Diocletian: “Come back to Rome, are you crazy?!”

Reason #135: living on Brač makes you feel like a Roman emperor

The legend has it that after Diocletian retired from being a very successful Roman emperor and moved into his palace in Split, Rome was in trouble and so they asked him to come back and run the place again. To this Diocletian supposedly told them: “If you could see the raštika* growing in my Palace garden, you wouldn’t be asking me this.”

That pretty much sums up how I feel when someone calls to ask when I’m coming back to Zagreb. Without the part where anyone there needs me to run the place, though :D

The view of raštika from my Palace in Selca:

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As mentioned before, the credit for anything growing in our garden goes to my amazing Aunt Nada.

*raštika is collard greens in English. More on this yummy plant in this post: Planting your own multi-vitamin (raštika).

Roses are red… and yellow and white and pink and…

Reason #129: grow a garden full of beautiful flowers

With this wonderful Mediterranean climate on Brač there’s lots of warm and sunny days all year round and that means anyone can grow just about any plants and flowers they want.

Disclaimer: my anything-but-green thumbs are not in any way responsible for this garden. Aunt Nada is the wizard behind this magic. I just get to wake up to it every morning. That’s a pretty rosy deal, as far as I’m concerned.

Mišanca – edible wild greens

Reason 113: you can pick your own wild greens and cook a healthy, yummy meal

This particular reason for living on Brač would probably make my top ten on any given day. What you need here is a plastic bag (Konzum, Tommy, Kerum, Studenac… any of these will do ;)), a handy knife, knowing where to look and which plants are edible. The latter two I’m not good at yet, so for now I just go with Aunt Nada and follow her lead. IMG-20140226-01074 Once you’ve got a bag full, you can go home and clean it before cooking. IMG-20140226-01075 Cooking is simple. Just boil the water, add some salt and don’t cook for too long. You can also add potatoes, and if you don’t have a lot of mišanca, add any other greens you can buy or grow, such as blitva (chard). Blitva and potatoes will also soften the otherwise strong flavor of concentrated mišanca, if that’s prefereable. IMG-20140223-01049

Some of the plants that go into mišanca: žutinica, kostrič, radič, divlji luk, koromač, martaduha.

There is a guidebook on Brač wild plants which can help you identify the mišanca plants. Read about the guidebook here.

Rafioli

Reason 78: delicious cookies with walnut paste stuffing

Not everyone can make great rafioli, but luckily (although my waistline would disagree that’s it’s lucky) I’m surrounded by Bračanke who lead the pack in this art. Especially my Aunt Nada who always spoils me for my birthday with a box full of these.

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The Rafioli Army, prepared for battle with hungry Bračani :)

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The crust is hard and the filling is soft and very, very yummy. If you like walnuts.

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Planting your own multi-vitamin (raštika)

Reason #68: it’s easy to plant collard greens and they’re super nutritious

Collard greens, or raštika and kupus, as it’s known here, is all the rage among health freaks out there. And it just happens to be the most basic veg over here, next to blitva.

So, I decided to plant some of my own. With the help of my aunt Nada, who’s  basically my Mr. Miyagi for all the Brački skillz.

IMG-20140226-01076First you get some seedlings from teta Antica (above).

IMG-20140226-01077Then you take a motika, eng. hoe (the tool, not the other kind), and you dig a deep, narrow hole.

Plant the seedlings and water them. Make sure the soil doesn’t go dry until they take.

IMG-20140226-01078I will report back on them over the summer.

To all the Selčanke

Reason 67: the women of Selca

Here’s a bouquet of wild flowers for all the ladies of Selca on this International Women’s Day.

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To all the moms, grandmas, sisters, daughters, aunts . To all the married ones, single, widowed and divorced ones. To stay-at-home moms, to entrepreneurs and other working women. You cook and clean and bake and take care of everyone. To the wonderful nuns who take care of our grandmas at the old persons’ home . To our doctor and nurses. To the waitresses in our cafes. To the teachers and the staff at the elementary school. To our hairdressers. To the women working at the općina, tourist board, pharmacy, supermarket… to all of them. You are wonderful! :)

And did you think today would go by without a party? No way, check this out:IMG-20140304-01097Poster inviting us to a Woman’s Day party at Ružmarin (restaurant in Selca). There’ll be live music by Trio Brač and lots of food and drinks, of course. 

I was told there’s going to be old-fashioned ballroom dancing, so that’s exciting. But I was also told you need a date for one of these things, so I’ll have to give it a miss. Maybe next year :)

UPDATE: the ball was cancelled and later I found out that there was a strip show in Povlja. A strip show, with an actual stripper. A male stripper…. and I missed it!!!

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Poster advertising a Women’s Day show with live music from Duo No Stress, plus a male stripper. The poster is stuck to a bus stop in Novo Selo. 

Brudet

Reason #66: cook a delicious meal out of almost any fish

Selca is not a big place, and as discussed before, there’s no big fish market for us to to pick and choose what’s going to be for dinner. Sometimes it’s just a local guy who caught a bunch of small fish. Take it or leave it!

When you get a bunch of small fish that you can’t do much else with – you make a brudet, one of the yummiest dishes ever. So, we’re not complaining here, at all.

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There’s 6 types of fish in the bunch. Plus, a few shrimp.

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Cute :)

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Ok, so this is simple:

Again, like with practically any other meal here, you start with olive oil and onions. When they’re soft, add the fish.

Prepare some water, vinegar, Vegeta (spices, not the Dragon Ball character), konšerva (concentrated tomato paste), pepper, parsley… what else? I can’t remember. But that’s close enough.

Add that mixture to the fish in the pan. Cook for 20-40 minutes, depending on the size of your fish.

While that’s cooking, make palentacornmeal porridge, to serve with the brudet.

My first attempt at brudet was pretty good. I forgot to add pepper and I could have used more vinegar.

The hardest part for me it’s cleaning the fish before cooking. I’ve only done it twice so far, so I still mess up the whole kitchen and it takes me forever. Aunt Nada suggested I do it outside next time. Good idea.

UPDATE: Ok, so, after she saw the post my mom called to complain. She said, ‘What kind of a pale ass brudet is that?!’. There’s an eternal tug of war between the two of us when it comes to how much konšerva should go into meals. This subject deserves its own post at some point.

But, yeah, you might want to add a bit more tomato paste than I did.