amp1.jpgFinally, the Times has given me an article that is blogworthy for something other than its silliness. The lead article in today’s Dining section is all about the culinary delights to be found along the Istrian peninsula of northwestern Croatia. This pretty stretch of land juts out into the Adriatic Sea, just a short ferry ride from Venice, and was colonized by the Venetians and the Romans for thousands of years. The people there speak a weird patois of Croatian and Italian, and the street signs in many of the towns are in Italian. I was fortunate enough to spend several weeks traveling around this region about five years ago, and I’ve been pining to go back ever since. As the lucky, lucky Mark Bittman writes, the food around there is amazingly fresh and delicious–I would say that I had two of the five best meals of my life on that trip. I read today that Croatia is being considered for membership in the EU, which I guess is good for the people there, but I’m afraid it might bring too much homogenization to the area, not least to the food. When I was there, most of the food we had–meat, fish, cheese, vegetables, wine–was raised and processed within a fifty-mile radius. The cuisine is largely influenced by Italy, but there’s also a comforting German heartiness in a lot of the food. EU membership might increase the export opportunities for Croatia, but that might also mean an influx of imported goods and a watering down of the local culinary culture, which would be a shame indeed.

Those qualms aside, I’m glad to see this part of the country finally getting some of the love that’s ordinarily shown to the more fashionable regions to the south. The photo above is of a Roman coliseum in Pula, Istria’s main city. More photos of Istria are after the jump.