Croatia is mostly a Christian country when it comes to religion, over 90 % of citizens are Christian, around 86 % being Catholic and around 4 % being Orthodox Christians.
So as you can expect Easter is a big thing here. Leading up to Easter is Good Friday, last Friday before Easter Sunday.
It is special because it is expected for people to feast on Good Friday. Not going into religion any further, we’ll stick with the traditional dishes for this day.
On Good Friday overall winner in the category of the most used word of the day, as well as the most consumed main ingredient during lunch, is definitely Cod,
No, people do not play Call of Duty on Good Friday here, while eating lunch but eat the fish called Cod, and a lot of it.
The story of how Cod came to Croatia (and the Mediterranean) dates back when we were under Venetian rule, to 1431. According to the legend (apparently, it is not a legend) but sure does sound like one. One of merchant Venetian ships sailing all the way from Crete to the North Sea got stranded on Lofoten Islands (now Norway) after a big storm and the locals helped to fix the ship. The captain of the Venetian ship - Pier Querin, while there noticed how the locals dried the fish in a particular way - stockfish. He then proceeded with loading around 60 barrels of the smelly air dried Cod onto his repaired ship and sailed back into the sunset, (which in this case is true as he did have to sail west first to return to Venice). Once there the local authorities first quarantined the ship as the smell was unbearable, but later on, dried Cod became a delicacy in almost every Mediterranean country.
In Croatia it is called Bakalar, and the most common and famous recipe is “Bakalar Bianco” in a way a variation of "Baccalà Mantecato" (creamed cod), the original recipe from Venice. Preparation of this favourite meal is long, as you first have to soak the dried Bakalar in water for a two days and then peel off it’s skin, cook it in salted water, get rid of the water, then shake in a covered pan so it can extract its juices and finally add two essential ingredients, Holy Divinity of Dalmatian cuisine - Olive Oil and Garlic. Then you need to add cooked potatoes and you can eat it with a spoon, while others blend it all together and use it as a creamy spread on the toasted bread. Both variations are really good, and both can keep Vampires away from the consumer for a day or longer as no one is shy on the garlic used.
In the preseason on our private tours of Croatia we try to get our clients to restaurants serving this meal, as it is one of those things which came from far away to become more local than the locals.