Old and dilapidated houses, fashion styles, musical tastes, vehicles… can all be replaced with new ones and erase the traces of the past, but one thing remains the same – familiar taste reminiscent of home. In Varaždin County, there is almost no region that can not boast of traditional recipes of various delicacies – from appetizers and side dishes to main dishes and desserts.
You have already had the opportunity to read about some of them in the previous article, so today follows the sequel – Guardians of tradition, taste and smell of Varaždin area.
Šemovečka kelešica, Mlinčani kolač and Kučanski koščičjak are just some of the local delicacies whose recipe is still jealously preserved and protected from oblivion. These are not ordinary “snacks”, these, in addition to smelling of home, the smell of the past, tradition and hard-working life.
Tired farmers from the fields used to be greeted at home by hardworking housewives with floury hands. This is an image that cannot be taken away from our thoughts, but which has not been alive for a long time. However, the flavours are still alive and they take us back to those old, simple, but also difficult times.
Before we tell you more about these Varaždin area snacks from the past, make sure the pantry on your shelves hides at least a kilo of flour, a little lard, cream and milk, because we are sure you will need it before you get to the end of this article.
So let’s start with:
Hard work required a lot of strength, and the most important source of strength, we all know, is hidden in food. Years ago, when the budget was not so rich, it was necessary to prepare a meal that is nutritious and filling, but also affordable.
Made from poor ingredients, but very nutritious and filling, Šemovečka kelešica was almost an ideal choice for a snack during a break from work.
Today it is protected by the trademark of the Intellectual Property Office, and for its preparation, you will need only a few ingredients – 500g soft and 500g sharp flour, 3 tablespoons of solid lard, 150ml of sour cream, milk as needed and 1 tablespoon of salt. You will make this heavy delicacy in no time, and it will disappear from the tray before you even make it.
Once upon a time, the menu of Lepoglava farmers was unimaginable without the Mlinčani kolač, especially during hard physical work in the field, in the vineyard or in the woods.
Centuries ago, regardless of the time of year, it strengthened the generations of Lepoglava, and even today it is prepared only in the micro-space of Lepoglava Ves.
Those who are preparing for the summer are advised to skip the next rows.
Now that we are left with only gourmets, we will tell you what it tastes like and what the Mlinčani kolač looks like:
golden crispy crust on the outside and juicy leaves inside that smell of homemade lard. At first glance, the texture is reminiscent of burek or puff pastry, but a second you realize that it is a fuller, more specific taste, which you can achieve with just a few ingredients: flour, salt, milk, fat and water.
It is difficult for the keepers of the recipe, the ladies from KUD Lepoglavski pušlek, to talk about the recipe because there is no exact one, you can feel it “under your fingers”. That is why it may be best to try this delicacy from the locals, and enrich your culinary skills with the preparation of Šemovec kelešica, because the preparation of the next delicacy also requires more than just the ingredients.
It used to be a farmer’s dish and was used as a means of payment, but today Kučanski koščičjak is a fine, simple, complete and appreciated snack, also protected by a guarantee stamp at the Intellectual Property Office.
It is prepared from buckwheat flour, buckwheat porridge, pumpkin seeds and Varaždin pumpkin oil, in the form of gibanica, which does not bend but is arranged in rows. Unlike the previous two meals, this one does not contain animal fats, so in the past, but often even today, it was an indispensable part of the table on Christmas Eve.
It was torn from oblivion by the Hajdina Association, and the original recipe was taken over by six Kučan families.
The stuffing of stewed onions and buckwheat porridge, to which ground pumpkin seeds and spices are added, has a strong taste. You have to be careful when preparing this dish because one pinch of spices can make a big difference. Only a few know how to guess the right ratios, thickness and texture of dough and fillings.
Nevertheless, the Hajdina association knows the perfect ratios. Every year, on the last weekend in September, they organize the event “Dani Hajdine”, so now put a reminder in your calendar and afford yourself a weekend reserved for discovering the gastronomic secrets of the Varaždin region.
Along with these heavy peasant dishes, we should also have a drink. In order not to get too far from this area, we recommend a glass (or two) of Varaždin honey brandy to the brave, and to those who play it safe, hot tea enriched with Zagorje acacia honey.
If we can say that an area is ideal for the production of acacia honey of the highest quality, then it is certainly Zagorje’s green hills (Zagorski bregi).
You will recognize acacia honey by its extremely bright and clear colour, the scent of acacia flower and fresh wax, but of course also by the VeeMee traceability.
In March 2022, the European Commission announced that “Zagorje acacia honey” joined the list of EU Protected Croatian Products. Isn’t that enough reason to add it to your hot drink, but also various desserts?
You don’t need a special occasion to toast with a good honey brandy, don’t you? Especially if you know that it is homemade and that it is made from honey from the hills of Zagorje.
There is no single recipe, but one thing is for sure – it is prepared from several types of honey and is medicinal. That’s right, in this case, brandy is medicine. Many people add propolis, various medicinal herbs or nuts to it, so who dare to say that the characteristic of a medicinal drink does not suit it?
The healing properties of honey, but also alcohol in moderation, have been celebrated since ancient times, so we also praise this honey brandy – especially after the 3rd glass.
Until the next reading,
Your VeeMee Advisor