Café culture is king in Croatia. Friends and family don’t just catch up over a cuppa here, business deals are also struck and new acquaintances are made. In fact, almost everything is discussed with a cup of coffee in hand.
This way of doing things dates back hundreds of years, and while the Ottomans came to conquer it was their coffee culture that left a long-lasting legacy. They used it as a way of building relationships and making connections – a wise move in building an empire. Austrian influences later added a splash of grandeur, before Italian espresso filtered in. The result of these three ingredients is eating and drinking with no sense of urgency – this is an experience to be enjoyed! Even an espresso can last three or four hours in Croatian company.
You might find traditional cakes being served with your coffee or perhaps in a restaurant next door. But if we’re being honest, food comes second – coffee and company are the stars of the show.
Meze dishes are the perfect example of Greek dining’s social side. They’re designed for sharing around the table so you all get to sample all of the little delights.
Take a seat in a taverna and watch conversations flowing as a selection of meze is passed around. Although you’re likely to see very little if you get to the taverna too early! Traditionally lunch is the largest meal of the day, which is why you won’t spot many Greeks heading for dinner until around 10pm. Company’s just as important as the food on your plate, so don’t be surprised to see people chatting away until the early hours of the morning. There’s no need for clockwatching, it’s the not the Greek way.
Just like in Greece, lunches are large and sociable in Spain. It’s known as ‘La Comida’, which translates to the grand title of ‘The Meal’ – so you know it’s a big deal! As the afternoon siesta begins at around one, you might spot groups of friends and family heading to restaurants together. The ‘menu del dia’ will be firmly in their mind. The majority of restaurants will offer this menu of the day, your ticket to three or more courses at amazing value.
After eating like a local, you’ll probably be feeling a little full after lunch. Appetites won’t reappear until much later when tapas takes over in the early evening. Spaniards enjoy these small dishes propped up against the bar, enjoying the company of friends over the most sociable style of food. Let the conversation flow! But if you’ve got a large appetite tapas could be the perfect warm up for your evening meal – just enjoy the experience.