If you grow up in New Orleans, I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “making groceries” from someone in your family. For those who live in other parts of the country or the world, the term doesn’t mean a person is going to physically produce some edible product on the spot, but that you are going to the grocery store to buy something to eat.
The phrase comes from “faire le marchè” ( The literal translation is “to make the market”) which New Orleanians took from our Louisiana French heritage and transformed to “making groceries.”
Although we have only been living in Croatia a few short weeks so far, we have already been “making groceries” by going to many different grocery stores and outdoor food markets in order to stock our new Croatian pantry. We’ve been to the Konzum, Plodine, Market Grga (all Croatian grocery chains), Lidl (a German chain), and to the “tržnica” or fresh produce market in the center of Pula. We also been to several small corner groceries for a fresh loaf of bread or a quick snack.
” Na tržnicu, na tržnicu, prodati debelu svinju… ” –To market, to market, to sell a fat pig…
Two things I’ve noticed right away (besides everything being in Croatian which is more confusing than you might imagine!) are that 1) the Croatians eat a lot of pasta and 2) they also love a huge variety of ham and pork. For example, there is literally one whole aisle of pasta in the Konzum and it’s long and it’s full of delicious variations of pasta on both sides. They’ve got your fazoli, pljukanci, fusilli, your vermicelli, your tagliatelle con spinach, and many, many, many more that I can’t pronounce. Oh, and that’s just the dry pasta.
There is also fresh pasta in the refrigerated case. Of course there is. The Fioli brand on the shelf above is a Croatian brand, and the price of 9.99 kunas looks expensive, but is only about $1.45 USD, so it’s very reasonable price-wise for delicious local pasta. So if you like pasta, you will love it here.
For those thinking pasta is an Italian thing, it is. However, besides being very close to Italy (about a 1 1/2 hour car ride), the Istrian peninsula (which includes Pula) was once a part of Italy, so it makes sense that the cuisine would be similar.
The second thing that is very obvious in the grocery stores is the ham (including pršut which we know by the name prosciutto) and other dried and cured meats like salami and sausages. Whole aisles and cases of it with people lined up to the deli counter to buy it.
I got a little intimidated by the girl behind the deli counter when ordering my slices of ham in the Grga (don’t ask me how to pronounce it) and accidentally wound up getting the most delicious smoked ham for our sandwiches. Combined with the slices of freshly sliced gouda cheese and the fresh Croatian bread, Mike and I felt like we were eating gourmet sandwiches for lunch. I’ll do another post on the making of the pršut because it is a very big deal here (They have contests for it like we do for our boiled crawfish and chili), but for now, just know there are multitudes of different salamis, hams, sausages and cured meats, and they are very delicious.
The deli counter below is a popular place for people ordering ham and cheese and sausages, although it was pretty slow mid-morning on a weekday when the photo was taken.
Besides ham and pasta, the grocery stores all have fresh bread counters similar to those we have in the states. The difference, however is there are no breads on the shelves like our Bunny Bread and Nature’s Own brands. The Croatians, like those in many other European countries, eat only fresh baked bread which is prepared daily and has a very short shelf life because of the lack of preservatives.
Since it is so good, it doesn’t need a long shelf life because you eat it so fast! And it is addictive. I remember my Hungarian foreign exchange student Dorka saying how much she missed the bread from home while she was in the US. It’s easy to see why when you get used to eating fresh bread daily. Lucky I am walking so much here as I gobbled up a loaf of the bread below in a couple of days (with Mike’s help, of course).
There are many other things besides fresh breads that I found that were interesting at the grocery stores. The wafers below were available on the baking aisle for filling. Think soft serve ice cream cones and that is the type of wafer available. (Thanks, Marlene, for the suggestion of filling them with Nutella. I will try that soon.) Oh, the possibilities!
I have already found some other favorite products that I really love here that are not available in the U.S., but since this post is getting long, I will start another one for those items. Also, the tžnica or fresh market has a whole different assortment of vegetables and products from the grocery stores. The people seem to use the fresh market just as much as the grocery, so I will dedicate still another post to the magic of those markets another day. Thanks for sharing in my adventures “making groceries” the Croatian way. Vidimo se kasnije! (See you later!)