Vrbovec and the citizens of Vrbovec nurture a rich history of the heritage of nobility, culture, but also of the national, peasant tradition, preserved as an intangible cultural and passed on from generation to generation.
Dialect, stories, costumes, lifestyle, customs, music, and brilliant traditional cuisine are celebrated and will remain preserved for future generations. Citizens of Vrbovec and its surroundings are especially proud of the tourist-culinary manifestation “Kaj su jeli naši stari “.
The most popular gastronomic manifestation was held this year for the 39th time, and visitors enjoyed a variety of local specialties in the charming town of Vrbovec. The high attendance of over 80,000 interested people every year says a lot about the brilliant program and the rich offer of the local specialties.
It all started in 1981 when the first manifestation was held, at the initiative of tourism and hospitality staff and the Municipal Conference on the Social Position of Women. It is also quite interesting to mention it as one of the reasons why women and women’s associations were especially grateful. At that time, housewives acquired their knowledge at the Home School in Lovrečina town, where from 1925 to 1940 the nuns of the Companions of the Sisters of Mercy ran the school. Each year, about ten girls from 15 to 20 years of age from different parts of northwestern Croatia attend this ten-month school.
The home school has left the most significant mark in the villages of Vrbovec, teaching women more difficult ways of preparing traditional dishes. For the first few years, the event was run solely as a competition, and with the increase of visitors over the years, it was enriched with sports, cultural, and entertainment content, and the competition part was left as an entertainment segment of the event. The organizers aimed to prepare dishes following the original recipes they learned from their mothers and grandmothers. At the popular food contest, the food was exhibited, tasted, and judged. The women were dressed in traditional costumes, and the food was served in old dishes. The competition was run in four categories – soup, main course, dessert, and table setting.
For the first 25 years of the event, the program has not changed, and since 2005 prepared food is given for tasting.
The manifestation is full of traditional recipes; however, in the very beginning, one dish stood out especially and regularly presented the first prize in the competition part, namely “Vrbovečka Pera.” A tempting salty pie filled with homemade cheese, cream, and cornflour.
In addition to the fact that associations prepare thematically specific gastronomic delicacies every year, cultural art societies, communities, and other institutions also participate in the event, enriching the complete offer of this event with their participation and cultural contents, and also remind us how much historical heritage the town of Vrbovec inherits.