Međimurje, the northernmost and one of Croatia’s most economically developed regions, can certainly boast a rich gastronomic tradition with its roots in its rich geographical environment and history.
Despite the modern culinary trends that have not bypassed Croatia, many modernized versions of delicious dishes that you will come across in Croatia have their roots in tradition.
Croatia is recognized mainly for its coastal-Dalmatian, Slavonian, and Zagreb cuisine.
We should also pay attention to the less well-known areas that offer so many great things, especially fine food, and Međimurje certainly stands out.
The people of Međimurje like to say that the Alps begin in Međimurje, so many culinary specialties of the area are associated with the tradition of the Alpine countries. On the eastern side of Međimurrje, you can see the significant influence of Pannonian cuisine, especially in preparing various soups and stews and pasta and spoons.
Wondering what these interesting gastro combinations look and sound like?
Let find out the most famous dishes with the ‘little help’ of Slađana Herman, one of the best chefs of the autochthonous Međimurje cuisine who prepares these specialties with her little finger 🙂
We would instead start with dessert, but since we stick to the Alps, a Germanic proverb will undoubtedly be the best one here; A Sugar is coming at the end!
We started with an area of ”cold appetizer,” and even once, it was icy!!
Presenting The Meat from tiblica
Slađana Herman explained that the famous ‘Meat from tiblica’ is a dish that came from the resourcefulness of people when there were no refrigerators or freezers. The meat had to be preserved, ‘tiblica’ was an ideal way of storing meat. In addition to meat from tiblica, meat was prepared and preserved from melted fat, where the meat was baked in the oven and placed in hot fat.
For a month, pork meat was salted and stored in a marinade with garlic, bay leaf, and peppercorns. After that, the meat is smoked on beech wood smoke. After that, the meat is cooked and after it cools, bake in the oven for an hour. The cooled meat is stored in a large bowl in chopped lard called bacon, obtained by cooking, grinding, and salting lard. The meat prepared in this way from the tiblica can be stored for more than a year.
Soup is an unavoidable part of meals in Croatia, more precisely the main dish of the day, lunch. The soup is ‘a spoon dish’ it brings refreshment. The soup can be clear, creamy, thick, but in Međimurje it is Pretepena.
While Slađana is dancing in front of us, her cooking looks so easy, we wait not only to taste it but for her words of kitchen wisdom:
‘The Pretepena soup was made from foods people used to have at home a long time ago. They had meat from tiblica, sowed buckwheat porridge, and had milk and cream.’
The Pretepena Međimurje soup
The meat from the tiblica is cut into cubes and fried in chopped fat.
Now you add water, ground red pepper, bay leaf, a slice of garlic, and a little buckwheat porridge and cook for 10 minutes. During this time, mix a tablespoon of flour in water, and thus the soup thickens. Finally, whipped sour cream is added to the soup.
The taste is incredible!
The next Međimurje delicacy Slađana prepared is the roast duck with buckwheat porridge and stewed red cabbage
The roast duck from Međimurje
The Chef story goes with the preparation; ‘This dish was created when people fed animals at home and had their own garden. This one was prepared for holidays, weddings, baptisms or some other celebration.’
Slađana continues; ‘The duck is salted and baked in the oven with the addition of onion, garlic, bay leaf. The duck is drizzled with its fat which it releases during roasting. Meanwhile, grate the red cabbage and place it to fry on a pre-fried onion. The greens are sautéed with some water for about an hour. Add salt and pepper. Buckwheat porridge is washed and put to boil in salted water with the addition of a clove of garlic and bay leaf. Before serving, pour over the fat from the roasted duck.’
Trganci or what is this?
Our charming cook knows the answer.
”Međimurje was a poor area, so they mixed what they had; flour and water. People sowed wheat and had their own flour, and they also had cream, bacon, and ubiquitous fat. ‘.’ explains Slađana.
‘Mix the flour with lukewarm water and salt and make a firm dough. The dough is torn into smaller pieces, placed in boiling water, cooked for five minutes, and then drained and washed. It can be served with roasted lard, roasted onions, fried bacon, sour cream.’
And now, the queen will be introduced. The cake of all cakes – the taste of Međimurje dessert!
Međimurska gibanica – Međimurje gibanica
Međimurje gibanica, like other Međimurje dishes, was created from foods that people had at home. Sometimes the landlady was very creative.
It is hard to imagine that creativity today, but it was undoubtedly an extremely talented cook when she came up with Međimurska gibanica.
When it comes to ‘gibanica’, because the verb gibati in Croatian means ‘to move’, Croats call it out of love; Moving cake!
Four fillings need to be prepared; cheese, walnuts, poppy seeds, and apples. The cheese is mixed with sugar, egg, and vanilla. Poppy seeds are mixed with sugar and poured with boiling milk. Walnuts are mixed with sugar, rum and poured with boiling milk. Apples are grated, mixed with sugar and cinnamon. * The prepared drawn dough is cut into 6 equal parts the size of a baking sheet. ‘Grease; (we look at the final steps of our precious chef); ‘the baking sheet with butter, put the crust of the dough, and put the walnut filling.
After that, the dough and poppy seed fill on the walnuts. Now, do the same with apple filling. The latest is the cheese filling. Place the last crust of the dough on the top and pour over the sour cream mixed with the sugar. Međimurska gibanica is baked in the oven for an hour at 180 degrees.
We have nothing to say, except – The big THANK YOU, dear Slađana Herman, for all you cook and for so many tips and tricks you teach us.
Note to me; find out if there is a possibility to make Međimurska Gibanica the next UNESCO protected heritage? If yes, how and where to apply?
Author; Andreja Horvatić, enjoyed every moment of this magic of cooking and taste