Walking through a farmers’ market in any town on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast is an exercise in surprise. Every few days there’s something new to tempt one’s taste buds. Blink, and you’ll miss cherry season. Take an extended break from grocery shopping and you’ll have missed out on luscious figs the size of limes or rich, aromatic truffle cheeses.
As in Canada, the farmers’ markets of Croatia are community hubs, and customers range from tourists looking for souvenirs to professional chefs stocking up on their day’s supplies. One reason, says Croatian-born Ivana Orešić, a chef and author of the cookbook My Dalmatia: Tastes, Savours, Colors, is that the prices of many items, from eggs to cheese, are markedly different from those found at a traditional grocery store. “For Croatians, everything is expensive,” says Orešić. Plus, at a market one can get specific quantities, minimizing the waste of both food and money. Another reason, says Orešić, is that most of the locals eat at home. “People here think that they’re the best cooks. I know my parents would always say, ‘At home is better. You never know what is happening in the background, or what they have in the kitchen. At home is the best.’”