This summer, I was fortunate enough to travel with my mom and Nonna (Italian grandma) to Europe! My Nonna’s cousin lives in the Istria region of Croatia, which is located in the North West of the country, and many people with an Italian background live there. My Nonna stayed there the whole two weeks we were away, but my mom and I had the opportunity to travel to Salzburg and Vienna, Austria before we headed off to see the family in Croatia.
Being a future registered dietitian, the ”food situation” is always on my mind. What are we going to eat? What new foods will I try? What is the specialty dish of the culture? During my trip to Europe, I definitely tried really awesome foods and felt I was more connected to the culture and my family.
Below are my “food finds” from the trip! I encourage you to share yours if you’ve had any exciting tasty tales from vacation!
1) Figs. Figs are hands down my favorite fruit (or the at least come in a very close second to apples). The downside of figs is what also makes them special…they are only in season once a year. Luckily, they were growing strong when I was at my cousin’s house in Croatia! My Nonna and I picked them right off the trees in the back yard!
2) Tartuffi. Or truffles in English. Nope not chocolate truffles… I am talking about the rare mushrooms that only trained dogs can sniff out in the woods. We went to a store that pretty much sold only truffle products! Even though my wallet took a hit, I bought a few jars of truffles to take home to cook with (on special occasions of course!)
3) Bacalao. Or cod fish in English. An Italian tradition, we always eat bacalao on both Christmas Eve and Good Friday. I was spoiled in Croatia because my family bought me fresh bacalao with truffles mixed in! I ate this almost every day on toast! My cousin also made a delicious bacalao cream sauce on homemade pasta.
4) Fresh veggies. One of my cousins owns a farm. They grown their own cows for meat and pick all their own veggies… They even make their own wine! My mom, Nonna and I visited the farm. We helped out a little
5) Sausage. I normally do not eat sausage. It’s not exactly my favorite meat item to eat… But, my family made sausage one night and it was so yummy! Definitely worth going out of my comfort zone to try it!
6) Eating out. The restaurant my mom and I chose to eat at during the first part of our trip were amazing! Each night, I made it a point to try something new. I usually tried to pick a dish that was traditional for the area.
7) Gnocchi. I saved the best food find for last. I LOVE gnocchi (potato pasta). I have definitely spoken about it before in my other blogs. What was so special about this gnocchi was that it was made by my Nonna’s cousin. Although nothing will ever top my Nonna’s gnocchi, the one I had in Croatia was full of flavor and had a slightly different taste. Regardless, I enjoyed every bite of the delicious dish.
To summarize, any time you go away to a new place, immerse yourself fully in the culture. Allow yourself to enjoy foods, even the items you thought you may have never had tried. Need support getting ready for your next trip? Make an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists!
Whether you are a novice in the kitchen, or a seasoned chef, Dietitian Klara will work with you to help you reach your nutrition goals. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating, Cooking with Diabetes and Cooking with Food Sensitivities Guide.