restaurant Zrinski - Pašman Gastronomy's Institution

All this is reflected in the culinary heritage of Pašman. We all know about the rich Mediterranean diet of seafood, which is further enriched with olive oil and wine, but each island is a world unto itself. With an abundance of fresh vegetables and Mediterranean herbs, Pašman gives new flavours to Dalmatia, always striving for the most natural sources of culinary enjoyment. Red earth is a boon to fruits and vegetables, and bushes are natural habitats for wild rabbits and pheasants. All this is beautifully combined into numerous brodettos, stews, grills, baking lids, into all the pots that are determined by the rhythm of the seasons, devotion to the guest and a primordial welcome.

At sunset, the sea turns golden around Pašman, a light wind sways the pomegranate branches on which the dim multi-coloured lights are spread, while the sweet smell of immortelle penetrates a few lucky people who enjoy under the canopy. This is how we imagine the future meeting in the family farm Mađerić in Pašman. Not far from this dream. Ljiljana Mađerić just needs to set up a couple of tables and chairs in her magical garden, because everything else is already there. Nature has made sure that her family always has work to do because Pašman is an island extremely rich in plants and immortelle of our Mediterranean climate! Read more: OPG Mađerić - Tastes and Aromas of Pašman

Despite the gusts of the bora, which are especially strong on Pašman, we enjoyed discovering the taste and smell of this island, and commitment to tradition can already be seen in the Tourist Board of Pašman where director Petra Perinović and expert associate Milivoj Ivuša introduce us to the long history of olive growing on the island. In today's area of the Tourist Board, you can see the technological heritage of Pašman olive growing through the mechanization of past times. Pašman is known for its drobnica, orgula and grabučela, all excellent Adriatic varieties that everyone had in their gardens. The sea, stone blocks and presses were used for production, in order to obtain excellent olive oil, which won more and more awards.

How could it not be, when the island of Pašman is the source of the Croatian island product (HOP), a brand that ensures the quality and originality of the products of the Adriatic islands! We have visited many manufacturers bearing the HOP label, and we have also tried a number of outcomes of their hands and works that will surely bear that name.

The inspiration for Pašman forces his people to make a number of organic products, and when the colourful colours of the island and the interior of the Matulić family farm in Pašman are combined, indescribable pleasures arise. For eight years, they have been offering completely organic and healthy food and cosmetics, with the highest quality ingredients, and for that, they have received a number of international awards. Of course, all this requires special effort, will, and above all love for this beautiful Adriatic island! Read more: OPG Matulić - Inspired by Pašman

It would not be possible otherwise: Pašman is simply a magnet for various natural products, from gastronomy to cosmetics. The island is covered with pine, spruce, holm oak, cypress, wild olive and fig, medicinal and aromatic herbs. What was once done, and then forgotten, today returns through cultivated macchia, stone pastures, olive groves, vineyards and vegetable gardens, and all this flows into a dozen restaurants and taverns that continue the generational tradition!

The breadth of domestic products of the Lanđin family farm is comparable only to the breadth of the smiles of the hosts who welcomed us in their home at the "beginning of Kraj" (which means End in Croatian). This is how the Banić family, who live in the Pašman village of Kraj, just before the sign that separates it from Tkon, determines their position. At the beginning or at the end of Kraj, that is, at the "border crossing", as Rozalinda Banić tells us, a particularly interesting gastronomic story develops, awarded with numerous labels of the Croatian island product (HOP)! Read more: Lanđin - Top Island Products of Pašman

Today, it is easy to get meat, but it is still considered a delicacy on the island. In the past, Pašman families ate meat only for the big holidays. It was usually lamb, with potatoes, boiled or stewed with sauerkraut. The lucky ones who had piglets could count on selling ham that they probably never even tried. Dried bacon was eaten with various stews. The most common on the table was fish. Today, it is valued outside all categories, but for the islanders, fish was the food of the poor, prepared on a skewer, on a grill or on a broth, mostly in winter. Glavoči, groupers, mullets, eels, toothfish and arbuni were mostly for sale, and the only fish the islanders bought was cod for Christmas. What is a bit characteristic of Pašman are the various shells. They were always in abundance, so they were represented on the table almost like fish. This is especially true for Kunjka. Now exceptionally enticing dishes used to be everyday stuff, so it is no wonder that some older islanders remember with disgust the cuttlefish and octopus with broad beans, artichokes and chickpeas, which we enjoyed immeasurably!

The centre of Pašman's feasting is certainly the tavern Mureta, a place of true island flavours. We came to it while a strong bora was blowing outside, and with the fire from the fireplace, it is not difficult to feel at home. The stone walls of the tavern, enriched with a wooden terrace and interior, attract from afar to a real Dalmatian lunch that strongly deviates from the already usual restaurant offer for guests on the Adriatic. And while we listen to what is on offer, we enjoy the excellent brandy made from herbs, a product of the Promina region and the art of the owner Boško Stagličić, who creates a sweet-bitter brandy. Read more: Mureta - Old Tastes of Pašman

All this gastronomic glory of Pašman is closely monitored by centuries-old guardians of island customs and heritage. In addition to grandparents, who already commonly share their life wisdom, they are also Franciscan and Benedictine monks who take care of their own culinary achievements, enriched with secret recipes and Mediterranean spices within their monastery walls. From their bell towers you can harmoniously see a number of islands around Pašman, including Galešnjak, a world-famous island of love so named because nature has blessed it in the shape of a heart. Shells are gathered around them and fish are caught and prepared according to recipes from ancient times, because what is good will never be forgotten. Within the dry stone walls and olive groves, Pašman farmers and fishermen have been faithful to these Mediterranean flavors, at least from the ancient Greeks until today, when the bays and beaches are full of hungry guests.

Guardians of Dobropoljana heritage gather in KUD Bokolje, named after the highest peak of the island of Pašman and in the immediate vicinity of Dobropoljana. KUD Bokolje was founded in 1994 and nurtures the tradition of dance and song of Dobropoljana on the island of Pašman, and participates in spreading the cultural heritage of the place and the wider homeland throughout the country and abroad. The members keep especially a memory of performing in front of Pope John Paul II in the Vatican. We are talking about the work of KUD and the peculiarities of island folklore in Dobropoljana with the president Nevena Dujmović Prižmić and the leader of the children's group Sandra Dujmović. Read more: KUD Bokolje - Guardians of Dobropoljana Heritage

When summer glows on the island of Pašman, and tourists are looking for an interesting evening during their vacation, it is best to head to Dobropoljana for a gastronomic event Dobropoljanski gušti. This is an initiative launched by the Dobropoljana Youth Association (DUM), which is not just a name that young people dream of on the island, because it brings together about 60 younger members who really live in Dobropoljana. We are talking about the work of this association, and especially about culinary achievements, with the current president Augustin Bašić-Guste.

We return from Pašman full of impressions, and you can check where we got them through the Pašman Tourist Board:

Pašman Tourist Board

Pašman bb (p.p. 1), 23262 Pašman, Croatia

+385 (0) 23 260 155

The report on Pašman was made with the help of the Tourist Board of the Municipality of Pašman, and Pašman caterers and producers. Thank you!

Authors of text and photos: Vedran Obućina, Josip Paškov and Cristiano Diaz


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