The Neretva estuary

The Neretva estuary

The Neretva Delta is so amazing with its wild, unusual appearance that upon their first visit a visitor forgets about food and whilst on the boat which is visiting the labyrinth of channels they would certainly be happy with just a quick sandwich in order to focus on the constant changes in the landscape. However, the delta of the Neretva also represents an experience of heaven on earth primarily for the gastronomy. Under ground, above ground, in the water and the air of the Neretva Delta there thrive species made for a unique culinary treat.

 

The first attraction undoubtedly is the eel, the enjoyment of which dates as far back as the times of the Roman emperors, Vespasian in particular, as the archaeological finds in the village of Vid tell us. Its flavour is guaranteed first and foremost by the waters in which it lives; visitors are not a little surprised to see a fisherman reaching down to drink the water on which he is sailing and fishing.

 

Eels being snakelike, swift, slippery and crafty, qualities they amply prove by the fact of their incredible survival, from their spawning grounds in the Sargasso Sea to their habitat in the Neretva estuary, catching them takes a great deal of skill and experience. The largest examples are always the females, males usually being half their size. Throughout the autumn eels are bigger and fatter, and for most connoisseurs those caught in spring are more appreciated.

 

However, it is the very fat of the eel that guarantees the juicy texture of meat when prepared by a master. Probably the best way of preparing eels is on a small spit with 5-10 cm-long pieces skewered onto it. The fat melts slowly, soaking into muscles, and the surplus drains off. Eels can also be grilled, or prepared in a brodetto. In this red-coloured dish eels are often accompanied by frogs, which are another great gastronomic attraction of the estuary. Wild ducks and coots round off the offer.

The Neretva Delta is one of the most fertile parts of Croatia in general, due to its extraordinary vegetables, fruit (particularly the mandarins and grapes) and cereals, therefore two or even three harvests are not unusual in this region. The plants grow almost in front of your eyes, there is no lack of sun and water for the spectacular power of nature which is apparent at the delta in all seasons.