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Istrian gastronomy

The ascendancy of Venice

The word gastronomy is derived from Ancient Greek gastros "stomach", and nomos "knowledge" or "law". It is the study of relationship between culture and food. It is often thought erroneously that the term gastronomy refers exclusively to the art of cooking (the so called Culinary Art), but this is only a small part of this discipline: it cannot always be said that a cook is also a gourmet (taken from

The istrian gastronomy faithfully reflects all of the historical, geographical and climatic characteristics of this area. The tumultuous past times considerably impacted the gastronomy as well. Various traditions are interlaced in the traditional cuisine, which founds its fundaments in the nature (self-propagating plants, aromatic condiments, seasonal vegetables, sea fruits…), and influences of Franc and German feudal authorities as well as the Roman food and that of the Slavic populations which arrival started in the 7th century, were imported. Certainly the greatest impact on istrian gastronomy was done by the Venetian gastronomy, which authority lasted in these areas almost for five centuries – until the year 1797.

The Venetian cuisine was extremely creative and various, also due to the fact that condiments coming from all over the world were used. Nothing unusual for a rich State with a powerful fleet and intense worldwide commercial relations: from the Northern Europe until the Far East. Thanks to such articulated commercial relations, the stockfish from the Baltic countries and rare condiments coming from Asia were normally found on Venetian tables. There were fresh vegetables from the surrounding mouths, game from the inner lands, olive oil and wine from Istria and the scampi coming from the Kvarner bay as well. Of course, the same was in reverse. The western istrian coastal cities of that period (Koper and Poreč), by means of Venice came in touch with many new fares, the stockfish included, but they also learned to adopt the new condiments: the popper, the cinnamon, the nutmeg, the cloves and others. 

Considering that, at least in the beginning of the Serenissima, the fish in Venice was stigmatized as being popular or even poor people’s food – on the ways of preparing the fish and other sea fruits, it was possible to learn from the fishermen of Chioggia. On the contrary, those were bound to the istrian fishermen who were coming from the fishermen villages like Piran, Izola, Novigrad and Rovinj. There was also an exchange of knowledge in the preparation of the zuppa (dense soup), rižoto (rice) and buzara (sauce), from one side of the Adriatic, but also in that of burned crabs, stew made of shore crabs or common limpets, to the other. Such mutual imbuing has impacted the istrian coastal gastronomy until nowadays as well.