The Balkan food and culture

Albanian food Stuffed Peppers Speca të Mbushura
The Balkan food and culture

The cooking seems to have been almost the only thing in which the Balkan countries were united. In the whole area many dishes are identical and many others are variations on a theme adapted to local foods, preferences or religion. All Balkan peoples drink Turkish coffee, and all share a love of sweet things.

Turkish coffee
Turkish coffee
Balkan Countries

Countries on the Balkan Peninsula, a region in the southeaster Europe, are bounded by the Adriatic and the Ionian seas in the west, the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas in the south, and the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea in the east. The peninsula includes Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Greece, and European Turkey.

Principal characteristics of the Balkan food and culture

The food culture of the Balkan Peninsula depended upon the historic, geographical, climatic, social, and religious elements. There are three main food culture areas: the Mediterranean, the Continental lowland, and the Continental Mountain areas.

The food culture of the Balkan Peninsula displays Asian as well as west European influences. Even though the Oriental influence has been very strong in the last several centuries, ethnic characteristics and traditions have been preserved.

Dishes consumed in these regions contain many similar elements, but may also greatly differ from each other. One of the most characteristics shared by most is the use of numerous spices, onions, garlic, tomatoes, parsley, paprika, and capers.

You will see paprika everywhere in Budapest
Very popular in Hungary and Portugal

People of the Balkans like meat dishes. However, in the past, meat did not play a central role in the food culture of the Balkans. In those parts where there is a large Muslim concentration – mainly Albania, parts of Macedonia and Turkey – pork is not eaten; in other areas where Catholicism prevails fish is the Friday and Lenten dish.

The Gourmet Atlas

explores the origins of foods and traces their movements throughout the world. Learn where tomatoes were first eaten and what medicinal qualities the Egyptians thought certain spices had.
Albania is the least interested in dishes and this may be because so much of it energy has been devoted to war, mountain banditry, guerrilla warfare and family feuds.

See all 4 formats and editions Used from $2.00

Cuisine of the Balkan region

Croatian cuisine can be divided into some few regions and every region has its own distinct cooking traditions, characteristic for the area and not necessarily well-known in other parts of Croatia. Its modern roots date back to 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 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. However, most dishes can be found all across the country. This is also why the varied cuisine of Croatia is called “cuisine of the regions”.

Some expressions from typical Croatian menus:
  • Specialities from the grill are called roštilja or ražnja
  • pečeno means roasted
  • prženo means fried
  • pod pekom means that the dish has been put into a stone oven under a metal cover. The cook puts hot coals on the cover so that the meal is cooked slowly.
Typical food delicacies and meals 
  • Mesos tiblice pork ham from Međimurje county
  • Janjetina – lamb garnished with Mediterranean herbs
  • Odojak – roast pork
Odojak, Croation recipe
Odojak, Croation recipe
  • Fresh game from Dalmatia
  • Visovačka begavica
  • Veal steaks stuffed with ham and cheese and grilled with breadcrumbs
  • Turkey with mlinci (flat, sour dumplings)
  • Kaninchenbraten
  • Leg of lamb à la Pašticada (rolled pieces of Pršut in white wine sauce)
  • Leg of venison the count’s way
  • Wild duck with sauce
  • Roasted pheasant
  • Kotlovina from Samobor (kettle with knuckle of pork and other meat and sausages)
  • Boiled fillet of beef haunch with Sauerkraut
  • Escalope à la Baron Trenk
  • Goose Međimurje (filled with buckwheat)
  • Goose Turopolje (corn semolina as a side dish)
  • Purgerica Turkey (Christmas dish from the bordering region to Zagreb, turkey filled with chestnuts, apples, bacon, lemons, etc.)
  • Bosnian ćevapćići, grilled little sausage-like meats served with onions, pita bread and possibly ajvar
  • Krvavice, or blood sausages, made of blood and kaša
  • Hladetina, a particular type of head cheese

For Christmas, Croats traditionally eat bakalar (cod)

Some seafood and fish eaten in Croatia
  • Squid – Croatian: lignje,
  • Octopus salad – Croatian: salata od hobotnice
  • Tuna
  • Shrimps – Croatian: škampi, Italian: scampi
  • Common mussels – Croatian: dagnje
Gastronomic events and festivals on the Balkan countries

Istanbul in February 2018

Gastronomical festivals in Croatia


Gastronomic events in Slovenia

I fell Slovenia (things-to-do and events)

The Gourmet Atlas

relish in the history and rich detail of the foods we encounter every day. Satiate your appetite for knowledge about food with The Gourmet Atlas.

50 beautiful, full-color maps depict the history of major foodstuffs, tracing their movements across the world.

• Numerous and extensive A–Z listings detail the backgrounds and uses of major food groups, including herbs and spices, fruits and vegetables, types of grains, and much more;

• More than 300 lavish photographs and drawings tell the story of food throughout history;

• Authentic recipes featuring the highlighted ingredient bring you closer to the food’s native and regional flavors So whether encountering an unusual ingredient or a common, everyday food, with The Gourmet Atlas you’ll be able to answer the questions,

“Where did this come from and how did it get here?”


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