An introduction to the island's gastronomy

Life on an island might be considered limited as far as everyday choices are concerned – especially when it comes to ingredients found on a small, isolated piece of land. However, in the minds of islanders, the sea that surrounds them does not separate one island from another, but rather connects them, gives them life and transfers all of life's necessities from one island to another, regardless of the distance between islands (or continents). The sea need not worry about distance – it is everywhere simply – the sea.

Our ancestors built up a hedonistic tradition over thousands of years with whatever they found on the island and whatever they brought to it. The tradition has been cherished and passed down from one generation to the next. Fruits and vegetables, meat, game, fish and seafood… flavored with aromatic herbs of the Mediterranean, marinated, salted, cured, boiled, grilled or baked on a hearth or under a baking bell, splashed with homemade olive oil and washed down with homemade wine or brandy. The taste of desserts made from honey, almonds, walnuts, raisins, figs and other fruits can hardly be compared to those prepared on the mainland.

The lack of interest in the world and the mindset of the global market is a definite advantage when it comes to the eating habits of islanders. A meal is made from what was just picked, caught or taken from out of the sea. Soon the time will come when the shopping-mall generations will no longer know that there is a closed season for pilchards, that there is a time when the calamari season is in full swing, that in early spring there are no baby broad beans, asparagus or radishes, and they will certainly not know about the season of baby lambs and goat kids. They will not know the taste of grilled fish that was swimming in the sea only moments earlier, or the taste of octopus prepared under a baking bell, the taste of carob, smutica (a foamy drink made by milking a goat directly into a wooden pitcher containing red wine) or true prošek (a dessert wine made from dried wine grapes).

The term "healthy food" on an island is not associated with macrobiotics or vitamin supplements, and even less so with store-bought dried herbs. Healthy means only – natural and fresh, while the main preservatives are salt, the bora (a northern to north-eastern katabatic wind), smoke, homemade olive oil and red wine vinegar.

These pages contain descriptions and recipes of dishes from the island of Hvar. Taste them and take the memory of them with you as you set sail for home. If a man is what he eats, once you taste an island dish you will become – an islander. Welcome and Bon Appétit!