Picking, gathering or catching only what nature herself provides us, without any effort by the growers and breeders, would be enough to experience endless culinary delights. Frequently, such dishes are underappreciated since the ingredients grow in abundance across meadows, clearings and woods, and as a consequence do not fetch particularly good prices.
And ideal example of this kind is mišanca, that is, a “mixture” of wild or semi-wild plants gathered in spring or early summer, particularly in the Mediterranean regions of Croatia. Formerly, it consisted of some 20 or more plants, while today its basis is various types of wild and semi-wild onion, certain grasses, edible flowers, and herbs. The method of preparing a mišanca is from a combination of popular culinary concepts and skills. At the start of the season, in early spring, mišanca can be eaten fresh, as a salad, dressed with wine vinegar and olive oil. It is quite delicious with the addition of salt-pickled anchovies, olives, capers and hard boiled eggs. Mišanca can also be briefly cooked in boiling water and again served with a number of additions, but which now extend to boiled potatoes, chick-peas, broad beans, beans, lentils. Fish laid on a bed of mišanca and baked in the oven in an earthenware dish, ranked at the peak of gastronomy, is becoming ever more inviting to the young stars of the culinary arts in Croatia.
The richness of genuine Mediterranean aromas offered by mišanca, the power of essential oils contained in wild-grown plants, opens up new avenues into delightful culinary interpretations: mišanca in fritajas, or rather omelettes and pancakes, made into a sauce and served over home-made pasta, cooked together with lamb or kid over a gentle heat, cooked with dried mutton or proscuitto bone and potatoes, combined with olives and mixed into flat cakes...
This wonderful mixture should be sought out, albeit under its different names, in all the regions of the Croatian Adriatic, but also on the markets of Zagreb. The wider the variety of plants included, the more appreciated mišanca is, and the touch for deciding on the correct ratio of individual plants, as per the recipe, is a sign of a chef extraordinaire.