Croatian cuisine is heterogeneous, and is therefore known as "the cuisine of regions". Its modern roots date back to Proto-Slavic and ancient periods and the differences in the selection of foodstuffs and forms of cooking are most notable between those on the mainland and those in coastal regions. Mainland cuisine is more characterized by the earlier Proto-Slavic and the more recent contacts with the more famous gastronomic orders of today - Hungarian, Viennese and Turkish - while the coastal region bears the influences of the Greek, Roman and Illyrian, as well as of the later Mediterranean cuisine - Italian and French.
Food and traditional festivities
Many Croatian traditional festivities are distinctly linked with food independently of whether they are related to strenuous labour (crop harvesting or threshing, the grape harvest and Christening of wine, the completion of a house), religion (mostly Catholic - Christmas, Easter, pilgrimages, local saints days), or to memorable moments in an individual's life (baptism, wedding, birthday, name-day, funeral wakes, etc.) Some festivities are typically of a public character, such as the Dionysian St. Martin s Day, celebrated in private farmhouses, wine cellars and restaurants; others are almost exclusively family reunions (weddings, baptism, Christmas Day, New Year's Day, Easter, etc.)
Every holiday has its typical dish. Pork and potato stew is eaten on pilgrimages and at fairs; cod is prepared for Christmas Eve and Good Friday; pork is eaten on New Year s Day; doughnuts are an inseparable part of carnival festivities, and in the south they prepare a similar fried sweet dish known as hrostule. Ham and boiled eggs with green vegetables are served at Easter, while desserts comprise traditional cakes (e.g. pinca). Kulen (hot-pepper flavoured sausage) at harvest time, goose for St. Martin s Day, turkey and other fowl, as well as sarma (meat-stuffed cabbage leaves), are served on Christmas Day. At weddings, a variety of dishes with dozens of cakes and biscuits are served, including breskvice, shortbread bear paws, gingerbread biscuits, fritule - plain fritters, etc. The favourite meals of very many people on all occasions include spit-roasted lamb and suckling pig, grilled fish, calamari cooked in various ways, barbecue dishes - raznjici, cevapcici and mixed grill - prosciutto and sheepard's cheese, or smoked ham and cottage cheese with sour cream, fish stew,
Croatia is justifiably proud of its broad palette of high quality wines (up to 700 wines with protected geographic origin) and sljivovica and brandies, fruit juices, beers and mineral water. In the south, people drink bevanda with their food (heavy, richly flavoured red wine mixed with plain water), and in north-western regions, "gemisht" (dry, flavoured wines mixed with mineral water).